On a disgusting Friday afternoon, some clarity was revealed regarding the Phillies‘ search for baseball operations leadership. It seems that the team is moving onto the second round of interviews.
In a report by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury, the Phillies are going to be interviewing both candidates Michael Hill and Josh Byrnes for a second time. Both Byrnes and Hill have plenty of experience running baseball operations department for other teams
Hill was the president for the Miami Marlins from 2013 to 2019, after a six year stint as the team’s general manager. The Marlins seem to have a bright future ahead of them led by surefire ace Sixto Sanchez, and Hill is a big reason why. Byrnes serves as the senior VP of the Dodgers, but prior to that, had served as GM for both the Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres. Taking a job with the Phillies would be a homecoming of sorts, as Byrnes played college baseball at Haverford College.
According to Salisbury, the Phillies are looking to hire a president who would then in turn hire his own GM. I have said numerous times that the Phillies hoped to follow a similar blueprint to successful teams of this decade with a GM reporting to a president. That was the intention when the team originally hired Andy MacPhail, but MacPhail focused more on the business side and let former GM Matt Klentak do his own thing. Names like Hill and Byrnes fit the profile of a big name executive to come and run the team, but it wasn’t the name that caught my attention.
Also on Friday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted that current Minnesota Twins’ GM Thad Levine was ‘a significant player’ in the Phillies’ search for a head of the baseball operations department. As Levine is currently second in command to Derek Falvey in Minnesota, the Twins are obligated to allow him to interview for what would be a promotion. While no report of him officially interviewing came out, you would have to believe that he has already interviewed with the team.
Levine has been in baseball since the year 1999, when he broke in as a assistant director with the Colorado Rockies. It is believed that MacPhail, who was the Twins’ GM from 1986-1994, was the one who initiated contact between Levine and managing partner John Middleton. The two side have already talked, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. Levine, like Byrnes, also played his college baseball at Haverford College, so he is familiar with Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.
The Twins have been one of the more popular franchises to hire staff members away from, as they have had at least six staff members poached away within the last three years, with Derek Shelton, manager of the Pirates, having the most high profile job. It’s not a coincidence that this is the case. The Twins have been one of the more productive teams the last few seasons in the American League, and are coming off a AL Central title with a record of 36-24. With an already strong nucleus of big league talent and a farm system led by high profile bats like Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff, the Twins seem to be be in good hands for the foreseeable future. The Phillies showing interest in Levine is understandable.
There is no timetable for the Phillies to make a move, however the Phillies should probably have someone in place prior to the end of this offseason. Frankly, it is not even a certainty that they hire an executive this offseason. Interim GM Ned Rice is currently in control of the Phillies baseball operations department and Middleton has expressed faith in his ability to lead the team, if need be.
With how crucial this offseason has become for the Phillies, I doubt they would want to have someone with ‘interim’ in the job title steering the ship.
I know Phillies’ fans don’t.