PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he loves the fact that he and bench coach Rob Thomson think differently about baseball. Kapler believes the contrast of opinions will be beneficial during the season.The Phillies announced Thomson's hiring on Tuesday. He joins pitching coach Rick Kranitz, hitting coach John Mallee,
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he loves the fact that he and bench coach Rob Thomson think differently about baseball. Kapler believes the contrast of opinions will be beneficial during the season.
The Phillies announced Thomson's hiring on Tuesday. He joins pitching coach Rick Kranitz, hitting coach John Mallee, third-base coach Dusty Wathan, bullpen coach Jim Gott, assistant pitching coach Chris Young and assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero. The Phillies still need to hire a first-base coach.
"The manager's job is, in my opinion, to stay open, really pause," Kapler said about the relationship between a manager and bench coach. "Listen, I know it happens fast and decisions need to be made, but it's just an extra beat. Does that resonate? And one of the things I'm going to ask Rob to do, and I think he's going to step right up because I know who he is as a human, is to keep coming relentlessly with thoughts, feedback, suggestions. And then what's going to happen is, just lean on that support, lean into it and appreciate it and soak it all up and utilize it."
Thomson, 54, spent the past 10 seasons on the Yankees' coaching staff as bench coach and third-base coach. He spent the past 28 years with the Yankees, working the first 18 seasons in the player development department. He had been a candidate for the Yankees' managerial opening, but Aaron Boone got the job last week.
"He's among the most prepared people that I've ever been around, the most diligent people I've been around," Kapler said. "He has a history of supporting a manager in a way that I don't think is normal, outside the bounds of what you would expect from a support perspective. He was very successful in supporting [former Yankees manager Joe] Girardi and has been around Joe Torre and Girardi, which I think is a very interesting experience and vantage point. He has a really deep understanding of in-game moves, which I think is going to be an extraordinarily important complement. I think he balances out the rest of our staff very well."
Arguably Kapler's two most interesting hires are Guerrero and Young, because they have relatively little to no coaching experience. Guerrero, 28, spent the past two seasons as the bench coach for Rookie-level Ogden (Dodgers affiliate). He played in the Dodgers' farm system from 2006-13. Young, 36, pitched for six Minor League seasons in the Rockies' and Marlins' system. Since then he has scouted for the Padres (2010-14) and Astros (2015-17).
"[Guerrero] is a super, warm connector, which I think was really needed on the hitting side," Kapler said. "Someone that just needs an ear and maybe just a Spanish-speaking ear, Petey checked that box. Not to say that John doesn't, which is a really important distinction to make. Males can do it too, but I think Petey specializes in it. That's his specialty. I've had a ton of hitting coaches as a player. Very few of the ones I loved, do I remember, 'That guy taught me this about my back knee.' No, what I remember is that they had some psychology happening. When I went to the cage, that person was sitting there with the right words at the right time. It may have been just a look. That's what Pedro has. You guys will see. Don't just take my word for it. You will be around him, and he will just brighten your day and make you happy."
Young figures to complement Kranitz's and Gott's skill sets in other ways, likely as somebody that can break down vast amounts of information into digestible bits for the team's pitchers.
"A guy like CY, who is missing some of the in-game reps, Kranny can cover that with his thousands," Kapler said. "But CY, with his experience advance scouting the World Series and being so instrumental in the Houston Astros' success in the World Series by devouring the opposition's tendencies and trying to exploit those tendencies and perhaps weaknesses, that's something we felt he had a unique capability to do, because he hasn't been spending his whole life coaching. He's been spending his time digging into beating the opposition."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.