Who Could Return on the Phillies Coaching Staff?
We await official word on the fate of Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and the coaching staff. We know that the team will need a hitting coach, as Charlie Manuel was just minding the fort for the rest of a season. We also learned that Chris Young will be reassigned in the organization. But it sounds like many of the coaches are here to stay.
Meghan Montemurro of the Athletic noted that at least four coaches are going to stay in town:
Team sources indicated the Phillies have reached agreements with at least four coaches on the nine-member coaching staff, by picking up an option or offering a new deal for next season. It’s possible there will be more holdovers. The Phillies would not confirm the moves on Thursday. General manager Matt Klentak could not be reached for comment. The Phillies began to finalize decisions about their coaches this week.
Beyond that, that Young was reassigned seems to indicate that the Phillies like the capabilities of their manager and coaches.
Since Kapler's fate has not been officially announced, it is not hard to come to the conclusion that the Phillies front office sees value in Kapler. At season's end, players publicly seemed to back their manager.
Bryce Harper publicly offered his support to Kapler and the coaching staff to NBC Sports Philadelphia:
I think all of the guys in this clubhouse back him with what he does every single day as a manager. The staff that we do have with Rob Thomson, and Paco (Figueroa), Dusty (Wathan) and everyone on down. If that conversation needs to be had, that’s way over my head. There’s guys above me that make those decisions. If we do need to have that conversation, I’ll be all ears.
Chances are that Phillies owner John Middleton, who is reportedly making the decision on this matter, consulted his $330 million 2019 free agent acquisition.
Maybe the conclusion when it came to Young was that he is talented in terms of his quantitative analysis, but not strong at communicating it to players. Could the Phillies shift Kapler's role, too? That seems unlikely; if the players like Kapler as a manager, there is really little reason to make a change.
Here is a rundown of the Phillies coaching staff:
Rob Thomson, Bench coach
Thomson is highly respected. The Phillies hired Thomson to perhaps be an "old school" voice next to the progressive Kapler. Thomson was bench coach of the New York Yankees under manager Joe Girardi.
Speaking of Girardi, could Thomson be holding out agreeing to a new deal with the Phillies to see if Girardi would like him to be his bench coach in a new role? Girardi is set to interview with the Chicago Cubs for their managerial vacancy.
Pitching Coach - Vacant
David Lundquist, Assistant Pitching Coach
Lundquist was the in-house replacement for Young when he was promoted in November. The Phillies definitely like Lundquist in the organization; he was most recently pitching coach of Triple-A Lehigh Valley. But due to the late nature of his promotion, the Phillies might not have had many options. I think either way Lundquist is offered a job in the Phillies organization.
Hitting Coach - Vacant
Pedro Guerrero, Assistant Hitting Coach
Guerrero stuck around even as hitting coach John Mallee was fired back in August. The Phillies hired Guerrero as an under-the-radar minor league coach. The organization probably still thinks highly of him and thinks he will continue to grow. I can see him staying around.
Paco Figueroa, First Base/Baserunning Coach
Figueroa joined the Phillies major league staff, replacing both roles formerly held by Jose David Flores. Flores joined the major league staff of the Baltimore Orioles. The Phillies did not really steal many bases in 2019, but that could be due to organizational philosophy.
Dusty Wathan, Third Base Coach
Wathan has long been a rising star in the Phillies organization. A runner up for the managerial vacancy, It is hard to see the Phillies parting with Wathan. So far, Wathan's name has not come up for any of the current managerial vacancies, though Wathan interviewed for the Texas Rangers job last offseason. Of note: Wathan has familial and personal ties to the Kansas City Royals organization, who are seeking a manager. However, Mike Matheny is thought to be a favorite for that job.
Jim Gott, Bullpen Coach
Gott dealt with a constant revolving door of relievers last season. While Gott does not totally have to do with the pitching performance, Gott gets to manage the personalities in the bullpen, overseeing warm ups and talking pitch selection. The Phillies bullpen actually leveled out after July, with some scrap heap acquisitions. There is no reason to believe Gott will not return.
Bob Stumpo and Craig Driver, Catching and Receiving Coaches
Stumpo and Driver work in the Phillies bullpen, helping warm up relievers. They also provide catching work with the catching staff. They spent a lot of time with Deivy Grullon this September to help develop his skills. Andrew Knapp also improved defensively in 2019. Both should be safe.
Bobby Dickerson, Infield Coach
There is no reason to think Dickerson will not return, unless he has an opportunity for a higher-profile job. Dickerson has many years experience as an infield coach, but has also served as a third base coach in the major leagues with the Baltimore Orioles under Buck Showalter.