Dave Montgomery has taken a floundering franchise and led it to its most successful era ever in his 17 years as Phillies president. They won a championship in 2008, built one of the most fan-friendly ballparks in America and sold every seat to every game for more than three years.
Now Montgomery is about to do something that will undo much of his good work. He appears committed to bringing back the most unpopular general manager in Philadelphia sports history, Ruben Amaro – a decision that will doom the Phillies in the immediate future, both in the standings and at the box office.
How unpopular is Amaro right now? A poll last week had 94 percent of the fans voting to remove him no later than the end of this lost season. That’s almost 19 out of 20 people, in a sports city notorious for its fan disagreements.
The conventional wisdom surrounding Montgomery is that he blames the entire front office — including himself — and doesn’t want a loyal employee like Amaro to become a scapegoat. In his defense, Montgomery knows better than us who is responsible for all of the bad deals and bad trades since Pat Gillick stepped down as general manager after the parade. There may be some logic in his loyalty to Amaro.
But now it’s not about fairness; it’s about business. Who is going to buy tickets for a team being rebuilt by Amaro? The Phillies have lost over 8,000 fans per game this season — the most in baseball — and they will lose even more if Amaro stays.
Montgomery needs to fire Ruben Amaro no later than the end of this season because fans need hope for the future, and Amaro offers no hope at all.