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Phillies officially hire Matt Klentak as team's new general manager

STEPHEN GROSS
YorkDispatch


When Phillies team president Andy MacPhail announced Ruben Amaro Jr.'s firing as general manager Sept. 10, he didn't want to put an exact timetable on hiring Amaro's replacement.

It would have been "ambitious, but ideal" to have a new general manager in place by the time the team held its organizational meetings, he said, but other meaningful dates were the general manager meetings in early November and the MLB Winter Meetings the first full week in December.

As ambitious as it might have been, MacPhail worked quickly and beat the first range of dates he mentioned.

Monday morning, the Phillies confirmed weekend reports by announcing Matt Klentak has been hired as the team's vice president and general manager. He becomes the 11th general manager in Phillies history.

The team's organizational meetings begin Monday evening, allowing both MacPhail and Klentak time after Monday morning's press conference in Philadelphia to travel to Clearwater, Fla. where the meetings are being held.

MacPhail also said while announcing Amaro's firing in September, he would be looking at a range of candidates for the next general manager, not just those who are young and well versed in analytics, something ownership stressed was important earlier this season.

Yet, ultimately, that's what the Phillies decided on.

At 35, Klentak becomes the franchise's youngest general manager and is someone with a solid background in analytics, a reversal from the norm for the Phillies. The organization had previously focused their efforts on scouting and largely ignored analytics.

Klentak joins the Phillies after spending the last four years as assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Angels under general manager Jerry Dipoto. Dipoto was relieved of his duties this past summer, allowing Klentak to handle more of the day-to-day operations, even though Bill Stoneman was named interim general manager.

Already having worked with MacPhail for four years as director of baseball operations for Orioles while MacPhail was president of baseball operations in Baltimore likely also gave Klentak a step up on the competition. He is a 2002 graduate of Dartmouth College with a degree in economics and the following year, received a job with the Colorado Rockies in their Baseball Operations Department. In 2006, Klentak joined Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department before heading to Baltimore in 2008.

Despite selecting someone young with an analytics background, MacPhail kept his promise, as a wide range of candidates were considered.

"We interviewed former general managers that had successful tenures during their term as general manager," MacPhail said. "We interviewed those that were very much immersed in the player evaluation world and player personnel at all levels. We spoke to people that were intricately involved in player development and scouting, as all those disciplines are important."

At the introductory press conference, MacPhail laid out the specific criteria that the team was looking for in a general manager — their strategic visions had to be aligned, they had to be a high-character person, disciplined, a communicator, a listener, compatible to Phillies culture, balanced and open-minded and willing to disagree and in turn, bringing new ideas to the table.

Klentak mentioned many of those as he laid out his plan moving forward, but also discussed information.

"I know this is a very important one," Klentak said. "We want to be the best at everything that we do. We want to have the best scouts in the field, the best coaches, we want to have the best players, and we will. And we will use every form of technology and information available to us to be at the forefront of information in this industry.

"How we manage that will be key. We want to take all the information from all the different people and put it together and marry that into our process. How we do that will determine our fate. But if we have the best information, we will make the best decisions."

Even though MacPhail and Klentak worked together previous, the Phillies didn't hone in on Klentak as being their choice until late Thursday, approximately two hours after the final interview had been conducted, according to Phillies ownership partner John Middleton.

Klentak thanked many, mostly those who have helped him get to where he is. He included Amaro in his thank yous, for helping "reshape the future of this organization" this past summer.

Coincidentally, the hiring comes the same day Amaro found a new job. It was first reported Saturday that the former Phillies general manager, who assumed that role back in 2009, will be the first base coach for Boston. The made the move official Monday.

Middleton, who has taken on a much more visible role the past four months was pleased with how efficiently MacPhail selected the team's new general manager.

"[His] process was comprehensive, it was rigorous, it was objective and it was thorough," Middleton, who was part of the interview team along with other owners Jim and Pete Buck, executive vice president and COO Michael Stiles and MacPhail, said. "And because [he] did all those things well, [MacPhail] wound up with a great result in hiring Matt. When [Andy] and I sat here in September together and [he] said [his] goal was to have somebody in place by today, I have to tell you, I thought it was really ambitious. And the only way [he] accomplished that was by exercising decisive leadership."