Wathan could still find way onto Phillies' staff

Team has many coaching holes to fill, with Kapler seeking balance

October 31st, 2017
Dusty Wathan was one of three finalists to be the Phillies' manager, and still has a chance to land with the parent club in 2018. (MiLB.com)

PHILADELPHIA -- Dusty Wathan came this close to becoming the next Phillies manager.

So what's next for him?

Wathan, 44, will be with the Phillies next season. He is under contract, meaning at the very least he will return as the Triple-A Lehigh Valley manager. The Phillies obviously like him, otherwise he would not have been one of three finalists for their managerial job. He could receive a contract extension at some point. There is a better-than-average chance he winds up on Gabe Kapler's coaching staff, although it is not a lock.

The suggestion that Kapler and Wathan could not co-exist because of hurt feelings or awkwardness seems far-fetched. Wathan is a good man and most certainly could work with Kapler. Remember, Wathan wants to be a big league manager someday. It will be easier to get interviews if he has "Phillies coach" in front of his name than "Triple-A manager."

It is the way it is.

Kapler, who was named the Phillies' manager on Monday, and general manager Matt Klentak will be busy in the coming weeks trying to put together a coaching staff, whether or not Wathan is on it. Currently, they have no coaches. They already lost two. Former bench coach Larry Bowa joined the front office as an advisor. Matt Stairs took a job as San Diego's hitting coach.

Pitching coach Bob McClure, first base coach Mickey Morandini, third base coach Juan Samuel, bullpen coach John McLaren and assistant pitching coach Rick Kranitz don't have jobs. Some could return, but not all of them.

The fact Kapler has managed only one season, and in the Minor Leagues, makes people assume he will have a veteran-heavy coaching staff. But it is more likely the Phillies find a balance between experienced coaches that can help Kapler get his footing, and coaches in the same realm as Kapler and Wathan.

Pitching coach will be a critical hire because the Phillies need to develop their young pitchers, particularly in the rotation. Assuming the Phillies do not bring back McClure, Kranitz could get a shot. Phillies' Minor League pitching coordinator Rafael Chaves and Triple-A pitching coach Dave Lundquist are internal candidates. The Yankees also recently let go of pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

Unlikely but interesting names are Curt Schilling and Rich Dubee. Schilling told 97.5 The Fanatic this week that he texted Kapler about being his pitching coach. Dubee was former manager Charlie Manuel's pitching coach. He could run the pitching program, and certainly he could draw upon his experiences with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and others to help the team's pitchers.

Kapler also could look to the Dodgers' farm system to fill out his coaching staff. Triple-A Oklahoma City's hitting coach is Shawn Wooten, who played 33 games for the Phillies in 2004. Wooten notably reconfigured 's swing at the end of Spring Training. Bellinger is expected to be the National League Rookie of the Year. Dodgers shortstop also sings Wooten's praises. He talks with him throughout the season.

"He's gifted at looking at video and noticing a centimeter if your foot is tilting this way or that way," Bellinger told MLB.com during the National League Division Series. "That can make a world of difference in your swing. He'll put the videos side by side, and it's just an easier way to learn for the younger generation. He's really good at that. He's very good at explaining what it is, what it's causing and how to fix it."