Inbox: Who's the favorite for the Phillies job?

October 16th, 2019

Odds-on favorite to get the manager’s job?
-- David W.

Buck Showalter is the presumed frontrunner because of his strong ties to Phillies officials. Club president Andy MacPhail hired him as Baltimore’s manager several years ago. General manager Matt Klentak knows him from his time in Baltimore. Assistant general manager Ned Rice has a strong relationship with him. There is a lot to like with Showalter, who interviewed Monday. He is a winner. He runs a good game. He knows how to manage stars. He brings credibility and accountability to the clubhouse.

But Showalter did not engage or believe in the benefits or truths of analytics while he managed the Orioles. He probably needs to change his tune to get the job in Philadelphia. But even if Showalter spoke glowingly of analytics Monday, how far will he really go once he puts on a Phillies’ uniform? Klentak and Rice, who spearheaded the managerial search two years ago when they hired Gabe Kapler, will have to decide for themselves.

Klentak made a noteworthy comment in Friday’s press conference when he said, “I’d like to find a manager who appreciates a lot of those same things that we appreciate. That doesn’t mean we’re going to align on 100 percent of the things. That’s going to be part of the interview process is figuring out what certain candidates feel about certain things -- a hitting approach or a pitching approach or a staffing approach or just how they run the game. It’s not a cookie cutter position. There’s some nuance to this.” Do not think that a candidate’s willingness to work with the infrastructure in place won’t be on Klentak’s mind.

Rest assured that nobody is asking my opinion, but Joe Girardi seems like the perfect fit here. Like Showalter, Girardi is a winner, he runs a good game, he knows how to manage stars and he brings credibility and accountability to the clubhouse. But Girardi also likes his numbers and will use them to help him win. Those who know Girardi say nobody prepares more than him. He seems like a good mix between old school (i.e. he uses his gut) and new school (he does not believe that infield shifts are the devil).

Girardi interviewed Monday. Dusty Baker is scheduled to interview Wednesday. No other names have surfaced, as Joe Maddon seems like he will join the Angels. Maybe the Phillies are going to make this process short and sweet. It would not be the worst thing in the world. They know they want somebody with experience. Find a guy they like and focus on an important offseason.

Any thoughts on pitchers they would sign?
-- Frederick M.

If you assume Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin are in the rotation from Day 1 in 2020, how are they filling other two slots?
-- Scott L.

Gerrit Cole will be the biggest stud available, but there will be plenty of competition for him. USA TODAY quoted a few of Cole’s teammates and they bet that he will sign with a West Coast team. If that is his preference, then Cole will be out of the Phillies’ reach.

Zack Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner are interesting possibilities. I’m curious to see if the Phillies have any interest in Cole Hamels. He struggled at the end of the season, but he still lives in the area and if the price is right he could provide depth. It also might help to have at least one former Phillie in the clubhouse to provide perspective when things get tough, i.e. “I know we’re upset at the fans, but let’s not call them entitled as we enter the stretch run and need their support.”

What is happening with Odubel Herrera?
-- David M.

Herrera will be eligible to play next season, but I’m not sure how the Phillies handle his situation. It is best to trade him and move on, but there are other considerations here, including the health of Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce and Adam Haseley’s ability to play every day and how the organization feels about Roman Quinn, Nick Williams, etc.