Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Ruben.
I’m sure that’s what Andy MacPhail, Pat Gillick, David Montgomery, and the entire City of Brotherly Love is thinking collectively after Ruben Amaro Jr.’s most recent opportunity to fully insert his foot in his mouth.
Amaro made headlines back in December by publicly calling out Ryan Howard and stating that the team would be better off without him. Then, in May, he blasted the fans for not knowing enough about the game as he continued to take heat for the rebuilding process he has bungled so epically.
Those comments were nothing compared to the big flaming ball of napalm Amaro dropped Tuesday when pressed for comment about Chase Utley. Yeah, you know, that guy who was the heart and soul of the first team to bring a title back to Philadelphia — in any major sport, might I add — since 19-freaking-83. For the past 13 years, Utley has given every ounce of baseball playing ability his body can give to the Philadelphia Phillies. He will go down in history as one of the most iconic players to call Philadelphia — the only city he has ever played in — home. Utley is the perfect, grind-it-out type player for a grind-it-out type city.
Obviously, Utley has not done enough to warrant respectful treatment from Amaro.
Here’s what Amaro had to say when asked whether Utley would continue to be the starting second baseman when he comes off the disabled list for an ankle injury that has hampered him all year long.
“Not for me, he’s not. Cesar Hernandez is our best second baseman. I would assume that Cesar would be our second baseman. I think that’s fair.”
Fair? Maybe. After all, Utley is batting just .179 on the year, and at 36, it is clear the end of his career is in sight. For years he has thrown his body all around the diamond, and it has finally had enough. Hernandez is batting .301 in his first full season with the Phillies. As the Phillies continue to rebuild, it makes sense to find him as many opportunities to play as possible.
Despite the season-long struggles Utley has suffered through, Amaro had no business airing him out publicly in this fashion. Utley has given his entire career to the Phillies when he very easily could have returned to the West Coast at the first opportunity. It was Utley, first and foremost, who breathed life back into the moribund Phillies franchise and propelled them to the World Series. If Utley will be relegated to the bench when he returns, then so be it, but it does not need to be stated so publicly and so viciously. Amaro had not even spoken to Utley internally on the matter before these comments. That, to me, is inexcusable.
At the least, Amaro owes Utley a public apology. At worst, he owes the Phillies his job. He will pay with his job at some point for the bungled rebuilding process, but if he keeps up this torrent of vitriol against franchise icons, Ruben Amaro Jr. could, and maybe should be relieved of his duties before the end of the year. He is already a lame duck to begin with, as Andy MacPhail takes over as president this winter. Hard to imagine MacPhail would want to continue on with the man whose mess he is tasked with cleaning up in the first place.
Amaro’s comments were classless, tactless, and unnecessary. If he wants to burn as many bridges as possible on his way out the door, then so be it. Hard to imagine that is the best way to set yourself up as a candidate for future job openings. That is Amaro’s prerogative, though. If his poor behavior continues, the Phillies may have no choice but to remove him from his post earlier than anticipated.
Chase Utley should be celebrated, not slammed as his career comes to a close. The same cannot be said of Ruben Amaro Jr.