Today in news that is surprising yet not surprising: Dave Brundage, who has managed the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs for the last four years, has been given the boot and will not be back in 2017.
This isn’t surprising considering the news that came from the team this year, which usually concerned Brundage locking horns with one of his players. But it’s surprising in that he was actually fired. Despite all the controversy, in no way did I expect him to be let go. But he’s a holdover from the Amaro era, and despite leading Lehigh Valley to their best season under his tenure, he must not have given Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail what they wanted.
It should be said that we really have absolutely no idea why he was fired. Neither the Morning Call or Philly.com even ventured a guess about it, and the Phillies aren’t likely to ever let us know. So everything I say after this is just conjecture. But when you fire a minor league coach after his most successful season, his record on the field is obviously not the reason he was let go.
My guess is they want different leadership for their very important, future-defining young players. Nick Williams clashed with Brundage several times during the season, and a few players (Williams included) took steps back this year. Those steps back may be small and temporary, but unless there’s a new guy helming the IronPigs next year there’s no guarantee of that.
Housenick mentioned a few names that could be candidates to fill the position in 2017. One is Dusty Walthan, who is currently managing the Double-A Reading Fightins. (The Fightins were just sadly bounced out of the playoffs.) Another is Phillies’ first base coach Mickey Morandini, who still has amazing facial hair (and is good at his job).
We’ll have to wait and see. But I can’t say I’m sad that Klentak and MacPhail are continuing to put their stamp on the organization. Out with the old, in with the new. Maybe they’ll tackle the PR department next.