Mackanin named Phillies' manager for 2016
Interim label removed; contract includes club option for '17
MIAMI -- The Phillies believe Pete Mackanin is the right guy to manage the Phillies in 2016.
Before they find Ruben Amaro Jr.'s replacement as general manager, the Phillies announced that they extended Mackanin's contract through next season with a club option for 2017 before Tuesday's 6-2 win over the Marlins.
"Pete, in my view, had a significant leg up in that I've seen the energy level move up since he's been [in the position]," said incoming Phillies president Andy MacPhail, who also interviewed Phillies first base coach Juan Samuel for the job. "I think it's our job as the front office to be pretty realistic about what it is that we have and we don't have. It's our job to try to make sure we're aware of the whole circumstance and evaluate those things that are truly important going forward.
"You always want to be competitive, but at the same time this franchise finds itself in a position where a lot of young players are going to get opportunities. We need to nurture them in such a way where they grow to be as good as they possibly can be. And we have to make sure we have the right people around them to achieve that goal."
Mackanin, 64, had been the Phillies' interim manager since June 26, when Ryne Sandberg stepped down. The Phillies are 30-46 since, but 27-32 since the All-Star break. Players have said there is more energy in the clubhouse and better communication among them and the coaching staff with Mackanin in charge.
"He's able to speak our language," Phillies closer Ken Giles said. "He knows how to speak to us."
"I think it would be hard to find a guy that wasn't happy for Pete getting this opportunity," Phillies outfielder Jeff Francoeur said.
Mackanin is happy, too.
"At some point I had given up the thought that one day I'd be doing this," said Mackanin, who previously had been an interim manager with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. "Now I've got an opportunity. I'm just going to do the best I can, manage the way I know how to manage. That's the only thing I can do, do things the way I know how to do them. And let the chips fall where they may."
Interestingly, Mackanin essentially will enter his first Spring Training as a full-time manager auditioning for the next GM.
"When we talked about it, it made a lot of sense," Mackanin said about his conversations with MacPhail. "Andy said look, I think it's only fair to whoever that new guy might be to have some say who his manager would be. I get it. You can't just sign me to a three-year contract and then hire a general manager who is stuck with me if he doesn't want me. And hopefully the guy will like me and want to extend me."
MacPhail hinted a couple of weeks ago that he planned to hire Mackanin before he hired Amaro's replacement. He said he didn't want his new GM wasting the first half of a critical offseason searching for a manager. MacPhail essentially interviewed Mackanin on Saturday in Atlanta and told him then that he wanted to make a decision before the end of the road trip.
MacPhail called Mackanin on Monday and invited him to breakfast Tuesday morning.
"I thought, 'Well, OK, maybe tomorrow is the day,'" Mackanin said. "And as it turns out, it was."
MacPhail offered Mackanin a contract over breakfast.
Of course, now that Mackanin is the man, will he change his style? An interim manager can do only so much, after all. A manager carries a bigger hammer.
"I've thought about that, and I know that I can't change," Mackanin said. "I can be a little more demanding in what I want done. In the way of instituting some things that perhaps I want to really zoom in on and pay more attention to and maybe demand a different style of play. But as far as my demeanor is concerned, I know I can't change. I've seen coaches become managers and change their whole personality, and I know one of my biggest assets is my personality. I think I get the attention of players because of it. So that being one of my assets, I better not change."
Mackanin said he will have input on his coaching staff. It is expected some of the staff will return, although how much remains to be seen. He also said he expects a certain level of autonomy from the front office when it comes to making out the lineup and in-game decisions.
"The GM provides the players with input from the manager. The manager runs the game with input from the GM," Mackanin said. "You can't overdo one or the other. That being the case, I know for a fact they're not going to throw a lineup on my desk and make me use that lineup. "
Mackanin is excited for the opportunity. He has waited a long time for this.
"I'm looking forward to instituting my way of doing things starting from Spring Training on to set the tone," he said. "That's what I'm looking forward to."