Big news today coming from the Phillies as the team announced that Larry Bowa will return to the coaching staff for the 2014 season as Ryne Sandberg‘s bench coach while Pete Mackanin returns to the team as Sandberg’s third base coach. The three men, Bowa, Mackanin, and Sandberg, couldn’t possibly be more intertwined. Bowa and Sandberg were traded on January 27, 1982 in a deal that may wrightly stake claim to the title of “worst trade in Phillies history”.
The Phillies sent the pair to Chicago for Ivan De Jesus. Bowa would spend three-and-a-half seasons with Chicago before wrapping up his career with the Mets in 1985 while Sandberg went on to be a Hall of Fame second baseman. DeJesus would hit just .249/.319/.319 in three seasons with the Phillies. Meanwhile, Macknanin was a coach in the Cubs minor league system while Sandberg was with the Cubs.
Bowa managed the Phillies from 2001 through Game 160 of the 2004 season, posting a 337-308 record with the club, while Macknanin was Charlie Manuel‘s bench coach from 2009 through 2012. Both Bowa and Mackanin, of course, were also players with the Phillies: Bowa a five-time NL All-Star and two-time NL Gold Glove-winning shortstop and Macknanin a .176 hitter in 18 games with the Phillies between 1978 and 1979.
Analysis: The big fear here is that the Phillies are not bringing in fresh faces to motivate the clubhouse. That idea is not necessarily true, however. Of the current roster, Bowa’s tenure as manager overlaps with just three players: Jimmy Rollins (622 games), Chase Utley (135 games), and Ryan Howard (17 games). Bowa’s energy could be a positive to jump start a rebuilding team, much like he did as manager of the over-achieving 2001 Phillies.
Mackanin’s presence, however, is not so new. Of the active 40-man roster, including potential free agents, Mackanin’s time in Philadelphia overlapped with 23 of the 40 players.