For the second time in as many years, the Phillies are on the prowl for a new manager. Unlike when first-time skipper Gabe Kapler took over a Phillies team at the tail end of its rebuild in 2017, the next manager will inherit a Phillies team primed for playoff contention.
Be that as it may, the Phillies are far from a perfect product and the next manager will still have his work cut out for him, thus making the hire all the more important. Though Phillies GM Matt Klentak has proven he knows a thing or two about roster construction, he has left much to be desired as far as personnel hirings go. In his second crack at finding an adequate big league manager, here are three mistakes he, and the Phillies, must avoid this offseason:
1. Hiring a first-time manager
I feel like this one kind of goes without saying given how poorly the Kapler tenure went, but given its importance, I’ll include it anyway. Phillies CEO John Middleton and the rest of the front office brass have publicly expressed their desire to return to the postseason, namely the World Series, repeatedly, so it would behoove them to bring on a manager that they know without a shadow of a doubt can establish a winning culture in Philly.
Logically, that would lead them to managerial candidates with a wealth of experience and plenty of wins under their belt. With experienced skippers Joe Maddon, Dusty Baker, Joe Girardi, and Buck Showalter available, there is really no reason for the Phils to entertain any first-time managers.
2. Hiring a Manager that Doesn’t Fit Philly Culture
It’s no secret that Philly is amongst one of the toughest cities to play in. The fans are extremely passionate and aren’t afraid to express their grievances to anyone within the organization, both on and off the field.
With that in mind, it would behoove the Phils to find a manager with thick skin and one that can earn the respect of the Philly faithfuls. This isn’t to suggest that the Phils hire somebody simply to be the fans’ punching bag or that the choice has to be a fan favorite at the time of hire, but they certainly need a fierce leader who can handle the baggage that comes with being a team official in the City of Brotherly Love.
Klentak even alluded to this point in a press conference alongside CEO John Middleton and team president Andy MacPhail following Kapler’s release, stating that “Kap had a hard time gaining acceptance,” in Philadelphia. Klentak publicly making a statement like that leads me to believe that will be a trait he seeks in his next manager.
3. Wait too long trying to find the perfect candidate
While the Phillies certainly shouldn’t rush to fill their managerial vacancy, as it is an enormously important decision to make, they should be cautious not to let excellent candidates find new homes elsewhere in the hope of some perfect candidate emerging from the shadows. Either of Joe Maddon, Dusty Baker, Joe Girardi, or Buck Showalter would make for a fine hire in Philly, but if the front office brass has what they deem a better fit in mind, they should move quickly to ensure they don’t lose out on the cream of the crop in the process of courting that candidate.
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