There appears to be little question that there will be major changes in the Philadelphia Phillies‘ coaching staff over the next few days, giving Ryne Sandberg more of a comfort zone in his first full season as Phils’ manager next year.
Rich Dubee was fired hours after the season ended on Sunday, leaving an opening for pitching coach. Rumors are that former Phillies manager Larry Bowa will be added on either as a bench coach or a third-base coach.
That leaves more heads on the chopping block, and the educated guess here is that catching coach Mick Billmeyer is one of them. Billmeyer, the former bench coach, was a “Charlie Manuel” guy, not a Ryne Sandberg guy, and he could be the first to go. Billmeyer was a right-hand man to former Phils’ manager Manuel and the bench coach in the 2012 season before being “promoted” to catching coach.
Manuel did not have a bench coach, relying mostly on Dubee, and maybe that’s one of the reasons why he was fired because he did a lot of bad managing from the seat of his pants this year.
Bowa probably moves into the Billmeyer slot and might get to sit next to Sandberg as the bench coach with Juan Samuel, a friend of both Sandberg and Manuel, continuing as the third-base coach. Bowa has maintained good relations with the team despite his 2004 dismissal as manager. Bowa will probably be added on but not before Billmeyer is given his walking papers.
Then the Phillies can address the job of finding a top-notch pitching coach to replace Dubee, who was widely criticized by a number of ex-Phils’ pitchers. If the Phillies don’t go outside the organization and sign former team icon Jamie Moyer, they can promote highly regarded current bullpen coach Rod Nichols into that slot. Nichols was Sandberg’s pitching coach for two years at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, so the move would make sense.