PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Matt Klentak got his first directive from his new boss with everyone watching.
“All of us want, Matt, want to feel that stadium sway again,” Phillies owner John Middleton said after the team hired Klentak to be their general manager and vice president on Monday.
The 35-year-old Klentak becomes the youngest GM in team history. He had been the Angels assistant GM since November 2011.
Klentak replaces Ruben Amaro Jr. who was fired in September by new team president Andy MacPhail. He takes over a club that finished last in the majors with a 63-99 record.
“I have very ambitious goals. I want to win,” Klentak said. “When is going to be dictated by the players. The game isn’t about the guys who wear ties and sit at the table.”
Klentak previously worked for MacPhail in Baltimore as the Orioles director of baseball operations from 2008-11. He then served as the No. 2 man behind GM Jerry DiPoto for four seasons. Klentak interviewed for DiPoto’s job after he resigned this summer, but the Angels hired Billy Eppler earlier this month.
“We found an executive with the keen ability to understand cutting-edge baseball analytics, coupled with superior scouting, player development and leadership skills,” MacPhail said.
“Additionally, his commitment and resolve to build the foundation for a championship-caliber team was evident every step of the way through the process.”
Klentak, who played shortstop at Dartmouth, began his career in the majors as a front-office intern with Colorado. He then worked in Major League Baseball’s Labor Relations Department until MacPhail first hired him in March 2008.
He has a strong analytics background and experience in contract negotiations.
“It’s a critical piece of the puzzle,” Klentak said of sabermetrics. “We have to make sure we use all of the information at our disposal.”
The Phillies underwent major changes on and off the field this year.
Ryne Sandberg resigned as manager in June and Pete Mackanin was hired to replace him after serving in the interim role for a few months. MacPhail later took over as president for Pat Gillick, who returned to his advisory role with the club.
Before he was fired, Amaro sped up the rebuilding process by trading ace Cole Hamels, All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon, and six-time All-Star Chase Utley.
The Phillies won five straight NL East titles, two NL pennants and the 2008 World Series from 2007-11. Middleton turned to Klentak during the news conference and told him what it was like to be at the ballpark during those winning times.
“This is a phenomenal sports town,” Middleton said. “When you win here, you will really love being here.”
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