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Philadelphia Daily News: Ruben Amaro Jr. May be G.M. Frontrunner

The Philly Daily News reports that Phillies assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may be the leading candidate for the Pirates' GM job:

Days after the Phillies assistant general manager interviewed in Houston to become the Astros' next general manager, multiple baseball sources indicated that Amaro may also be the front-runner to replace the fired Dave Littlefield in Pittsburgh.

Word leaked out over the weekend that Frank Coonelly, Major League Baseball's senior vice president and general counsel of labor relations, will shortly be announced as the Pirates' new CEO.

That was followed almost immediately by strong speculation that Amaro is Coonelly's first choice to become the Pirates' next general manager.

This is consistent with the Post-Gazette's report that two of the four leading candidates for the Pirates job are assistant GMs, and with the timing of Dave Littlefield's firing. Owner Bob Nutting had previously said that he would wait until after the season to evaluate Littlefield's status, so Amaro's interviewing with the Astros could be the reason Nutting fired Littlefield early.

Maybe Amaro's a smart guy. I don't really know. Vlad knows a lot more about these things than I do. But I can't find anything really impressive about him, and the Phillies' chief accomplishments since Amaro took his post in 1998 have been finishing with 84 wins over and over, grabbing every washed-up, 30-something reliever available, and spending loads of money.

The Phillies got a very good player in each draft from 1999 to 2002 (Brett Myers, then Chase Utley, then Ryan Howard, then Cole Hamels). That's nothing to sneeze at but, as we all know, they then tried to trade Howard to the Pirates for Kris Benson. (The Pirates refused, in what proved to be a bonanza of godawful player evaluation by both teams.) The best trade the Phillies have made since Amaro was hired was in 2005, when they got Aaron Rowand and prospects for Jim Thome, finally making room for Howard. After that, their trades have been decidedly uninspiring. The Phils retained Larry Bowa long past the point where it should have been obvious that he was hurting their team, and they haven't won more than 88 games since 1993, even though they've had plenty of money.

Maybe Amaro wasn't responsible for any of those things. But if he's going to be the Bucs' GM, I'd prefer to see some evidence that he knows how to run a team, and right now I don't see any.