The Philadelphia Phillies managerial job isn’t currently open. But if the organization elects to move on from Gabe Kapler at the end of the 2019 season, there’s apparently an accomplished MLB manager that has interest in the position.
In the latest edition of “Big Time Baseball” on RADIO.COM Sports, Jon Heyman says that he’s heard that former Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia would be interested in managing the Phillies.
Born in Upper Darby, Scioscia managed the Angels from 2000-2018. Most notably, he guided the Angels to their first World Series title in 2002, a seven-game series that they won over Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants. In 19 years as Angels skipper, Scioscia posted a 1,650-1,428 record (.536 percent).
However, while the Angels averaged nearly 93 wins per season between 2002 and 2009, they reached the postseason just one time in Scioscia’s final eight seasons as the manager, which happened to be the first eight years of Mike Trout’s career.
How seriously should this possibility be taken? Well, first of all, any interest Scioscia may have in managing in Philadelphia would become a moot point if the Phillies retain Kapler for 2020, the final season of his contract. Bob Nightengale of USA Today wrote in early August that “the prevailing belief among Phillies executives is that Kapler’s job is safe.” That, of course, was before the Phillies fired hitting coach John Mallee and replaced him with Charlie Manuel, a move that Matt Gelb of The Athletic said at the time was led by managing partner John Middleton.
The Phillies will enter Tuesday evening’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 67-62 record, just one game back of the Chicago Cubs for the second Wild Card spot in the National League. It stands to reason that the future of Kapler, 44, is still to be determined.
One sign that Scioscia may not be an ideal fit in Philadelphia is that he didn’t implement analytical information into his instruction and in-game decision making in Los Angeles in a way that pleased former general manager Jerry Dipoto. Now the Seattle Mariners general manager, Dipoto resigned from his post as Angels general manager in July of 2015, and ultimately went on to say that he had an unhealthy relationship with Scioscia.
Never mind that current Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, like Dipoto, is analytically inclined. This goes deeper than that. Prior to coming to Philadelphia, Klentak was the assistant general manager for the Angels. He joined the organization following the 2011 season, Dipto’s first season as Angels general manager. The Angels did interview Klentak to be their general manager before ultimately tabbing former New York Yankees assistant general manager Billy Eppler for the position in October of 2015. A few weeks later, the Phillies hired Klentak to be Ruben Amaro Jr.’s successor.
Even within a front office, executives that are generally like-minded can value certain analytics differently and have different philosophies on how to get coaches and players to by into implementing the information they are provided with. Simply because Klentak worked under Dipoto doesn’t mean the two agreed on every topic. With that said, the guess here is that there was probably a lot more overlap in thinking between Dipoto and Klentak than there was with Scioscia and Klentak.
Unless there is an arranged marriage, it’s hard to envision the Phillies current front office being as interested in Scioscia, who is still just 60, as he may be if the position opens up. Middleton may very well be frustrated with how the 2019 season has gone for the Phillies, but he was effusive in his praise of Klentak just this spring, and signed him to an extension through 2022. If there is a managerial change, Klentak will likely be allowed to preside over the next search, and it’s difficult to imagine Scioscia being a fit under those circumstances.
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