Phillies could keep GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. beyond 2015

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Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been something of a lightning rod in recent years, getting most of the blame for the team’s fall from grace after the 2011 season. There were a number of poor decisions made under his leadership, including the Ryan Howard extension, the Cliff Lee trade to Seattle, separate trades to acquire Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence which depleted the minor league system, as well as some regrettable public comments with which he insulted Ryan Howard, showed he didn’t understand how OPS worked, and denigrated the value of walks.

The Phillies hit rock bottom earlier this year, when manager Ryne Sandberg quit suddenly due to an inability to effectively communicate with his players. Amaro named Pete Mackanin the interim manager, and the team has played much better and players have effusively praised Mackanin. Amaro also oversaw the overhauling of the Phillies’ minor league system, trading Jimmy Rollins during the off-season and executing trades of Jonathan Papelbon, Ben Revere, Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley. The Phillies now arguably have one of the five-best minor league systems in baseball.

And that may be reason enough for the Phillies to bring Amaro back for the 2016 season, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Amaro’s contract expires after the season, but incoming team president Andy MacPhail — taking over for outgoing president Pat Gillick — may keep Amaro in the GM seat rather than find a new candidate from outside the organization.

Heyman does cite as potential external GM options J.J. Piccolo of the Royals, Matt Klentak of the Angels, and John Barr of the Giants.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.