Pete Mackanin was exactly what the doctor ordered following the resignation of Ryne Sandberg in 2015. He was similar to Sandberg in a way of giving tough love when needed, but also in knew how to communicate and had personality — two traits Sandberg failed to show. Mackanin’s record wasn’t all that impressive after taking over the helm for Sandberg at just 37-51, but the team responded to the interim manager. Mackanin guided the worst club in baseball to a 16-5 stretch through July and August that brought out the best out of Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, and Cesar Hernandez. Last year, the Phils were the surprise of the baseball world through the first six weeks of the season. Since then however, Franco and Herrera have been shells of themselves, and it’s been all downhill.
Having the ability to speak fluent Spanish, Mackanin was able to relate to the large percentage of Latin born players in the Phils clubhouse. Mackanin’s presence was clearly felt. He benched guys, called players out when necessary, and spoke the truth. Well, it seems as if Mackanin is a shell of himself as a manager, too.
We can go on and on about how the skipper has nothing to work with, but in reality, Mackanin hasn’t done his part either. Let alone the questionable on-field moves, it’s the lack of communication and discipline on this team that’s causing the demise of the third year manager.
At this juncture, Herrera can do whatever he wants. Mackanin’s response for Herrera’s latest base running blunder when he was picked off third base last Thursday was, “I’m not pleased about it.” That’s after not running on a full count with two outs earlier in the game and blowing through Juan Samuel‘s stop sign the night before.
Then, Mackanin had issues with Pat Neshek‘s availability during the Cardinals series last week. On Wednesday, Neshek was told he had the day off prior to the game. Mackanin said Neshek told him he was too sore to pitch. Then on Thursday, Neshek needed just five pitches to get out of the eighth inning. He didn’t pitch the ninth because Mackanin said that Neshek declined. Neshek said Mackanin never asked him to go out for the ninth. A classic game of “he said, he said.” Does it need to be that difficult?
Let’s not forget about Joaquin Benoit putting in his two cents. He was quoted earlier in the year saying he and the bullpen needed defined roles to pitch effectively. In his defense, Mackanin was all over the place with his bullpen. First Gomez started as the closer, then it was Benoit, who after one blown save was ousted in favor Hector Neris. Most of that was done little or poor communication, which is detrimental to the mental stability of players. Fault lies with both the players and Mackanin.
With all of that, it’s no surprise the Phils are 24-51 — on pace for 110 losses. Once viewed as a solid manager, the skipper is now barely treading water. Evidently Pete has lost the team and hasn’t been able to conduct the most simplest acts of communication or discipline.
It’s safe to say the Phils front office isn’t a bold one and is often slow to react. Scott Kingery was finally moved up to triple-A after hitting .313 with 18 home runs, despite being ready weeks ago. Nick Williams has played in triple-A for a year and a half now. Rhys Hoskins is hitting over .300 with 60 RBI in 76 games. He’s already 24. Team President Andy MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak let Mackanin walk into this year as a lame duck. It took them six weeks to extend him for 2018.
Moral of the story: Pete Mackanin has been bad. And don’t expect the front office to act on it any time soon.