Brad Ausmus? That’s old news. Get your head in the game, people, because the managerial rumor/actual information mill is always moving. Well, not really; it’s often quite still and silent, and only abruptly bursts into furious motion, causing massive casualties before coming to an equally sudden stop.
In any case, here’s the latest.
Ah yes, time to go over the Phillies’ managerial options, including my favorite, the Indians pitching coach, and drink an entire mouthful, and I’m talking bulging cheeks here, of my coffee without swallowing it—
An #Indians official asked me recently, “Why WOULDN’T the Mets hire Mickey Callaway?” Saw him as perfect fit for team built around pitching.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 22, 2017
Mickey Callaway is nothing if not charismatic. He's telling stories, grinning at his introductory press conference. Made-for-TV charm.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) October 23, 2017
Sounds like Mickey Callaway's approach will be mix of— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) October 24, 2017
- Treating players as people first
- Creating a winning culture
It certainly sounds like the Mets have agreed to terms with the hap-hap-happiest young man to ever put on what I think he may have thought was a Yankees uniform, as he referred to the Mets as “one of the greatest franchises in the world.” In any case, you know what the Mets signing this managerial candidate means: That the Phillies didn’t. Which of course makes him the greatest manager in the world. I hope he can teach Noah Syndergaard what an MRI machine does!
Callaway’s never had the job before, no; and there’s no indication that he’d have been better with the Phillies yet, either; that’s true. But the Mets have him and the Phillies don’t, so this technically qualifies as a “missed opportunity,” leaving the Phillies to select their new skipper from a crop of guys you still have to mostly Google.
I’m sure everything will be cool and Callaway will in no way clash with the toxic cloud of Mets-ness that surrounds the organization for some indiscernible reason.
I’m not sure that Callaway’s vision will jibe with Wilpon’s pic.twitter.com/LFD1xMs6BG— Mr String Gianella (@MikeGianella) October 24, 2017
Here’s the blog featuring Kapler’s personal thoughts on health, nutrition, and communication, featuring appraisals by David Price, Mike Lowell, Mark DeRosa, and A.J. Ellis. So now we all read that regularly.
The original “Hebrew Hammer” before former teammate Ryan Braun co-opted the name, it would be tough not to cast the hiring of Kapler as a response to the Mets also hiring a boisterous, very young (Kapler and Callaway are both 42) first-time manager with a mind for the modern numbers, according to Joe Giglio:
Progressive to the extreme: Kapler, currently serving as the Los Angeles Dodgers' player development director, isn't just ahead of the curve when it comes to trying to find an edge; he's drawing his own lines.
There’s a lot of that going around right now; teams nabbing not just a more progressive manager, but THE MOST PROGRESSIVE MANAGER. Which forces us to revisit why this sport operates so exclusively in absolutes. Where are the managers who don’t stop learning on the job, or adjusting to changes in the roster or the sport? Why is adapting, using your gut and modern statistics, viewed as a weakness? Changing is not surrendering. For god’s sake, your job is to harness the millions of combustible parts that make up baseball around 25 different human beings. I get it; over 162 games, routines can be comforting. They can also land you in a rut. Why fluidity doesn’t factor more into this is consistently troubling.
Kapler seems to recognize at least part of this; the part on not caring what anyone else thinks about the choices he makes.
“Caring too much about what others think of you stifles your ability to take risks... Being better than the pack requires doing something different."
But, hey. The Dodgers were more than happy to tell teams how wonderful Kapler—whose focus is on nutrition, Chip Kelly-style, and had the team switching to organic foods and banned snack machines from the clubhouse—was. The Mets still didn’t want to interview him. He also wasn’t the Dodgers manager either, you might notice—though he did come in second to Dave Roberts.
Kapler would be leading a young Phillies clubhouse of rookies, sophomores, and greenhorns, whose elder statesmen are Freddy Galvis, whose future with the team is uncertain, and Odubel Herrera, whose thought process is occasionally uncertain. Kapler communicates, emphasizes the modern facets of the game that the Phillies had missed for years, and obviously prioritizes health and nutrition. This feels more like a “big brother” dynamic than...
The Philadelphia #Phillies zeroing in on Dusty Wathan to become their next manager, promoting him from Triple A Lehigh Valley— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 25, 2017
...this one, who is literally the guy who has spent the last few years watching most of the Phillies develop when they were AA and AAA sprouts.
Wathan is the steady hand, the most predictable answer, and one that would be difficult to challenge, given a long-standing relationship with the majority of the players. Wathan’s also a first-time manager, and is only 44, and since 2008 has managed every level of the Phillies farm system, winning the 2009 South Atlantic League championship with Lakewood before becoming the winningest manager in Reading’s history in 2016.
Unlike every other candidate, Wathan has thoughts on just about every key young Phillies player already:
- Maikel Franco: “He does everything well. He has a better-than-average arm, he’s a better-than-average defender and he has better-than-average power.
- J.P. Crawford: “He has a lot of range and he’s accurate as heck.”
- Rhys Hoskins:
Rhys Hoskins' former Triple-A manager Dusty Wathan smiling maniacally from the dugout like Dr. Frankenstein seeing his creation come to life pic.twitter.com/BKBraEwYBe— Ben Harris (@byBenHarris) September 15, 2017
And, for what it’s worth, they love him back:
- Rhys Hoskins: “I felt very comfortable going to him with baseball stuff and non-baseball stuff. To have that in your manager’s office is pretty special and just adds to the bond that he has with his players.”
- Aaron Altherr: “I love playing for him."
- J.P. Crawford: “He was my favorite manager in pro ball when I was coming up.”
And all the rest
Jon Heyman let us know who’s out and who’s still in.
phils getting closer on manager: hale is out, nevin reportedly out, callaway took mets job. kapler, velandia, wathan, samuel, others in— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) October 25, 2017