By Mary Cunningham
When a government or a sports team fires someone on a late Friday afternoon it is a sure sign they are hoping no one will notice.
And when they do it by email, instead of with a presser, they are sending the implied message that they don’t much care about the poor sap who is being fired.
Take the case of Marti Wolever, whom the Phillies are making the fall guy for a minor league system that is virtually bereft of major league prospects.
The Phillies started what many fans hope is a front-office purge as assistant general manager in charge of amateur scouting Marti Wolever was fired.
The move was announced via email by general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who said in a statement that, “the Phillies express appreciation for Marti’s many years of service to the organization.”
In other words, Amaro, the worst general manager in baseball, is hoping that he won’t be the next to go.
Wolever, had been a member of the Phils’ scouting department for 22 years and was responsible for a bulk of their draft picks since 2002, when Mike Arbuckle was promoted to assistant G.M. before moving on to the Royals after 2008.
Wolever is the fall guy for a series of drafts that failed to provide much depth in the minor-league system, with first-rounder Anthony Hewitt (2008) and supplemental first-round pick Larry Greene (2011) serving as the two biggest bombs, as neither player ever showed anything close to the potential their draft positions alleged they possessed.
Of course, much of the depth that the Phillies had in the system was traded away in deals that brought Roy Halladay (Travis d’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor), Hunter Pence (Jarred Cosart, Jon Singleton, Josh Zeid, Domingo Santana) and other established players to town.
Funny thing about the guys who were traded — none of them has made a ripple in the majors.
Ironically, the early indications are that Wolever and his staff had two of the organization’s better high-pick performances in each of the last two Junes. In 2013 the Phils selected outfielder J.P. Crawford with the 16th overall pick and the shortstop has been making a fast track up the organizational ladder, earning the Paul Owens Award earlier this month as the minor-league player of the year. This June the Phils took LSU pitcher Aaron Nola, who worked his way to a Double-A appearance after just two professional months.
However, Wolever received some unwanted bad public-relations in February when a reports surfaced that the Phillies had reported 2013 fifth-round pick Ben Wetzler and sixth-round pick Jason Monda to the NCAA, alleging both had illegal representation when they jilted the team’s bonus offers and returned for their senior seasons in college. Wetzler received an 11-game suspension, while Monda was cleared of wrongdoing.