Yesterday the Phillies announced the hiring of three new coaches to replace the ones they fired two weeks ago. Each new coach – Art Howe, Jimy Williams, and Davy Lopes – is a former major league manger and is thus expected to bring significant experience to the Phillies staff. Between them, they have led seven teams to playoff appearances. They are also familiar with Charlie Manuel – Lopes played with the Phillies skipper in LA and Howe was in the league at the same time.
Art Howe will be the new third base coach as well as infield instructor. Most might remember him recently as a talking head on Sportscenter and Baseball Tonight and former Mets manager. Howe, who is 59, owns a career managerial record of 1,129-1,137 with the Astros (1989-93), A’s (1996-2002) and Mets (2003-04).
Coaching first base will be the 61-year-old Davy Lopes. He will also serve as an outfield and baserunning instructor. As a player, he is one of only 36 men to steal more than 500 bases in a career, so hopefully he can unlock the stolen base potential of Shane Victorino among others. Lopes, the least tenured manager in the lot, spent parts of three seasons managing the Brewers from 2000 to 2002, guiding them to a 144-195 record. Personally, I am not a huge fan of Mr. Lopes, after he talked smack to my mom when she threw out the first pitch at a Phillies game.
Finally, Jimy Williams will be charge of managing the bench. The 63-year old has a combined 910-790 record as manager with the Blue Jays (1986-89), Red Sox (1997-2001), and Astros (2002-2004). His claim to fame is that he was the manager of those three teams in the period just prior to their World Series appearances.
Now, I am not sure whether any of these guys are being specifically groomed to take over the Phillies helm (they, like Manuel, have contracts that expire after the upcoming season); but Pat Gillick certainly setup up a secure safety net in case he decides to fire Manuel in the middle of the 2007 season.