At 2:30 today, the Philadelphia Phillies held a press conference to announce the replacement for President and CEO Pat Gillick, which will officially take place next year.
Andy MacPhail will become the President of the Phillies organization after the conclusion of the 2015 season. For the remainder of the year, MacPhail will act as a special assistant to Gillick.
This decision should not have been a surprise to any Phillies fans as Gillick more or less announced this move earlier last week in an interview with Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Brookover – today merely made it official.
With the Presidential position in the sole possession of MacPhail after this year, he becomes the first outsider of the Phillies organization to be hired to an executive position in quite some time – giving the fans and the organization itself a breath of fresh air for the possibility of new horizons.
Current President Pat Gillick stated today that the “ownership was diligent in selecting the right person for this job, and they did a great job in selecting Andy.” While it would be nice to be able to take Gillick’s words for granted, as Phillies fans, we have become wary of every decision made within the Phillies’ organization, from the field to the clubhouse to the executive box.
In an effort to appease the cautiously optimistic Phillies’ fan, I take a look at the resume which future president Andy MacPhail sports.
To start with, MacPhail was born into a baseball family; the game runs in his veins. His father, Lee MacPhail, was a General Manager and President of the Baltimore Orioles. With Lee’s seven years as an executive in the Orioles organization, the team won the AL East pennant four times. But the baseball blood in the MacPhail family does not stop there. Larry MacPhail, Andy MacPhail’s father’s father, or to simplify it, Andy’s grandfather, was also a successful front office executive who was a General Manager, President, and Co-Owner of the New York Yankees.
But as we know, relation to baseball past does not mean everything. However, Andy MacPhail has made a name for himself in the baseball world on his own merit.
Andy experienced his first bouts of success with the Minnesota Twins. MacPhail took over as the General Manager of the Twins organization in a period of doubt after stringing together a series of losing seasons. Yet, MacPhail, to his credit or not, turned around the organization and won two World Series Championships: one in 1987 and one in 1991.
After Andy MacPhail’s successful stint in Minnesota, he took his talents to the Chicago Cubs in 1994 as President of the organization, an organization stuck in the Curse of the Billy Goat. However, the curse seemed to be a bit too much for Andy to conquer. MacPhail never found too much success in Chicago as the team finished with a winning record only five times in his thirteen years at the helm of the Cubs organization.
Then, in 2007, MacPhail jumped ships again; this time to the Baltimore Orioles, his father’s previous organization. In the Orioles organization, MacPhail was hired as the President of Baseball Operations – more or less an extravagant name for the same job done by the general manager. Again, like in Chicago, Andy did not achieve the same success that he did in Minnesota. In Baltimore, he experienced some of the worst seasons in the franchise’s history, not once amounting more than seventy wins. However, the year after his retirement, the Orioles did go on to win 93 games. Could this have been due to the efforts which MacPhail put in? One can only wonder.
After his time with the Orioles in 2011, MacPhail took a leave from baseball to spend more time with his family and to travel the world.
Whether or not Andy MacPhail’s success throughout his time in baseball impresses you, the man still won two World Series rings, and there is no arguing the experience which he has as a baseball executive.
In saying that, sometimes those who have had years and years of experience at the helm of sports team bring with them some baggage from the past as they do not always shift with the tides of new technology and new analytics. However, MacPhail does not seem to fall victim to this. A big focus of MacPhail’s press conference on Tuesday was on sabermetrics.
The discussion of analytics such a sabermetrics should be very exciting for Phillies fans as the organization is currently living in the stone-age compared to other teams in the league as they have fallen way behind in the analytic technologies utilized by the majority of organizations.
Sabermetrics is a form of advanced statistical analytics which is able to predict trends in players and their development which leads to a stronger evaluation of the potential of players, a more accurate approximation of the eventual decline of superstars, and helps locate potential breakout players. If the Phillies took advantage of such technologies before, it may have been possible to predict the fall of players such as Ryan Howard which would have avoided the long-term contract which was negotiated.
Nevertheless, the past is the past and there is no going back in time or looking in the rear view mirror, so we can only look to the future, and with MacPhail’s strong focus on sabermetrics we can only hope that our rebuild will be faster than expected.
Whether, Andy MacPhail is merely a fresh of breath air for us in Philadelphia or if he really is the next big deal and the change which we need, it is exciting and refreshing to see a change in management at the upper levels of the Phillies’ organization.
With that, I wish the best of luck to the future President of the Philadelphia Phillies, and I hope for a dynamic change in the way which the Phillies organization is perceived.
To Andy MacPhail and the future!