We ranked Rob Thomson No. 35 on our annual Value 50 for 2018. Here’s more on why we think he’s important:
Regardless of how you may feel about him, it’s evident that much of the Phillies’ potential success in 2018 and beyond will depend on how first-time manager Gape Kapler performs. While there are certainly a great many factors that make for a great manager, one important aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked is how the manager and bench coach work off of each other.
In place of fan-favorite Larry Bowa, Kapler named Rob Thomson as the Phillies’ new bench coach. Thomson is coming off of a 10-year stint with the Yankees, four of those years spent in the same position under Joe Girardi. During his time in the Bronx, the Yanks made the playoffs six times, most recently upsetting the Indians in the American League Division Series last year and nearly doing the same to the eventual world champion Astros in the American League Championship Series.
Given that a lot of a bench coach’s responsibility involves discussing in-game strategy and ideas with the manager, it can be difficult to measure his level of success over the course of a season. Ultimately, much of Thomson’s hopes for having a successful tenure with the Phillies will depend on Kapler.
As a second-in-command, it stands to reason that nobody will be working more closely with Kapler this season than Thomson. While Kapler will need to be capable of coming up with his own plans for the team and successfully executing them, having someone to bounce those ideas off of and further develop them will be important throughout the season. Considering everything that the Phillies need to be competitive in 2018, it may seem like a small role, but it’s important nonetheless.
So far, the best endorsement we’ve seen about Thomson has been from Kapler himself. He was gushing about Thomson when the Phillies announced his hiring, with Kapler saying that “he’s among the most prepared people that I’ve ever been around, the most diligent people I’ve been around.” In the process of adjusting to a new team and position, Kapler having a bench coach that he has complete confidence in should go a long way in boosting his own confidence as a manager.
On top of the endorsement, Thomson also has the benefit of 30 years of coaching experience, beginning in 1988 when he became a minor league coach for the Tigers, just three years after being drafted by them. He’s spent most of his time coaching for New York, and while I hate to admit it, it might not be a terrible thing if he brings a bit of that typical Yankee confidence with him. Obviously nobody wants to see it on an obnoxious level, but if the Phillies are going to succeed this season, bringing in somebody who’s seen a lot of winning firsthand could work.