Phillies promote Sam Fuld
On Tuesday the Phillies promoted Sam Fuld to General Manager, a position that was previously held by the notorious Matt Klentak. Fuld has been in the Phillies organization since November 2017, when he came on as the Major League Player Information Coordinator, i.e. the guy who recommends advanced metrics to the coaching staff. Last year he was the Phillies' Director of Integrative Baseball Performance, where he was in charge of training, nutrition, and strength and conditioning.
Fuld is a young mind in a game that is consistently getting younger each year. The 39-year-old has been highly coveted around the league and was even a finalist for the Boston Red Sox manager job before they hired Alex Cora. While every position in an organization is important to the overall success of the club, certain positions definitely carry more weight than others, and general manager falls in the latter category. So what does adding Sam to the Fuld (I’m sorry, I just had to) mean for the Phillies?
This is still going to be Dave Dombrowski's show. As President of Baseball Operations, and especially considering his track record, Dombrowski will have final say. This isn’t a bad thing. As we’ve talked about extensively on the Podcast, Dombrowski has experience making decisions to acquire top-tier talent in “win now” moves. Considering the Phillies motivation to compete immediately, this is not a power I anticipate they will take away from him.
Fuld is being brought in not only to collaborate with Dombrowski, but also be a check against his more old-school philosophies. At past stops, Dombrowski was infamous bringing in elite-but-aging players on bad contracts in order to obtain the last few years of their primes. The Brow has been in the game since 1978, and as we all know, the game has changed significantly in almost every facet since then.
Fuld draws experience from his days as a player and working in the Phillies' organization. He will provide an analytics boost to the front office which should (hopefully) help them assess talent at a more accurate and successful rate than the previous regime. Combining his new-age approach with Dombrowski’s aggressive style should lead to a balance in the Phillies’ front office that puts them in a different position than other Dombrowski-led teams of the past.
Fuld is also a perfect candidate to be groomed for a future presidential role with the Phillies. He can work under Dombrowski over the next four years (the length of the President's contract) and gain valuable insight into what it takes to run a successful team. Owner John Middleton has to be aware of the current state of the teams Dombrowski has led in the past, specifically the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox, and is likely trying to avoid the same sort of abysmal rebuild following Dombrowski’s departure. Assuming Sam Fuld’s tenure as GM isn’t a complete disaster, I’d bet he gets promoted once Dombrowski’s contract is up.
For the first time in what seems like forever, it appears the Phillies have a plan, and a smart one at that. There seems to be a legitimate direction that John Middleton hopes the team will take and that should be a welcome sign for Phillies fans.
And, for what it’s worth, Sam Fuld also executed the most awesome janitor throw in history.
That counts for something, right?