Philadelphia Phillies: Managerial candidates begin to emerge

We have our first sense of who might succeed Pete Mackanin as the Phillies’ 54th manager.

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It’s been a week and a half since the Philadelphia Phillies made the surprise announcement that Pete Mackanin will not be returning as manager for the 2018 season. Now that the shock has worn off, the picture of who might replace Mackanin is coming into focus. The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo has given us one of the first lists of potential candidates, and here we’ll look into them and how likely they might be.

Big names—and strange ones

Of the two most prominent names on the list, one of them is quite the puzzler: Ruben Amaro, Jr.

Amaro is the man who most Phillies fans blame for leaving the franchise in the state it is in at present. He succeeded Pat Gillick as general manager in 2009 and held the position until 2015. He is blamed for stripping the farm system during the Phils’ halcyon years of 2007-11 and then pulling the trigger far too late on the rebuild, diminishing the return on what trades they made once they had finally bitten the bullet.

Since leaving the Phillies Amaro has moved out of the front office and onto the field, serving as the first base coach for the Boston Red Sox for the last two years. His goal has been to take over a team in the dugout one day, but his candidacy for this vacancy can’t be all that serious. His on-field coaching experience is painfully limited, and given his history with the Phillies, hiring him would cause outrage amongst the team’s fan base. Let’s be real, no one wants to deal with outraged Phillies fans.

They would be far more interested in the other major name being bandied about: Buck Showalter. Showalter has ties to team president Andy MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak from their time in Baltimore.

This would be an incredible hire. He’s one of the most experienced managers in the game, and this Phillies team looks a lot like the Orioles squad he took over and eventually led to the playoffs in 2012 and 2014. There is a solid young core in place with more prospects on the way. The Phillies might even be a better situation than that O’s team because, with a major market and a huge cable deal, the Phils have far more spending power than Baltimore has. If Maikel Franco fails to prove he should be the long-term third baseman on this team in 2018, the prospect of reuniting with Showalter could lure Manny Machado in free agency next winter.

The problem here is Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Angelos has a long history of refusing to release people from contracts early, and Showalter’s deal doesn’t expire until after 2018. It may be easier in this case given that Showalter, as Cafardo mentioned, may have problems in the Baltimore locker room. But unless that develops it’s unlikely that this candidacy, however alluring, will be altogether realistic.

The rest

The rest of the names on Cafardo’s list aren’t as glamorous but contain some intriguing names. Dusty Wathan, the current manager of the Phillies’ Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, has long-standing relationships with many of the team’s young pieces, having managed many both in Allentown and at Double-A Reading, where he managed from 2012-16.

Larry Bowa, the team’s onetime manager and bench coach since the dark days of Ryne Sandberg, has been put forward, although his being 71 years old would be a strike against him. He also clashed with elements of the Phillies’ clubhouse in his previous tenure as manager, most notably Scott Rolen, who eventually forced a trade from the team.

Former Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge is also a candidate as is Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Charlie Montoyo, but no one on the list really attracts the same attention—positive and negative—as Showalter or Amaro. Neither is likely, but can you imagine?