Thursday afternoon, the Philadelphia Phillies announced that they had fired manager Gabe Kapler after two seasons. Given that the Phillies waited over 10 days after the conclusion of the 2019 season – and that there are seven other managerial vacancies – the organization will now have to quickly pivot and begin a search for their next manager.
Here’s a look at 10 names that could make sense:
Wathan is the winngest manager in the history of Double-A Reading, managed Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2017 and has been Gabe Kapler’s third base coach the past two seasons. He also was the runner-up to Kapler in the Phillies last managerial search. Wathan was among six finalists for the Texas Rangers managerial vacancy last offseason, so there’s a good chance he’s going to be a big league manager eventually. Whether he would be a sexy enough pick in this specific search – or if the Phillies would hire someone from Kapler’s staff – remains to be seen. The Phillies did announce that he’s been asked to return to their staff in 2020.
Like Wathan, Thomson has been asked to return to the Phillies staff in 2020. For the past two seasons, he’s been the team’s bench coach. Prior to that, he spent a decade on Joe Girardi’s staff with the New York Yankees. He did interview for the Yankees managerial job when Girardi was let go after the 2017 season. If for nothing else than to show respect, Thomson feels likely to get an interview for this job. One way or another, he’ll likely be a vital member of the 2020 coaching staff.
MLB.com‘s Todd Zolecki says that the Phillies would have liked to interview Showalter to be their manager the last time they had a vacancy. That didn’t happen because he was still the Orioles manager. However, Showalter is available now, as he and the Orioles parted ways after the 2018 season. Matt Gelb of The Athletic wrote earlier this week that there’s believed to be “mutual interest” between the two sides. His tenure in Baltimore did overlap for varying degrees of length with much of the Phillies current front office, including president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak and assistant general manager Ned Rice. If he’s not the front-runner, he’s pretty close.
While the 60-year-old Upper Darby native reportedly would have interest in managing the Phillies, the fit doesn’t seem to be great. Scioscia won a power struggle over former Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto (now the Seattle Mariners general manager), who didn’t think he implemented analytical information into his instruction and in-game decision making enough. 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.
Baker has never been heralded for his in-game decision making, but he’s managed four teams – the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals – and he’s left all four with a record over .500. Getting to manage Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Joey Votto and Max Scherzer probably didn’t hurt, but players generally really respect him. That said, there was some indication after the Nationals fired Baker in October of 2017 that Bryce Harper may not have been overly keen on Baker.
DeRosa has a profile not that different from what Alex Cora had a few years ago. He’s currently a studio analyst for MLB Network, after a 16-year career as a utility player. While most Phillies fans will remember him as part of the Bobby Cox-era Atlanta Braves, he’s from northern New Jersey and has a degree from Penn’s Wharton School.
The sad part about Girardi’s likely return to managing in 2020 is that he’s actually an excellent analyst for both RADIO.COM and FOX. But he won National League Manager of the Year in his lone season as Florida Marlins manager in 2006. The Yankees let him go after 2017, when their season concluded by losing in Game 7 of the ALCS. Sometimes a new voice is needed, but Girardi was 200 games over .500 in a decade as Yankees manager. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman suggested after moving on from Girardi that he didn’t think he was effective enough in speaking to younger players. He’s had two seasons out of the game to attempt to retool himself as a skipper. Whether it’s the Phillies or any other team this offseason, the bet here is Girardi’s next managerial stop will be successful.
Farrell was seen as the bronze medalist in the last Phillies managerial search and did help guide the Red Sox to a World Series in 2013 while collaborating with Ben Cherington’s forward-thinking front office. He was also let go after the 2017 season, with a fairly universal perception that the Red Sox were underachieving. Farrell is a former pitcher and pitching coach, though, and the Phillies haven’t done a good job of developing pitching talent once it reaches the major league level in recent years.
Perhaps his profile is to similar to 2017 Gabe Kapler, but Fuld, an outfielder that played in eight major league seasons, is the Phillies current major league player information coordinator. He’s only 37 and played as recently as 2015, so his job is essentially to be a go-between from the front office/coaching staff and players regarding analytical information. Fuld did interview for the Toronto Blue Jays managerial opening last offseason – before ultimately taking his name out of the running – and was said to have done excellent in said interview. He’s probably a long-shot in this case, but the guess here is he’ll be a manager for some team in the next five years.
It seems overwhelmingly likely that Maddon will be the next manager of the Los Angeles Angels, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today did report shortly after Kapler’s firing that the Phillies do “pique the interest” of Maddon. But for as cool of a story as it would be for Maddon, a Hazelton native, to manage the Phillies, this just doesn’t seem to be the right situation for any parties involved. He appears destined for California, one way or another, and the Phillies may want a stricter manager.
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