Davey Lopes is Available and Would Help Phillies Staff
The Phillies have announced a handful of their coaches for 2018: third base coach Dusty Wathan, hitting coach John Mallee, and Rick Kranitz, who may be pitching coach or something else to be determined. That means the Phillies have to fill the position of bench coach, first base coach, bullpen coach, and one more spot to their discretion (some teams have assistant hitting or pitching coaches). The Washington Nationals finalized their coaching staff under new manager Dave Martinez today, and one notable name was missing: first base coach Davey Lopes.
Lopes became first base coach under manager Dusty Baker two seasons ago and served alongside him both seasons. After Baker was dismissed despite winning back-to-back National League East titles in his two seasons as manager, all coaches but Expos-holdover Bob Henley were replaced. Lopes is now a free agent.
Lopes was best known for his ability to work with baserunners. When the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, Lopes received a great deal of credit. Former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told Ryan Lawrence, then of the Delco Times, that Lopes was the best in the business?
"Davey Lopes is the best baserunning coach I've ever been around," manager Charlie Manuel said during the playoffs. "He has a tremendous way of studying pitchers, their deliveries and things. How many bases we steal, percentage-wise, it speaks for itself. Before he got here, we hardly stole any bases."
Lopes departed after the 2010 season, allegedly due to a stance on coach compensation, but Lopes quickly joined the Los Angeles Dodgers and coached there under manager Don Mattingly for his full five year tenure (2011-2015). Lopes then joined Baker in Washington for 2016 ane 2017.
It is unclear if Lopes is interested in coaching going forward. Lopes hinted at retirement prior to the 2010 season, and the 2017 season has just been completed. Lopes is now 72 years old, the same age that former Phillies player, coach and manager Larry Bowa will be next month. Lopes might be ready to retire now.
But if not, the Phillies have a great amount of untapped potential on the basepaths. Cesar Hernandez, who naturally possesses speed, stole just 15 bases in 511 at bats, despite a .373 on base percentage. Youngsters Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams and J.P. Crawford all possess some raw ability that could stand to learn from the wisdom of someone like Lopes.
But maybe Lopes is ready to retire. If so, how about an offer to be a special instructor in Spring Training? That would have minimal travel, and Lopes could impart his wisdom to the young Phillies players. Like Bowa, the forever Phillie, Lopes may end up in the same situation with his old team, the Dodgers.
But it's worth a shot.