Things are heating up in the Phillies’ search for a new skipper.
Various media outlets reported this week the Phils have already interviewed three in-house candidates, third base coach Juan Samuel, Triple-A manager Dusty Wathan and special assistant to Matt Klentak, Jorge Velandia, for the manager’s job. There are now also reports the team wants to speak with Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, now that the Indians have been surprisingly bounced from the postseason.
Samuel has managerial experience, at the helm for 51 games as an interim skipper for the 2010 Baltimore Orioles. He took over the team after they fired Dave Trembley and was replaced by Buck Showalter later in the season after going 17-34.
Wathan has been very successful over the last two seasons managing in the Phils’ system, leading Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro and a band of others to the postseason with AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley. Considering much of the 2018 roster will consist of those very same players, Wathan is an obvious candidate.
Less obvious a candidate is Velandia, who has been in the Phils’ organization in a variety of capacities for the past eight seasons ranging from player-personnel and coaching to becoming a special assistant to Klentak a year ago.
But perhaps the most interesting candidate the Phillies are confirmed to interview is Callaway, who has helped transform the Indians’ rotation into one of the best in baseball.
The 42-year-old took over as pitching coach in 2013 and helped develop stars Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco into Cy Young candidates, and is credited with helping enigmatic starter Trevor Bauer take his game to another level this season. In 2012, Cleveland had the worst ERA in baseball (4.79). This year, it was an MLB-best 3.30, and as Philly.com’s Matt Gelb noted, the staff’s 3.65 ERA from 2013-2017 was the best in the AL.
Whoever the Phillies hire, one thing is clear. The next manager must have a clear desire to implement the plan being put into place by Klentak. There is no doubt the front office has put a premium on using analytics when making player personnel decisions, and they want a manager who values that.
In other words, they want a manager who isn’t going to continue to bat Freddy Galvis in the No. 2 hole simply because he looks like a No. 2 hitter.
Joining me on this week’s Felske Files podcast is former Phils beat writer for MLB.com Ben Harris, who is now a contributor for The Athletic, as well as numberFire.com. He discussed the type of manager the Phillies are looking for, and also the contributions of hitting coach Matt Stairs’, whose work with many of the Phils’ youngsters was noticeable.
Also on this week’s podcast, a breakdown of the league championship series and which teams will emerge to play in the Fall Classic.
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