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.

Giants sign Darin Ruf to minor league contract

Darin Ruf
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The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reports that the Giants have signed 1B/OF Darin Ruf to a minor league contract.

Ruf, 33, played parts of five seasons in the majors with the Phillies from 2012-16, enjoying occasional offensive success. He spent the last three seasons in the KBO League in South Korea with the Samsung Lions, reigniting his career. Ruf hit an aggregate .313/.404/.564 with 86 home runs and 350 RBI over 1,756 plate appearances.

Ruf joins an ever-increasing list of players whose major league careers fizzled out, then found new life overseas — Eric Thames and Miles Mikolas are a couple of examples. Ruf will hope to prove himself as a big leaguer once more in spring training with the Giants.