Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
After the Phillies moved on from longtime GM Ruben Amaro Jr. in 2015, he could have traveled the traditional path of becoming another team's special assistant or senior advisor. That's the typical soft landing for a free agent baseball exec.
But Amaro pursued a more interesting second act, donning a uniform again and taking a job as first base coach for the Boston Red Sox. After the Sox fired manager John Farrell a year ago, Amaro moved to the Mets, where he holds the same position, in addition to coaching baserunning and outfield.
Amaro emphasizes that he is happy in New York, and hopes to return under a new administration. But as a former GM, he is naturally interested in one day being a leader in the game again, whether in a front office or as a manager.
"I love being in New York," he said. "I love working with Mickey [Callaway] and [bench coach Gary DiSarcina], Dave Eiland and all the rest of the guys. I'm grateful Mickey gave me this opportunity."
Amaro did express interest in interviewing for the Mets' GM job. He didn't get that opportunity, but still very much wants to be a part of the organization going forward.
"I don't care to really discuss that part of it," he said of his previous interest in the top job. "Listen, I'm the first base coach. There's a lot of people who would like to be doing that job, and I'm very fortunate to have that job.
"As far as my overall opportunities and future, I've kept my mind open. If there are opportunities to become a manager or to talk to an organization about that, that would be great. At same time, I'd love to talk to an organization about being in the front office again, as a GM or what have you. Listen, I love the game. I love to be part of a team and try to impact that team."
In his former role as a GM, Amaro dealt with all three of the Mets' finalists, and is uniquely positioned to provide insight into them.
He actually interviewed Chaim Bloom more than a decade ago for a job with the Phillies, and came to regret not hiring him. "He's aggressive in a very good way, and very intelligent," Amaro says of his subsequent interactions with Bloom.
When Doug Melvin was GM of the Milwaukee Brewers, he and Amaro were close, and Amaro came to view Melvin as a creative thinker and mentor.
"Doug is a good person," Amaro says. "He's one of those guys that was a mentoring type of GM. I gravitated toward the Doug Melvins and the Walt Jockettys of the world. The Cashmans, and the Kevin Towers of the world, God bless his soul.
"The one thing about Doug that was very interesting -- he reminded me a lot of Dallas Green and Pat Gillick. Guys who have been around a long time, and you would think they would be set in their ways, but they're not. Those guys are very open minded and creative."
As for agent Brodie Van Wagenen, Amaro negotiated with him many times, and always found the interactions ethical and respectful.
"Brodie is a good baseball person," Amaro says. "He's a guy who knows baseball. He pays attention. He is a guy that has aspirations of doing great things in baseball, so I'm not really all that surprised by him being a candidate for this job. He's just a good person. A good guy. There's always discussions when you're talking to an agent about his clients, but always very respectful with Brodie. I always had very good constructive discussions with him. It's clear he understands the game."
Speaking of understanding the game, I was interested to ask Amaro about the changes since his Phillies appeared in consecutive World Series in 2008 and 2009. Analytics have altered the way a front office interacts with his manager, and the composition of lineups.
The Phils' usual lineup in 2009 was typical of baseball's first century or so: Jimmy Rollins, a speedy shortstop with so-so on base skills, leading off. Shane Victorino batting second, trying to get the runner over. Chase Utley batting third because he was the best overall hitter on the team, and RBI man Ryan Howard in the cleanup spot.
I asked Amaro how that lineup would look today.
"This day and age, because of Utley's OBP he may have been hitting in the one hole or two hole, yeah," Amaro said. "You may have seen guys like Howard or Werth hitting in the top of the lineup. Werth had a great on-base percentage."
"I remember at one point, there was a discussion about Bobby Abreu to slide him into one hole because he had like a .380 on-base percentage. But at that time, if you were the best hitter on the team, you want to hit in the three hole. Now that has changed, and it's because of the information that we've got in baseball. In this game, you have to be malleable, and even old school scouts would tell you, 'Hey, the numbers don't lie."
As Amaro awaits word on who will next lead the Mets, and whether that person will retain his services, he is moonlighting in another unexpected way -- as an actor playing his own father in the ABC sitcom The Goldbergs.
Set in Philadelphia in the 1980s, the show includes the character Ruben Amaro Jr., a star athlete at William Penn Charter High School, which both he and series creator Adam F. Goldberg attended. Twice now, including in an episode that airs next Wednesday, he has appeared as his own dad, former big leaguer Ruben Amaro Sr.
"It's kinda cool, it's kinda weird, and it's a little surreal to see somebody play my character on a sitcom," Amaro said. "Then for me to get an opportunity to do a cameo playing my father, to me that was just spectacular. My dad had passed in March of 2017, and to be able to pay homage to him -- when they first asked me about it, I got pretty emotional."
With his stint as an actor finished for now, Amaro will spend the next several days waiting for news about the Mets, hoping to remain in his current job, and considering what the future beyond that might bring.