Philadelphia Phillies Cannot Afford To Get Choice Of Pitching Coach Wrong

By Mike Gibson
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

In the grand scheme of things, waiting for the Philadelphia Phillies to name a pitching coach does not rate up there with a big-ticket free agent signing, but it could be just as important.

With several young arms, both on the big club and in the minors, if the Phillies can catch lightning in a bottle and have most of them reach their potential, an immediate return to contention becomes more realistic.

That’s probably why GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is taking his time and the decision should be made in weeks, not days. Amaro already has interviewed six candidates and appears down to two, an in-house choice and someone from the Pittsburgh Pirates‘ organization.

Amaro cannot go wrong with either pick.

In Jim Benedict, he would get a guy who helped develop the outstanding young pitching staff with the Pirates, including guys like Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett and Mark Melancon. Benedict is now a special assistant to the Pirates.

In Rod Nichols, current bullpen coach for the Phillies, Amaro will probably get the most-respected pitching coach in the entire organization, a guy who several current Phillies credit for giving them the best coaching they’ve ever received.

That would be a departure from what has happened at the big-league level for the last eight seasons. The Phillies let pitching coach Rich Dubee go after the season and few tears among the staff were shed, as Dubee was widely criticized by several ex-Phillies’ pitchers. When the Phillies fired long-time Dubee friend Charlie Manuel as manager in August, the handwriting was on the wall for Dubee as well.

Now, the Phillies appear poised for a significant upgrade from what they had.

Mike Gibson, an Associated Press Sports Editors’ Association and Keystone Press Association award-winner for Best Sports Story and Best Sports Feature, is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @papreps , “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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