Dear Mr. Montgomery,
Philadelphia fans have often been referred to as the most diehard fans in sports. Our beloved Phillies are no exception. With the Phillies remaining idle at the non-waiver trade deadline here in 2014, many fans have reached their boiling point. As I’m sure you have noticed, one man has become the scapegoat for the recent failures of this team and that man is general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr.
And there are a plethora of reasons as to why.
The reason fans aren’t upset with you, Mr. Montgomery, is because you have proven your ability to produce a winner with your hires. After Ed Wade was rightfully fired as general manager after 2005, you hired Pat Gillick to fill the position. Five years earlier, Mr. Gillick successfully turned the Seattle Mariners into a 116-win team and, in just three seasons in Philadelphia, elevated the Phillies to a World Series title. He did this through properly handling young talent (Utley, Rollins, Howard, Victorino, Hamels), making astute trades and signings (Brad Lidge, Jayson Werth), and letting go of expensive yet declining stars when it was their time (Jim Thome).
The reason fans aren’t upset with manager Ryne Sandberg is because he has been dealt a difficult hand, and we see that. He inherited an older, declining team with little farm system talent waiting ready in the wing. He has not even managed this team for an entire calendar year. Fans trust that he will someday develop into a terrific manager and that it is not fair to judge him off of 6 months’ work.
There is one man who directly correlates with the decline of this Phillies team, and that is general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr.
Gillick retired after the 2008 championship season and handed the reigns to Amaro as general manager. Immediately, Amaro employed a “win-now” mentality which, at the time, fans were all-in on. He made flashy signings and trades to acquire names like Roy Halladay, Hunter Pence, and Cliff Lee. He also signed stars like Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Jonathan Papelbon to lucrative, long-term deals. This all seemed great at the time and Phillies fans were eating it up.
Fast forward 3 years. Yes, 3 full years. The Phillies are about to miss the playoffs for a third straight year. Ryan Howard is 34 years old as has not been the same since his 2011 achillies injury. Jimmy Rollins is 35 years old and in steady decline. Other players who are still solid starters but in decline with massive contracts include Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz. Aside from the depletion of the farm system due to the Lee, Pence, and Halladay trades, Amaro has made these aging players virtually untradeable due to their contracts.
Plenty of pieces to be traded, no one willing to pay Amaro’s price to get them.
2014 marks the third straight year the Phillies could have sold some of these aging players in attempt to get some prospects. I am not a general manager nor am I going to pretend to be one. But myself and Phillies fans everywhere are knowledgeable enough to know that three trade deadlines have come and gone without any legitimate young talent coming to the team. Sorry, Ben Revere is a sad excuse of a replacement for Shane Victorino.
Bringing back this little talent while still signing aging stars (see A.J. Burnett and Michael Young) in attempt to prolong the inevitable has absolutely buried the organization. Like I said, I am not a general manager but even I know that one of these aging starts should have brought back SOMETHING in return.
Our neighbors down the road, the Philadelphia Eagles, recently went through a similar situation. Andy Reid entered win-now mode and signed outside free agents and aging stars to try to make a final run at a Super Bowl. After two seasons, the plan revealed itself to be a disaster. The Eagles could have pretended like everything was okay and stuck with Reid, Michael Vick, and continued to bring in outside stars to cover up their mistakes.
But they looked themselves in the mirror, realized a new direction was needed, owned up to the mistakes, and just one year later the Eagles have reclaimed their position as one of the better teams in all of football.
Amaro refuses to admit his wrongdoings and pretends like this team is a contender. Attendance is dwindling because us fans are reluctant to pour our valuable time and hard-earned money into an organization that we feel isn’t giving their best effort into producing a winner. Remember those summer nights in 2010 and 2011 where the hottest thing to do in Philadelphia was to go see our 100-win Phillies? We long for those days again, Mr. Montgomery.
We are eternally grateful for the championship our Phillies gave us in 2008. However, the honeymoon is over. Long over. We are ready to have a winner once again and it is all in your hands to give us that.
See, our power as fans is limited. We can tweet #FireRuben and not show up to games and boo the team and sign petitions until our hands fall off. However, that can only go so far. Mr. Montgomery, there is one man with the power to remove Ruben Amaro, Jr. from his position as general manager of the Phillies and that is you. We are currently a helpless fanbase who is held hostage by an incompetent general manager and are unsure whether to cheer for our team to win (as we were raised to do) or cheer for losses simply to bring about organizational changes.
I speak for myself and the entire fanbase when I say that we are desperate. As much as we hate seeing our beloved Phillies struggle, we hate even more knowing that they are run by a delusional general manager who is absolutely blind to the obvious needs of the team. He has made mistake after mistake and it is time to cut the chord.
Mr. Montgomery, I hope with all my heart that somehow, someway you see this letter and take our desires into account. You have our undying support, your general manager does not.
Ruben, time’s up.
Your hundreds of thousands of Phillies fans across the country