It seems that Dave Dombrowski is hard at work transforming the Phillies into his team. Jim Salisbury, the Phillies beat from NBC Sports Philadelphia, was the first to report that Sam Fuld would be promoted to GM.
Fuld was originally hired by the team as the major league player development coordinator under then-manager Gabe Kapler in 2017 (I already know what you are thinking. Yes, Fuld does in fact eat his ice cream). A veteran of nine years, Fuld played outfield for four different teams, including three year stints with both the Cubs and the Rays. He actually developed kind of a cult following during his time in Tampa, being referred to as “Super Sam” due to his defensive prowess in the outfield. During his playing career, Fuld also was the centerfielder and lead off hitter for Team Israel during the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the first time that Israel qualified for the main tournament.
While this is his first crack at being a true executive in the MLB, Fuld’s previous job should give him great experience to help make the transition easier. When the team originally hired him in 2017, the press release said that Fuld would, “work closely with players, coaches, the front-office staff and the research and development department, integrating the use of information in all areas of on-field performance and preparation and make recommendations regarding the most effective areas of future research and analysis.” So he hasn’t been a high profile executive before, but his experience working with all departments of the team will only help him succeed in his new job.
A Stanford graduate with a degree in economics, Fuld has been interviewed for countless different managerial positions over the last couple years, and is believed to be a rising star in the sport. He has interviewed with the Blue Jays, Rangers, Pirates, and Red Sox (twice). He was also rumored to be in contention for other managerial roles with the Mets, Cubs, and Phillies (prior to hiring Joe Girardi). Many people in the know, including Jayson Stark of The Athletic, thought it was only a matter of time before Fuld got the reigns to manage an MLB team.
The Phillies and Dombrowski seized the opportunity to hire him to be the new GM, making for almost a perfect combination to be heading the team. Dombrowski will obviously be the top guy and will have the final say, but Fuld makes for a very interesting, yet complimentary voice in the front office.
In 2015, ESPN did The Great Analytics Rankings and the Phillies ranked dead last. Since then, they’ve poured a ton of money into analytics, and prior to the pandemic sported one of the larger analytics departments in baseball. With the money the team has already put into that research, it makes sense that they would still want to use the people in place. While DD is known as more of an old school guy, he did mention the importance of analytics in his first press conference.
Fuld will have a great mentor in Dombrowski to help season him and build a foundation for success. It was clear, like I said, that the rest of the league thought of Fuld as a rising star, and it was only a matter of time until someone gave him an opportunity—whether in the dugout or in the front office. Along with Jorge Velandia, who is going to be the assistant general manager in the revamped Phillies’ front office, the team feels like it‘s making their own type of star hire after so many rising executives turned them down this offseason.
I am, of course, the eternal Philadelphia sports optimist, but I think Fuld, along with Velandia, is exactly the type of hire that helps the Dombrowski hiring make more sense. There is a clear direction for the retool that DD has mentioned, and it’s evident in the moves that they’re making.
Let’s hope they can keep this up, as we all know what the Phillies’ next piece of business to attend to should be. With all these recent reports, it looks like there could be positive news on that front, too.