Tag Archives: John Mallee

Charlie Manuel fine, but Phillies need higher-level change

The struggling Philadelphia Phillies baseball club stunned the fan base on Tuesday with the announcement that hitting coach John Mallee had been released, and that he would be replaced by popular former manager Charlie Manuel.

The stunning part wasn’t that Mallee was let go. The Phillies offense has struggled to find any consistency in parts of two seasons with the team since his hiring in November 2017.

Offensively, the Phillies rank just 19th among the 30 teams in Major League Baseball in runs scored per game this year. They are only 22nd in hits and OPS, 23rd in home runs, 17th in stolen bases.

After changing half the starting lineup from a year ago, bringing in stars like Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura, it was expected that the offense would be the least worrisome part of the 2019 team.

More surprising was that the 75-year-old Manuel would be taking his place, albeit on what is likely to be an interim basis. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said that this was a move which was not likely to extend beyond the balance of the 2019 campaign.

 
The move is certainly one that was, at least in some measure, calculated to inject enthusiasm into a fan base that was beginning to turn on the team. The Phillies have gone just 28-36 since their season high-water mark at 11 games over .500 on May 29. They had lost seven of their last 10 prior to Tuesday night.
 
With the Philadelphia Eagles preseason now underway and the NFL season set to begin in just three weeks, the Phillies were in danger of completely losing a large portion of their fans attention.

 
Manuel is the extremely popular former manager who led the Phillies to a 2008 World Series crown, back-to-back National League pennants, and five consecutive NL East titles. He compiled a 780-636 record as skipper from 2005 into the 2013 season, and has now been enshrined on the Wall of Fame.
 
What do the Phillies hope to gain from the change from Mallee to Manuel? The general manager seems to believe that it is more about how the message is being communicated to the hitters, rather than some major shift in philosophy.
 
I understand that there’s kind of a simplistic viewpoint here that we are shifting from new school to old school,” said Klentak. “But it’s really not that simple. I think the messenger is changing, but I think the message will be largely the same.
In the short-term, Manuel’s easy-going attitude, down-home demeanor, and positive messaging along with his hitting philosophy of attacking the pitcher aggressively should help some the rest of the way.
While that is important – no one wants to throw in the towel on 2019 – more influential for the longer run will be who ends up getting the job for the 2020 season and beyond. Will the organizational philosophy change if results do not improve? And, will it be Klentak who is doing that hiring?
Kevin Cooney of The Philly Voice did an excellent job yesterday of breaking down the questions and answers, and the politics within the organization, surrounding this decision.
Given what the tone of the conversation was over the past few months and the words of patience that came out of both Klentak and MacPhail’s mouth on various topics, it certainly doesn’t feel like a stretch to believe that this move had (John) Middleton’s fingerprints all over it.
Klentak noted that both MacPhail and principle owner John Middleton were involved in the decision to make this change.

Look, any time we make a big organizational decision, we’re very collaborative about that,” Klentak said per Matt Gelb with The Athletic. “So, John definitely was aware of this, involved in this — as he has been for a lot of decisions we’ve made. Andy MacPhail as well. But when we made these big decisions, they are done with a collaborative approach and a kind of united front. John was involved.

As I have written prior to this, the Phillies overall failures can be traced all the way up the chain to Andy MacPhail. He is the president of baseball operations. The buck stops with him. As long as MacPhail remains, there is no reason to believe based on the man’s track record that this organization will become a consistent long-term winner.
We have to hope that the injection of enthusiasm from Charlie Manuel helps the Phillies in the short-term. The fans are certainly happy to have him back. I’m personally happy to see him back doing what he does best, teaching and talking about hitting.
Middleton, as the owner who has spent nearly a half-billion dollars in upgrading his offensive personnel, is going to have to take a hard look this coming fall and winter at the people he has directing the organization at higher levels if he wants his baseball team to become a big, consistent winner.

Pivotal day in Phillies off-season as club officials meet with Bryce Harper

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Harper with a ‘Key to the City’ from his hometown of Las Vegas

A front office and coaching contingent from the Philadelphia Phillies will meet today with outfielder Bryce Harper in his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.

In what may prove to be the pivotal moment for the franchise for the next decade, the young superstar and his wife Kayla will be joined by super-agent Scott Boras.
The Phillies will be led by owner John Middleton. He will be joined by the club’s President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail, General Manager Matt Klentak, Manager Gabe Kapler, Bench Coach Rob Thomson, and Hitting Coach John Mallee.
During the meeting there will certainly be lengthy discussion about the team and its direction. They will talk about the ballpark and the fans. There will be discussions about the Philadelphia region and some of its attractions and offerings.
The Phillies group is surely going to try to sell Harper on being the face of the franchise. However, they will let him know that he is not going to be alone, that they fully intend to maintain a championship-caliber roster during the life of his deal.
Middleton’s presence in Las Vegas can mean only two things. One is that he intends to let the Harper’s and Boras know that the Phillies will not be financially outbid and are ready to get a deal done right now.
The second possibility is that the Phillies are still really more interested in the other major young free agent superstar on the market, Manny Machado, and today’s Vegas meeting is all just a major ploy, one that itself has a two-fold purpose.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic posited the following on Thursday:

“If the Phillies’ preference is Machado, as some in the industry believe, then the meeting from their perspective might simply be a ploy to drive up the price for the Nationals, a division rival. Harper and Boras, in fact, might be proceeding with the same motivation.”

So, the Phillies may be trying to drive up the cost for their NL East rivals to bring back Harper. That could conceivably tie the Nats hands on other moves over the longer term.
Secondly in that alternate scenario, the Phillies could be pushing Machado to make a quicker decision. If Machado and his agent, Dan Lozano of MVP Sports, feels that the Phillies and Harper are close to a deal, it might force the infielder’s hands in beating the outfielder to take a big payday from the team.
Back to scenario #1 for a moment. If the Phillies are indeed actually fully interested and desire Harper, what would it take to land him? Based on all of the available information, Boras certainly wants the richest contract in baseball history for his client by both total value and AAV, or annual average value.
It is no stretch to imagine that a Harper contract would be at least 10-years and $350 million. Such a contract might include some type of player opt-out after between 3-5 years, which could make him a free agent once again while still just 29-31 years of age.
The Phillies would be foolish to agree to an opt-out at three years after this much build-up for their fan base. If a deal is done, look for a Harper opt-out at no sooner than five years. If the Phillies want to avoid the opt-out entirely they are going to have to guarantee even more, perhaps as much as $400 million.
One thing is certain. If the Phillies are genuinely interested in Harper, then Middleton would not be flying out to Vegas without fully understanding the financial commitment that it would take to get the 26-year-old’s name on a contract.
The feeling around the baseball industry is that Machado is close to deciding. That announcement could come as soon as next week. It is entirely possible that by next weekend, we will know a decision. It will be monumental from the Phillies perspective.
If Machado chooses to sign with another team – the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox seem to be the only other possibilities – then the pressure on the Phillies to land Harper will be enormous.
But if Machado should choose the Phillies, then things become very interesting. Do the Phillies then move on from Harper? Do they try to land him as well?
The Phillies have more to do, no matter what happens with Harper or Machado. But it will be difficult to make too many more major moves until they get some resolution on these two biggest targets. Today is likely the pivotal day, one way or another.

Philadelphia Phillies 2019 coaching staff has been finalized

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Rick Kranitz let go after serving as Phillies pitching coach this past season

The Philadelphia Phillies announced moves over the last few days aimed at finalizing their coaching staff for the 2019 Major League Baseball season.

The biggest moves came with the big-league pitching staff. As our Tim Kelly here at Phillies Nation reported just two days ago, the Phillies let former pitching coach Rick Kranitz go, replacing him with the previous assistant pitching coach, Chris Young.
Kranitz had served on the big-league staff over the past three seasons as the bullpen (2016) and assistant pitching (2017) coach prior to taking on the primary pitching coach role this past season.

Prior to joining the Phillies, Kranitz served as pitching coach with the Florida Marlins, Baltimore Orioles, and Milwaukee Brewers.

Today the Phillies announced that Dave Lundquist, who has served as the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs pitching coach for the last three seasons and has been coaching in the Phillies organization for the last 11 years, will move up to take the position as the new assistant pitching coach to Lundquist in Philadelphia.
Returning to the staff for next season are manager Gabe Kapler, his bench coach Rob Thomson, and both hitting coach John Mallee and his assistant, Pedro Guerrero. Also coming back are first base coach Jose Flores and third base coach Dusty Wathan.
Others making a return to the staff for the 2019 campaign will be bullpen coach Jim Gott, bullpen catcher and catching coach Bob Stumpo, and Craig Driver, who also serves as a bullpen catcher with duties as a receiving coach.
The removal of Kranitz from the pitching coach position was somewhat surprising. There are four legs to any successful baseball team: pitching, hitting, defense, and coaching. It can be argued that the pitching staff was the one competitive leg that the Phillies could rely on for much of the 2018 season.
Todd Zolecki at MLB.com quoted Phillies reliever Pat Neshek on the loss of Kranitz through a text from the veteran:
Best pitching coach I EVER had. He was a huge influence on me during my time in Philly and I think with the entire pitching staff. You’ll never hear one pitcher say anything bad about him. He had an excellent attitude every day that the players respected. Decisions happen in baseball all the time. Kranny will be tough to replace.
However, according to MLB insider Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, a number of teams were after Young to fill their primary pitching coach position. The Phillies simply felt he was too valuable to lose. Evidently, more valuable than Kranitz, who the club will allow to interview with other organizations even though he remains under contract.
promoting assistant pitching coach Chris Young to pitching coach in place of Rick Kranitz, sources tell The Athletic. Team will allow Kranitz to interview elsewhere. Move prompted by multiple teams showing interest in making Young their head pitching coach.

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The Phillies new pitching coach should not be confused with either of two MLB players who each saw significant big-league time over the last decade.
There was as Chris Young who played as an outfielder with six teams from 2006 through this past season, and who is now a 35-year-old free agent. The other Chris Young was a pitcher who appeared from 2004 through the 2017 season with five different clubs. He is now retired and at age 39 is a vice-president within the Major League Baseball administrative organization.

The Phillies pitching coach played college ball at Mississippi State, and was selected by the Colorado Rockies with their 18th round pick in the 2002 MLB Amateur Draft. Following six minor league seasons he retired. From 2010-17, Young served in a scouting position with the San Diego Padres and Houston Astros before joining the Phillies staff this past season.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Phillies set their 2019 big-league coaching staff