Sunday, October 29, 2017

Kapler to be named Phillies manager as per reports

Multiple reporters, starting with Jon Heyman, posted online Sunday night that the Phillies are close to announcing they'll hire Gabe Kapler as their next manager.

Earlier Sunday, I wrote about how I thought the right choice was Dusty Wathan.  The long-time Phils minor league manager may have been passed over for the skipper role, but perhaps there's still hope for him to join the big league coaching staff.

Kapler is currently employed as the LA Dodgers' director of player development. He was among the final candidates to manage the Dodgers prior to the team hiring Dave Roberts prior to the 2016 season. Kapler played as an outfielder in the big leagues with six team including the 2004 World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

The move possibly won't be announced until after the World Series, which involves the Dodgers, is over.


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The Case For Dusty Wathan as the Next Phillies Manager

Dusty Wathan, image- Jay Floyd
Multiple reports in recent days state that long-time Phillies minor league skipper is in the running among the team's short list of finalists for their vacant managerial position.  With a pedigree in the sport and a history with a majority of the club's talent, Wathan is the right choice for the role.

The son of former Kansas City Royals manager John Wathan, Dusty practically grew up around in a dugout and on the diamond. 

Following his playing career which included time in the majors with the Royals and wrapped up at the Triple-A level for the Phils in 2007, Wathan's managerial got rolling in 2008.  At that time he was named the skipper for the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters. 

The following season, Wathan led Class A Lakewood BlueClaws to their first of back-to-back South Atlantic League titles.

Wathan managed the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers in 2010 and 2011, where a collection of talented minor leaguers like current Phillies standout Cesar Hernandez and more pushed through the Florida State League en route to their own big league careers.

From 2012 to 2016, Wathan managed the Phils' Double-A Reading team.  Wathan would lead that club to the postseason three times and would go down as Reading's all-time leader in managerial wins with 373.

During his 2017 campaign, at the helm of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, that club also went to the playoffs.

In ten seasons of managing in the minors, Wathan tallied a 711-627.  His teams have reached the playoffs five times, including four of the last six years.

The last time the Phillies went on a string of success in the big leagues, a man known to be a players' manager, Charlie Manuel, was the guy in charge.  It's well known that Manuel got a ringing endorsement from a player with a a lot of clout, slugger Jim Thome, who played for a Manuel-led World Series team in Cleveland in years prior.

Wathan is also known as a player's kind of guy.  Big leaguers such as Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, Aaron Nola, Adam Morgan, Hector Neris, J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Aaron Altherr, Jake Thompson, Ben Lively, Maikel Franco, Mark Leiter Jr., Andrew Knapp and Tommy Joseph, who may all factor big-time into the Phillies; next wave of success at the top level, have all played for Wathan in the minors.  

The choice of who will lead the Phils on the field as they head into a new era is critical.  It seems ideal to go with a guy that has a track record with the current core of talent in order to keep their winning culture intact.

I've heard loads of great feedback over the years from many of those players about Wathan, so if the favor of players is going to have any impact on this decision and their upcoming path, as it did for the Manuel era, the call should be an easy one.

Widely considered a prospect in the coaching ranks, Wathan is just as deserving of a promotion to the top level of the sport as the players he has guided toward the spotlight in Philadelphia. 


Additional notes: Wathan's .531 minor league winning percent would average to an 86-win team in a 162-game season.  The National League has featured an 87-win team as its second wild-card entrant in each of the past two seasons.  

The Phils' active roster made an estimated $37 million last season.  The last Phillies playoff team in 2011 made more than $170 million.  

Imagine Wathan with his core group of players he's already enjoyed success with and additional $133 million of talent...

Friday, October 27, 2017

World Series qualifiers show Phils' long road ahead

As the Dodgers and Astros worked their way to the Fall Classic, it became very clear that they were two of the best teams of the last twenty years. These aren’t the 2011 Cardinals or the 2014 Giants – Wild Card teams that got hot at the right time and rode that momentum to a title. These are complete teams set up for long-term success, and much of the league, Phillies included, have a long way to go to catch them.
To put it in perspective, the Astros, who pair a dominant starting rotation led by Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel with a historically good offense that led the league in runs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, are 5/4 underdogs against LA, according to mytopsportsbooks.com. (Click here for odds and essays on the 2017 World Series.) That’s just how good the 104-win Dodgers are.

Heading into 2018, the hope from the Phillies front-office likely isn’t a World Series appearance, or even a playoff berth next year. The team is coming off a 66-win season and last-place finish in the National League East division. They have the financial assets to go after big-name free agents, but this year’s FA group isn’t strong enough to turn a 66-win roster into a pennant-winner. 
Jorge Alfaro, image- Jay Floyd
The focus in 2018 should and will be on developing the promising prospects and up-and-comers in the system; left fielder Rhys Hoskins (18 homers, 1.014 OPS in 50 games) and catcher Jorge Alfaro (.318 BA, .874 OPS in 29 games).  Both looked great in big-league action this year, while 27-year-old second baseman Cesar Hernandez had his best season to date (.294 BA, .794 OPS, 3.4 WAR). 
If guys like Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph can rebound from developmentally stagnant years and take steps in the right direction, the Phils’ offense could take a giant leap forward, which it desperately needs to do. Scoring 690 runs (fourth-worst in the NL) is not going to cut it, even if Aaron Nola and Nick Pivetta turn into a strong one-two punch at the front end of the pitching rotation.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Off-season league updates- Twitter is there for you

It's autumn and while the big league postseason is on-going, without any Phillies involvement, I haven't posted much on the site in a while.

Most readers here likely have grown to expect unique content focused on the Phils' minor leagues.  Here's how you can get updates and details even when this site isn't featuring new posts...

Check out my Twitter feed!

For those of you still without the Twitter application or even without a Twitter account, you can simply bookmark this post or my Twitter page for daily updates and stats from several off-season leagues.  Check out the embedded widget below for a sample of what steady details to expect on talented prospects like Roman Quinn, Daniel Brito, Cornelius Randolph and many more along with an occasional remark about professional wrestling or some other random nonsense.

Thanks for the continued interest in my content and pass it along if you know fans that would appreciate this material.