Phillies Set To Interview Three Internally For Manager Position


As you likely know by now, the Phillies fired Pete Mackanin after two and half seasons at the helm. To be technically sound, Mackanin “stepped down” from the managerial position, but don’t let clever wording fool you: Mackanin was fired, but the organization has tremendous respect for the baseball lifer, and openly announced that the team would be going in another direction in 2018, which is nothing more than a polite slight of hand to attempt to deceive fans. The matter of fact, however, is that we can all see the card hiding up management sleeve. We’re not a dumb fan base.

Regardless of the terminology used to discuss the dismissal of Mackanin, the end goal remains the same: the Philadelphia Phillies are managerless in October, 2017. Of course, the organization will hire another leader for 2018, but the question remains, just whom it may be.

That fuzzy picture is starting to clear up just a bit this week, as the Phillies are doing the “due diligence” part of managerial interviews. What I mean by that is the team has, and will continue to, interview internal candidates this week, prior to going outside of the organization to find the next skipper. Internal interviews are conducted for every job opening, in every field, and baseball is no exception. While being within the organization may give a candidate a leg up, it guarantees nothing.

According to Todd Zolecki, Phillies’ beat writer for, the team has three interviews scheduled in-house this week, and have conducted two of them already. On Tuesday, third base coach Juan Samuel had a chance to give his peace. Samuel has been with the Phillies since 2011 after serving as interim manager for the Baltimore Orioles the year before. The next day, the Phillies sat down with the Special Assistant to Matt Klentak Jorge Velandia. Valandia had been on a Major League roster as a player as late as 2008, and has been with the Phillies since 2015. Finally, this weekend, the club will give it’s minor league chief, Dusty Wathan, a chance to interview. Wathan has headed the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs this season after spending 2012-2016 as the manager of the Reading Fightin Phils. Wathan is the winningest manager in Reading history, and won Eastern League Manager of the Year in Reading in 2016.

So three names have emerged as candidates internally for the Phillies managerial position, but do any of them actually have a shot at landing the role? The short answer is yes, at least for two of them.

I don’t think Valandia is ready just yet. Valandia had served as general manager of the La Guaira club in the Venezuelan winter league for six years. He also is just 42-years-old and could connect with the young core of players better than an older manager could. His biggest knock is that he has yet to manage a team at any level, let alone the Major Leagues. It would be difficult for Valandia to jump into such a consuming role.

The other two, however, have very realistic chances of landing the job. Wathan is highly touted within the Phillies organization, as evident by his success at every level he’s managed. He’s managed a majority of the players either on the roster or making their way to the big leagues and would have an instant chemistry with much of the 25-man roster. Wathan is just two years older than Valandia, as well. With age being a check mark on the positive side of the managerial search, the two effectively become a wash with each other. Wathan’s managerial history could push him over the edge.

Samuel, while older than the others, is the only one with MLB managerial experience. As mentioned earlier, Samuel served as the interim manager for the Baltimore Orioles for half a season after Dave Trembley was let go on June 4, 2010. Samuel didn’t exactly have much talent around him, as the team finished 66-96. He went 17-34 from June 4 until August 3, when the club announced that Buck Showalter would become the permanent manager, effective immediately. The Orioles were significantly improved in the final two months under Showalter, who managed them to a 34-23 record. After another lackluster season in 2011, winning just 69 games, the Orioles took a massive jump in 2012, making the playoffs after winning 93 games.

While the search is in its infancy, and there will be plenty of external candidates to choose from over the next few weeks, including the newly fired John Farrell, as well as the aforementioned Buck Showalter, these three appear to be the only men internally linked to be getting a shot at the managerial position.


Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports