Phillies’ New GM Matt Klentak: “I Came Here to Win”

The Phillies introduced their new general manager, 35-year-old Matt Klentak, to the media today. He says he'll build a winner — hopefully soon.

Matt Klentak - CSN Philly screengrab

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak (Screengrab via CSN Philly)

Speaking to reporters in Philadelphia for the first time since being hired as general manager of the Phillies, Matt Klentak sounded like a reality show contestant: He didn’t come here to make friends. He came here to win.

“I would not have left Mike Trout in his prime if I did not believe we could win,” said Klentak, formerly the assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Angels. Well, duh. But he also hinted he did not expect to go through a long, Sixers-like rebuilding process.

“For the timeframe part, I have very ambitious goals,” Klentak said at his introductory press conference. “I’m leaving a very proud and ambitious organization to come here. I didn’t do it to lose. I came here to win … We will win as soon as it is humanly possible to win.”

How quickly that comes depends on the players, said the 35-year-old Klentak, who added he did not intend to make “sweeping changes” in the organization.

Klentak replaces Ruben Amaro, who was general manager from after the 2008 season to September of this year. Phillies president Andy MacPhail said all the candidates the team interviewed shared the same vision for the Phillies, and the front office didn’t “laze in” on Klentak until recently. He said he made it a point to bring in a “high character guy” for the GM job.

“This is going to be a test, particularly for someone taking the job for the first time,” MacPhail said. “You’ve got to have the courage of your convictions.”

Klentak didn’t say too much about his vision for the team, but gave five different bullet points about the future of the Phillies.

  • Discipline: “We need to understand who are are, who we want to be, and how we’re going to get there.”
  • Process: “In all areas of baseball operations, we’re going to be connected. We will work together, we will have a process.”
  • Information: “We want to be the best at everything that we do. We want to have the best scouts in the field, the best coaches … we will use every form of technology and information available to use. How we manage that will be the key. We want to take all the information from different people … if we have the best information we will make the best decisions.”
  • Culture: “We can’t force culture, but we can create an environment … that allows our players to get better and allows the Phillies to win a lot of baseball games.”
  • Winning: “That’s ultimately what this is all about. I know that, you know that, the fans of Philadelphia know all of that.”

Klentak also said that the free agent market wasn’t the best way to acquire “surplus value,” especially for a rebuilding team. Translation: Don’t expect the Phillies to make a big splash in free agency.

Part-owner John Middleton told reporters, though, that the team is committed to building a winner in Philadelphia again.

“There is nothing like winning in Philadelphia … this stadium every night was just electric,” he said. “It was rocking every night … In the playoffs you had 45,000 people stomping their feet and screaming. You could literally feel the stadium swaying underneath your feet.”

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