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Category Archives: David Montgomery

Misunderstood: Scott Rolen Left a Lasting Impression On Philadelphia

Scott Rolen in his days with the Phillies. (AP Photo)

Perhaps it was the clashing of personalities with manager Larry Bowa. Or maybe it was the comment made by front office member Dallas Green. Or maybe it was the desire to win that ended it all in Philadelphia.

Whatever the reason was, Scott Rolen wanted out in 2002.

For the next decade, Philadelphia fans would boo their once-lauded All-Star, Gold-Glove third baseman, yell obscenities at him and watch him go on to hav a successful career without Philadelphia. Why? Because they were hurt.

But maybe the fans were booing the wrong guy.

Rolen turned down a massive contract extension during the 2002 season, saying that it wasn’t money but the Phillies front office didn’t have an aggressive approach to building a winning team.

Fans got scared that the best position player in their team history since Mike Schmidt, another third baseman, was about to jump ship for greener pastures.

And it happened.

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Faceoff: Who should we thank?

Question: Was Pat Gillick responsible for the Phillies current success as a franchise and perenial power in Major League Baseball?

Writer Brian Jacobs decided challenge the rest of the Faceoff competitors with this question and John Russo, reeling from his loss to Christian Hetrick, wanted to get himself in the win column.

Brian: Yes.

The Philadelphia Phillies formed a new brand of baseball in the city of Philadelphia during the 2000’s. In 2005, Pat Gillick joined the front office, and the Phillies took off from there.

Former general manager of the Phillies, Ed Wade, brought in the big bat of Jim Thome to go along with the new stadium, Citizens Bank Park, in 2004. Most Phillies fans wouldn’t hesitate to smash Wade and those horrific seasons under his watch, but a small portion of credit should be given to him.

Former Phils GM and HOFer Pat Gillick helped bring a championship to Philadelphia for the first time in 25 years and the first World Series in 28 years.

With Gillick at the helm and new scenery, the fans had a taste of something they were deprived of for years, which was change. Are the Phillies going become a winning team? What are our expectations now? Those were the questions, asked by fans of the club during this time of change.

Gillick’s first big move was trading Jim Thome and cash to the Chicago White Sox for Aaron Rowand and two prospects. Thome’s time in Philadelphia was somewhat symbolic. It was almost as if his stay in the city was simply used as a jolt of electricity that the city was in need of.

Along with the players on the field and the front office, Gillick created a feeling of hope and positive expectations for Phillies fans to bask in. The Phillies were no longer going to accept defeat. They were finally sick of seeing the Atlanta Braves at the top of the division.

Once again, a few pats on the back should be given to Ed Wade. Gillick inherited the future stars, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, whom Wade had drafted. Gillick then brought over the rule-five selection, Shane Victorino, along with the battered bat of Jayson Werth. We all know how that turned out. Gillick looked like a genius and he wasn’t done.

The Phillies finally entered the post-season, but failed to get past the Colorado Rockies in the National League Division Series. In the offseason, Gillick made a trade with the man he had replace, Ed Wade, who was, and still is with the Houston Astros organization. In came Brad Lidge and his soon-to-be perfect season. Thanks again, Ed Wade.

The Phillies went on to win the World Series in 2008 and they’ve been knocking on the door ever since.

A lot of times, players receive most of the credit for a successful season. General managers sometimes get slighted, but I have a feeling that Pat Gillick and his master plan, as the Philadelphia Phillies’ general manager will find a way into the hearts of fans if it hasn’t already.

John: No.

Three huge things have factored into the recent success of the Philadelphia Phillies before Pat Gillick even stepped in as GM: the farm system, Scott Rolen and the new stadium.

I’ll attack the more logical reason first. The Phillies farm system was teeming with talent. Before Gillick was GM, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels were playing minor league ball. They had Pat Burrell, Brett Myers and Jimmy Rollins already up on the Phils.

But you will bring up Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth being acquired along with Pedro Feliz and Brad Lidge. Werth and Victorino were diamonds in the rough. It was a complete shot in the dark on whether or not they would make an impact.

But Rolen may actually have been the catalyst in David Montgomery and the rest of the office relinquishing their tight grip on their wallets. When offered a 10-year, $140 million contract to stay with the Phillies, arguably for life, Rolen turned it down because of squabbles in the front office because they showed no interest in winning.

Not only has Chase Utley cememted himself as the greatest Phillies second baseman of all time but he may find himself in Cooperstown one day.

Rolen was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for three scrubs and Placido Polanco, who gave way to Utley three years later and returned to the Phillies in 2010. Only months after the trade did the Phillies front office get it. They signed first baseman Jim Thome and third baseman David Bell to replace Rolen on the field and in the line up. They also traded back-up catcher Johnny Estrada for Braves starter Kevin Millwood, who threw a no-hitter during his tenure with the Phillies.

It didn’t stop there as the Phillies finally sought external help, signing players like Pedro Feliz, Adam Eaton and Freddy Garcia (don’t laugh, they were supposed to be big improvements at the time), Jamie Moyer and traded for Brad Lidge.

But the money didn’t grow on trees. In 2004, the Phillies moved into their current stadium, Citizens Bank Park. Their lowest attendance since the stadium opened was 75% capacity. And with a division win in 2007, a World Series win in 2008, a NL Pennant in 2009 and another division win and league’s best record in 2010, the Phillies are selling out games and have seen  their payroll sky rocket from under $58 million in 2002 to $170 in 2011.

Gillick was a fantastic GM but the right pieces were there before he became the GM in 2005. All he did was do some minor tweaking and turn the Phillies into World Champions, finishing the job started four years before he was signed.

Amaro, team agree on extension

UPDATE – Ruben Amaro, Jr. officially signed a four-year extension with the team.

The deal keeps Amaro in the Phillies’ front office through the 2015 season. His contract was set to expire after this season.

“Since becoming our general manager in November of 2008, Ruben has done an outstanding job,” team president David Montgomery said in a statement. “He has been an excellent leader for our baseball operations personnel, surrounding himself with a very capable staff which he uses very well. Ruben has shown great judgment in his player moves and enjoys a strong relationship with Charlie, our coaches and the players.”

In a short time, Amaro has improved the team tremendously so this is a well-deserved extension. The Phillies are 190-134 during his time with the team which is the best record in the National League within that span.

March 11, 2011 – Charlie Manuel wasn’t the only one to make some extra coin this past week.

Only a couple days after giving Manuel a two-year contract extension, the Phillies and GM/senior vice president Ruben Amaro, Jr. agreed on an extension according to the Inquirer’s Bob Brookover on Twitter.

Amaro took over for Pat Gillick only weeks after the Phillies won their second World Series in 2008.

There still is nothing new on the deal for Amaro as the team hasn’t officially announced it. This post will be updated accordingly.

Story from CSN.

“Local Gems”: A sit down with Phillies President, David Montgomery

David Montgomery has one of the toughest jobs.

He is the President of a Major League Baseball team. Not just any team but his hometown team, the Philadelphia Phillies.

David Montgomery, who grew up in Roxborough, PA just outside of Philadelphia, was born and raised in Philadelphia. He grew up watching the local professional Philadelphia teams play.

He graduated from William Penn Charter High School, went to University of Pennsylvania. He started working for the Phillies some 30 years ago.

Phillies president, David Montgomery, speaks at a press conference four years ago.

On Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 he spoke a capacity crowd at Springfield Township High School in Erdenhiem, PA. He was a featured speaker in a “Local Gems” program that the Township runs, highlighting local celebrities and famous people who have made an impact on the township and the community.

Montgomery spoke about his job as President of the Phillies, and what his job entitles. As well as spoke about what makes this franchise unique. Fan support, as Montgomery stated during his discussion, has helped the franchise become successful both on and off the field.

“The players can ‘feel’ the fans,” Montgomery stated and continued, “One of the things that Cliff Lee mentioned was the fact that the fans don’t need a teleprompter to get loud.”

He said the players notice the fans, and notice that they travel well. Whether it’s as many Phillies as Nationals fans in D.C. or Phillies fans out west, everywhere they go, the team always sees Phillies fans, Montgomery stated.

“It’s that passion for sports in Philadelphia,” he said. “Whether it’s at home or on the road or even at Spring Training at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Phillies fans travel excellently.”

Montgomery started to talk about Spring training in Clearwater. Bright House Field, the Phillies single-A and Spring Training site in Clearwater, has been averaging greater than capacity (8,000). The average attendance at Bright House Field during Spring Training, according to President Montgomery? 9,100 on average. That’s 114% filled on average. In other words, it’s sold out thanks to not only the seats inside the stadium, but the grassy areas outside of the outfield fences.

Of course, one of things that he mentioned, was the big league ballpark: Citizens Bank Park. This is the 8th season that the Phillies have played there. According to Montgomery, one of the main points with the ballpark and attendance, is that ballpark’s design is appealing to fans. It’s intimate design and close proximity to the field gives, Citizens Bank Park a Minor League Baseball feel, but at the Major League level. Montgomery credits Standing Room tickets and the fans who are willing to stand for two-plus hours to watch a game.

“Another factor with fan support is the demographics of the fans. We focus on a two-pronged design: hardcore + family and the young adults.” As he stated, the demographics of Phillies fans have changed a lot since 2000 – even 2004.

Now, more and more young adults are attending Phillies games as a place to meet, be seen at, or a cheap date, etc. Montgomery continued on the young adults: “those young adults, we hope eventually become the family fans, who take their kids with them and teach them the sport of baseball.”

There is no doubt about it that Phillies fans are some of the most passionate fans in the league. Montgomery noted this and said, “because of the fan support, it makes Philadelphia a premier destination for players. Roy Halladay waived a no-trade clause to come play in Philadelphia. Roy Oswalt did the same. And Cliff Lee (this offseason) spurned more money to come play here.”

Not only, but he mentioned the atmosphere of the clubhouse, from Charlie Manuel to the rest of the players. “Players focus on the overall success of the team, not their own individual success,” he noted.

Chase Utley was a key player he mentioned, “no one plays the game like Utley. His focus on the game…” Montgomery gives credit to the plays by saying, “the players respect game by focusing on team success and that the players “get it” by just focusing on the game.

Montgomery credits Charlie Manuel for the team’s success. “He’s had a lot to do with the success. It’s his approach… his ‘style’ as well as the coaching staff he utilizes. Charlie pretty much has handed over the pitching staff to Rich Dubee; and the pitchers know that when they talk to Dubee, they are talking to Charlie,” he mentioned.

Montgomery gave a look forward into the future. “To look ahead, the goal is to extend current success as long as possible.”

Part of this, as Montgomery noted, was to maintain the current nucleus of ballplayers as well as the tone in the clubhouse. He mentioned the change in ball club dynamic.

“In years prior, it was built for offense, with guys like Chase, Ryan [Howard], and Jimmy [Rollins]. Now it’s built towards pitching, with Doc [Halladay], Roy [Oswalt], Cole, and Cliff.”

He even gave the reasoning behind GM Ruben Amaro Jr. going after Cliff Lee: “it was because, we have Oswalt for one more year with a mutual option; Cole for two more years; Doc until 2013 with a vesting option (vesting: if he hit’s a certain stat it’s triggered, in this case innings pitched) for 2014; and finally Cliff Lee until 2015 with an option for 2016.” He also picked up on the fact that both Rollins and Raul [Ibanez] were free agents. “We would love to re-sign Jimmy [Rollins]…”

For the nucleus of this ball club he gives credit to the farm system and the scouting/player development departments.

“The goal is to be able to produce enough inside the farm for use with the big league club or for use in trades,” Montgomery said.

He even admitted that the Phillies were not rich in top level prospects at the three major stops: Lehigh Valley, Reading, and Clearwater. But he did mention some current prospects: Dom Brown; a shortstop prospect at Reading named Freddy Galvis; and relief prospects Vance Worley and Justin DeFratus. But he stated that the next group of talent was at least 2 to 3 years away from the Major League level and that they are not going to sit around and wait that long.

Mr. Montgomery has had nothing but praise for GM Ruben Amaro Jr. He even credited him with some of the current success that the franchise is having. Most people know that, Ruben Amaro Jr. was a local talent.

But as Montgomery stated, “it was Ed Wade who convinced Ruben to stop playing baseball and come up to the front office as an advisor to him. His years under Wade and Pat [Gillick] compliment him now.”

And it’s not just that it’s the business aspects. “The fans view the players not just as talent, but as people too.” Majority, if not all of the current Philadelphia Phillies, according to Montgomery are heavily involved inside the community of Philadelphia. He also mentioned the reason behind the cap on season tickets: “it was so there could be more for our group and individual ticket sales”.

After Montgomery finished his talk and the Question/Answer segment, he was kind enough to sit down with me to answer some questions.

BM: “What’s the deal with [Jamie] Moyer? Do you know what his plans are?”

DM: As you know, he recently had Tommy John Surgery on his left arm. He is going to rehab as if he is going to pitch again, just not this season… in 2012. Of course he will be age 50. He would also like to expand into broadcasting if he can not pitch again as well as help the expansion of his charity, Camp Erin into 25 major league cities (cities with at least one MLB team).

BM: “Tell me about this Scoreboard upgrade”

DM: In ‘04 when Citizens Bank Park first opened it was only Standard Definition, since no one even thought about High Def. But if would of waited until ‘06, it would have been High Definition. It got to the point where the SD Scoreboard became too much to operate and service, thus the upgrade.

BM: “Your thoughts on the right field situation with Werth leaving”

DM: As you know, we made an offer to Werth. It was a three year with an option for a fourth year. He obviously left. But we feel that given the proper at bats, Ben Francisco can become a more significant hitter with more at bats. Of course, there is Dom Brown who is also going to play a big part. We also have a AAA prospect in John Mayberry as a right-handed bat, and of course we can use [Ross] Gload for Werth’s production with the bat.

BM: “Alright, how about your thoughts on Joe Blanton”

DM: Blanton is going to be the fifth starter. We are just fine with Blanton as our fifth starter or whoever else it made be: Kendrick or Worley.

BM: “Okay, fun time! If you could pick any five pitchers, current or retired, who would you pick?”

DM: I stick within our franchise. I go with some of the starters I’ve seen. Robin Roberts, Hall of Famer; Steve Carlton, Hall of Famer; and Roy Halladay, future Hall of Famer. I’ll stop there.

BM: “What do think will happen first: Flyers winning the Stanley Cup, the Eagles winning a Super Bowl or any of the Phillies starters throwing a no-hitter/perfect game?”

DM: The Flyers have a good shot at winning the Cup this year.

BM: “What would you be doing if you weren’t the President of the Phillies?”

DM: I don’t know. I was a marketing major in college.

BM: “Finally, what is it like being President of the hometown team?”

DM: It is like a dream come true.

David Montgomery has one of the most interesting jobs in the world: president of a MLB team. But it’s not just any team; his hometown team in Philadelphia. He is grateful that he has been with the Phillies for so long and he looks to help continue the current success of the franchise into the years to come. I would like to personally thank him for sitting down with me to answer my questions.

GM for the Day

By Dan MacNeal

If I woke up tomorrow morning as Ruben Amaro, Jr. and GM of the Phillies I’d have a list of what I could do to help the Phillies in one day.   First, if I was Amaro, I’d be going to President David Montgomery’s office (probably find him sleeping, nestled with his World Series ring) and login to his e-mail and delete the tens of thousands of e-mails asking for me to be fired.  Most likely, ol’ Monty doesn’t know how to use e-mail, but I might as well as delete them just in case.

Nice suit, Danny Mac!

Secondly, I’d go down to the locker room and put a wooden chair in front of Danys Baez’s locker, and force him to kick it.  Not talking about one of those weak “I’ll knock the chair down kicks”; I mean a wind up and boot that sucker like a “David Akers trying to nail a 55 yarder to win the game” kick.  Then I’d call up whoever from the Iron Pigs, doesn’t matter who it is.

After I have finished with Baez, I’d find Greg Dobbs whiffing while trying to hit off a tee.  Time to cut bait with him.  Calling up Jason Donald in his place.  Oh, we traded him? Cripes, do we have any decent talent semi-ready for the big leagues? No? Can I still put in a phone call to Nomar? Ok, ok, I’m kidding.  Red rover, red rover send Cody Ransom over….I guess. Not many options with that one. Chuck, keep him glued to the bench until I can trade away a prospect for another journeyman infielder.

Matter of fact, I’m letting everyone in the organization know to not let me do anything involving prospects from here on out.  Dominic Brown must be protected from my destruction.  After that memo is sent out, I’m going to ask Jayson Werth’s agent to grab a bite with me. Wherever he wants, price is no object.  Hopefully I can use this little slump to my advantage for negotiations. How sneaky am I?!?

As for Mr. Ibanez, well fans of the team that won the NL that I built (okay, I know Gillick did most of the work but still), it seems there is nothing really I can do at this point.  Maybe if this was next year and Dom Brown was destroying AAA, putting Ibanez into a bench role would be alright.  No, friends, we may have to ride this one out and hope Rauuuuuulll remembers how to hit.  Only if those sneaky Giants didn’t sign Pat Burrell! Damn, we thought by doing nothing to sign him for two weeks, we’d be able to snatch him up easier! Damn you, Brian Sabien! Who do you think you are?!?

I think next, I’ll head down to McFadden’s and try some of their famous nachos (and you thought this post wouldn’t have nachos in it!!) After that, I’ll spend the rest of my day praying that Halladay’s arm doesn’t fall off until after I’m gone.  If I’m gone, it’s Proefrock’s problem, not mine!

And now, it’s time to wake up.  Boy, listening to McCarthy and Wheels drone on just put me to sleep…wow, dreaming I was GM of the Phils, wow, what a dream.  Or was it…?

This blog post is satire, obviously I do know being a major league GM is hard work and you can’t always listen to the fans or you’ll end up sitting with them (as the old saying goes). Just having a little fun at Rube’s expense.

Filling In the Void

Here are a few things I read during the past couple days in the wake of the Phillies second straight NL championship. We are all sitting here watching the Angels refuse to go away as the series heads back to New York for game six with the Yankees up 3-2.

Rollins, Victorino Fine:

Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino were both hit by pitches during Wednesday’s 10-4 win over the Dodgers. Rollins took a pitch off his left foot and hobbled to first. He was visibly frustrated after the pitch and was also noticeably hurt during the remainder of the game. Victorino was hit in the left elbow. Both had X-rays done and both came back negative.

After Lee, Rotation Not Set:

A very interesting scenario is starting to play out for the Phillies as they wait to see how the rest of the Yankees/Angels series plays out. Regardless of the opponent, the Phillies will be on the road for the first two, at home for the next three, and will close the series on the road.

Cliff Lee is the starter for game one but after him, it isn’t clear who will pitch games two through four. The Phillies are thinking about Cole Hamels for game two and I actually disagree. Hamels is a better hitter than Pedro Martinez and I would rather see him at the plate for at least two at-bats.

I also feel that putting Hamels versus the Yankees third starter is a better match up even though it could very well be C.C. Sabathia. Andy Pettite will start game six tomorrow for the Yankees and Sabathia likely in game seven. This is all assuming the Yankees do win the series.

My rotation looks like this: Lee, Martinez, Hamels, Blanton

Phillies Don’t Care Who Opponent Will Be:

Sure beating the Yankees would be sweeter but if they face the Angels, the task will still be difficult. Regardless of who they play, the Phillies know what needs to be done and that is win.

David Montgomery had this to say:

“We’re happy to represent the National League and I’m sure we’ll be facing the best of the American League,” Phillies president David Montgomery said. “In the case of the Angels, they’re the only team other than us who has won their division three [years] in a row. And the Yankees have the best record in baseball. Now it’s set up, whichever team we play, we absolutely can feel that we’ll be facing the best of the American League.”