Reeling Phillies fire embattled Ruben Amaro Jr. as team's general manager
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Losing consistently leads to plenty of change.
The Philadelphia Phillies fired general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. on Thursday, completing a cycle of turnover for a team going through its worst season in 43 years.
Manager Ryne Sandberg already resigned in June and Andy MacPhail was hired to replace outgoing president Pat Gillick after the season.
"We needed a fresh perspective, a fresh approach," MacPhail said.
Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock replaces Amaro as interim general manager. MacPhail hopes to hire a new GM before the end of October. He hasn't made a decision on interim manager Pete Mackanin.
"It's never an easy decision to make a change," MacPhail said. "Ruben has had a direct impact on some of the best years in the team's history. He helped to create some great memories for Phillies fans with his accomplishments, but in order to return to a top-contending club, we believe this is the right thing to do as we continue the rebuilding process."
The Phillies have the worst record in the majors at 54-86 and will miss the postseason for the fourth straight year after winning five consecutive NL East titles. They're on pace to lose 100 games for the first time since going 47-107 in 1961 and their .386 winning percentage is the lowest since 1972.
MacPhail said he didn't make a final decision on Amaro's status until three or four days ago. He made the move with 22 games remaining to give Amaro, who was in the final year of his contract, an opportunity to pursue one of the four openings for GM jobs.
"This was more difficult than I anticipated," he said.
Amaro replaced Gillick, who retired after the Phillies won the 2008 World Series and became a senior adviser. Gillick then replaced David Montgomery as team president on an interim basis last year and chose MacPhail to be his successor in June. Amaro previously served 10 years as assistant GM.
Amaro rose from team batboy in 1980-83 to playing for the Phillies for five seasons in the 1990s. He guided the Phillies to the 2009 NL pennant, three division titles and most win in franchise history (102) in 2011.
"The Phillies ownership fully supports Andy's decision not to extend Ruben Amaro's contract," team co-owner John Middleton said. "As a group, we have tremendous respect for Ruben, who has been a significant contributor to this organization. This decision is about taking the club in a new direction and that will be facilitated by new leadership."
Sandberg quit after going 119-159 over parts of three seasons after taking over for Charlie Manuel in August 2013.
Amaro engineered several trades during Philadelphia's rebuilding process, including dealing ace Cole Hamels to Texas and 2007 NL MVP Jimmy Rollins and six-time All-Star Chase Utley to the Dodgers.
Amaro wasn't afraid of making big moves during his tenure. He acquired Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence in trades. He also traded Lee and signed him a year later in free agency.
Middleton said he wants MacPhail to hire a version of himself from 30 years ago. MacPhail won two World Series as general manager of the Minnesota Twins in 1987 and 1991 and later served as president of the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles.
Middleton wants a GM who "thinks outside the box" and can "embrace change." The Phillies have been resistant to change and Amaro admitted he waited too long to rebuild.
"One of the hardest things to is to push change," Middleton said. "People who are as successful as the Phillies have been are very good at their jobs and introducing change in that environment is hard partly because it's great risk."