Philadelphia Phillies' Best Off-season Decisions Came Early

By Sean O'Brien
Philadelphia Phillies Pete Mackanin
Howard Smith – US Presswire

Philadelphia Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin wasn’t responsible for last season’s story. But, when he, hitting coach Greg Gross and first base coach Sam Perlozzo all lost their jobs on the same day that the 2012 season ended, the off-season plan was set.

More than just a few fall and three winter months will be needed for general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. to complete his organizational revamp. What he’s doing should actually be considered a quiet revolution.

By installing Ryne Sandberg as the team’s new third base coach and infield instructor, the Phillies’ heir apparent is in place. All denials to the contrary can be publicly offered. That stance is understandable and reality still is what it is.

The decision to not name a new bench coach to replace Mackanin is very telling. That choice was intentional, as it keeps pressure off Sandberg. Amaro’s decision also doesn’t put the squeeze on Charlie Manuel, who continues to be treated with respect.

Everyone knows that “Chuck” has been seen as a players’ coach. In truth, he’s a good clubhouse leader who’s also been honest about having to learn National League strategy in past years.

My hope is that the Phillies can rebound into the playoffs this fall, which would create renewed faith in the franchise and afford Manuel a fitting path to the future. In that scenario, he could opt to seamlessly shift into an advisory role. Sandberg’s season of in-house training would almost certainly lead to another promotion.

Let’s not forget to mention that Steve Henderson and Wally Joyner have been added to the staff as well. The hitting coaching duo have been tasked with taking control of a lineup (and some bench men) that has collectively strayed from a progressive plate approach on many past occasions, regardless of personnel changes.

A two-headed pitching coach was also created when Rod Nichols accepted a newly created bullpen coach position. His focus on the relief corps will allow Rich Dubee to deal with his five main mound men. Both parts of the staff should benefit from this new alignment.

The Phillies won the 2008 World Series because of the strength of their roster and because of the depth within their coaching staff. The internal moves that were made last October instantly became the best of this off-season because they fundamentally changed the philosophy of Manuel’s leadership team. That’s important and will lead to visible results.

Folllow Sean on Twitter @SeanyOB, Facebook, Google+ and read his blog Insight.

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