Without much fanfare, the Philadelphia Phillies released a statement earlier this week saying that current CEO and owner David Montgomery will step aside to take a leave of absence due to a health issue, and that his duties will be assumed by former GM Pat Gillick. What made the move important was that Gillick does not have the special family relationship Montgomery has with current GM Ruben Amaro Jr., and this could make it easier for the team and Amaro to part ways.
While Gillick groomed Amaro to take his place, the relationship between Montgomery and Amaro was on a whole other level. Those two go way back and have a father/son relationship. Montgomery, a University of Pennsylvania and Penn Charter High School graduate, was a fan of Ruben Amaro Sr. when the GM’s dad was a player with the Phillies and Montgomery was a boy at Connie Mack Stadium.
Amaro Jr. is also a Penn Charter High School graduate. As long as this current arrangement existed between two men who have that kind of history, Amaro Jr.’s job was safe.
Gillick, on the other hand, is able to step away from that history and take a more objective view of the picture. Gillick, who along with former GM Ed Wade built the 2008 World Series championship team, knows Amaro’s ill-advised contract extensions and failure of the farm system put the club in the last-place position it is in now. Without Montgomery around, he could convince the other owners to rubber-stamp Amaro’s removal.
Had Montgomery not been granted this leave, he would have likely vetoed Gillick. In reality, this gives the team an out to remove Amaro and replace him with someone who can build the team for the future.