Throughout his career as Phillies general manager, Ruben Amaro Jr. was generally perceived as a failure. But the transition he’ll make next season, from front office executive to first base coach, is unprecedented and extreme.
In 2008, Amaro was put in the unenviable position of replacing a Hall of Fame general manager in Pat Gillick. He also had to deal with high expectations, taking over the season after the Phillies won a World Series.
The Phillies performed extremely well in Amaro’s first few years in charge, winning three consecutive NL East titles. In those three seasons from 2009-2011, the Phillies won 93, 97 and 102 games. Things were going well for Amaro.
Things headed south in 2012. The Phillies win total dropped precipitously, as they went from the best team in the majors to 81-81. The next season, they won 73 games and Amaro fired manager Charlie Manuel.
The last two years defined the current perception of the Phillies and ended Amaro’s tenure with the team; Philadelphia won 73 and 63 games, putting them in the NL East cellar both years.
So Amaro was fired, and rightfully so, but he is still a seasoned executive that could help a front office in a reduced role. It makes sense then that the internet went nuts when Amaro was named the new first base coach of the Boston Red Sox a few weeks back.
The first thing that jumps out is the transition to field managing Amaro is making seems like a major indictment of Amaro’s ability as an executive. And that echoes his national perception; in 2014, Sporting News named Amaro the worst general manager in baseball.
But what people don’t remember or don’t realize about Amaro, is that he played the outfield in the major leagues. From 1991-98, Amaro hit .235 with 16 home runs. He played five of those seasons with the Phillies, and immediately joined their front office after retiring.
Amaro will not be like the Marlins’ Dan Jennings, who never played professional baseball before naming himself manager this past year. He has experience on the field as a player and the mind of an executive, and could prove valuable to a major league coaching staff, although his strengths as a base coach are unknown.
Regardless, Amaro’s transition to the field will be a compelling storyline on a Red Sox team chock full of them.