Amaro may be in line for Pirates' GM job

Posted: September 10, 2007

The plot thickens for Ruben Amaro Jr.

Days after the Phillies assistant general manager interviewed in Houston to become the Astros' next general manager, multiple baseball sources indicated that Amaro may also be the front-runner to replace the fired Dave Littlefield in Pittsburgh.

Word leaked out over the weekend that Frank Coonelly, Major League Baseball's senior vice president and general counsel of labor relations, will shortly be announced as the Pirates' new CEO.

That was followed almost immediately by strong speculation that Amaro is Coonelly's first choice to become the Pirates' next general manager.

It makes sense. Coonelly's role was to advise teams on the proper value for free agents, guidelines for arbitration, and slots for signing draft choices. In that capacity he talked frequently with Amaro, as he did with all other assistant GMs.

Beyond that, he is a Bucks County resident and Phillies season ticketholder.

Amaro said yesterday that, as far as he knows, the Pirates have not asked the Phillies for permission to interview him, which would be the necessary first step.

That's probably not significant at the moment, however, since Coonelly's appointment hasn't even been officially announced yet.

It's at least interesting that the Pirates, who had maintained all along that the futures of Littlefield and manager Jim Tracy wouldn't be decided until the end of the season, fired the general manager on Friday . . . 1 day after Amaro interviewed with the Astros.

It remains to be seen whether the Pittsburgh situation will force the Astros to accelerate their timetable for replacing Tim Purpura. It's unclear what Amaro's preference would be if he had offers from both teams, although Houston appears to be much closer to being ready to contend than the Pirates, who are on the way to their 15th consecutive losing season.

It would also be interesting to see, if Amaro gets an offer from either team, whether the Phillies make an effort to keep him considering that general manager Pat Gillick turned 70 last month. *

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