Sources: Jorge Velandia emerges as strong candidate for Phillies manager job

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Sources: Jorge Velandia emerges as strong candidate for Phillies manager job

Phillies front-office executive Jorge Velandia has emerged as a strong candidate for the team's vacant manager's job.

Velandia had a lengthy interview with general manager Matt Klentak on Wednesday, according to sources. He is the second known candidate to interview for the job, joining Juan Samuel, a member of the team's coaching staff since 2013.

Velandia, 42, has spent the past eight seasons in a variety of player-development, player-personnel, coaching and advisory roles in the Phillies organization. He spent time on the big-league coaching staff in 2015. He rose to the position of special assistant to Klentak a year ago.

A former utility infielder who played in the majors with the Padres, Athletics, Mets, Rays, Blue Jays and Indians, Velandia is a native of Venezuela, where he has served as general manager of the La Guaira club in the Venezuelan winter league for six years. That is the same club that produced talented but enigmatic centerfielder Odubel Herrera, the only Phillie on a long-term contract.

The Phillies manager's job opened when Klentak reassigned Pete Mackanin, 66, to the front office last month. At the time, Klentak indicated that he was seeking a young perspective and a new style in the skipper's office. Klentak, 37, is one of a growing number of young, analytically driven general managers in the game, and he appears to want a field manager of his generation that both he and a young roster can grow with as the team moves closer to contending.

Velandia is going to get a long, serious look for this job. Klentak has a very small band of advisers in the organization and while Velandia might not be on the first ring, he's firmly on the second ring. The two have bonded in Klentak's first two years on the job and Velandia has shown a willingness to learn and embrace the analytic side of the game that Phillies ownership has demanded and the front office has built. Velandia has relationships with members of the Phillies' analytics team. His chemistry with Klentak, others in the front office and the analytics team should not be underestimated because game-day strategy is no longer limited to what happens in the dugout during nine innings. Managers are now seen as extensions of the front office, the final button-pusher in a daily team effort that extends to the executive level.

Klentak has promised a thorough search for his manager. In addition to Samuel, Triple A manager Dusty Wathan is a candidate. Samuel also interviewed for the position when Mackanin was hired in September 2015.

While there is no firm timetable for the hiring of a manager, club officials have said they'd like to have someone in place by the start of the general managers meetings during the second week of November. Those meetings generally signal the start of the offseason transaction season.

Fan favorite Mickey Morandini hopes for a place on new Phillies manager's staff

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Fan favorite Mickey Morandini hopes for a place on new Phillies manager's staff

Mickey Morandini etched his name into Phillies lore 25 years ago when he turned the first unassisted triple play in team history in a game against the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.

The anniversary of the event arrived during a Phillies homestand two weeks ago. Video of the play appeared on Phanavision between innings of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Morandini, the Phillies' first base coach the last two seasons, watched the video from the top step of the dugout, then was a little overwhelmed when the crowd gave him a loud ovation. Morandini has always been a fan favorite. He waved in appreciation to the crowd as he made his way to the first base coaching box.

"These fans have always been great to me," the 51-year-old former second baseman said before Sunday's season finale. "That's why I love it here. The organization has been great to me. I have great relationships here."

Morandini completed his 19th year in a Phillies uniform Sunday and now heads into a period of uncertainty. The team announced on Friday that Pete Mackanin would not return as manager in 2018. General manager Matt Klentak told members of the coaching staff that they were "free agents." They can go strike a deal with another club or wait and see if the new manager would like to interview them for a spot on the new staff.

The organization would like to retain Larry Bowa, most recently bench coach, in a yet to be specified role, according to a source. He is expected to speak with team leaders in the near future.

Klentak has already begun his managerial search and the early list of hot names includes his fellow Dartmouth alum Brad Ausmus, who was recently let go by the Detroit Tigers, and two current big-league bench coaches, Tim Bogar of the Seattle Mariners and Gary DiSarcina of the Boston Red Sox. Both spent some time working in the Los Angeles Angels organization when Klentak was an assistant GM there.

Surely, Klentak's list of candidates is long.

Morandini hopes to work for the new manager.

"My number one choice would be to be on the big-league staff," he said. "I still want to coach. But I'd be open to other options. I'm only 51. I still have a lot to offer."

During his 19 years in a Phillies uniform, Morandini has been a player, a minor-league manager and coach and a big-league coach. During his time as part of the minor-league staff, he worked with many of the players that are now beginning to bloom in Philadelphia.

"I've been with a lot of these guys since 2011," he said. "I feel part of the rebuild. I love it here. I love the organization. I want to see the rebuild through.

"From the first half to the second half of this season, we improved a lot. Obviously, good things are happening. And we've done it with only one pitcher from our opening day rotation. The bullpen stepped up. Some of the young guys came up and played well.

"It's going to be exciting. It's not a finished product, but it's getting there."

Morandini played through pain in 2017. He has an arthritic left hip — "bone on bone," he said — but still managed to throw batting practice. He'll be pain-free next season. He is scheduled to have the hip replaced on October 17.

"Once I get my new hip I'll be sprinting again," he said with a laugh. "I can't wait to be able to run and work out again."

With J.P. Crawford ready, Freddy Galvis' Phillies tenure appears to be over

With J.P. Crawford ready, Freddy Galvis' Phillies tenure appears to be over

It felt like the end for Freddy Galvis on Sunday.
 
Not the end of his career.
 
No. Not at all. This guy has many good years left in the game.
 
But it felt like the end of Galvis' time with the Phillies and that deserves some reflection.

He signed with the club back in 2006, when he was just 16. How long ago was that? Well, the Phillies have spanned three different eras since then. They were in the throes of a 13-season playoff drought when Galvis signed. That was followed by a five-year run in which they were among the best teams in baseball. On Sunday, they completed their sixth straight non-winning season.
 
The Phillies did manage to end the season on a high note — with an 11-0 win over the New York Mets on Pete Mackanin's last day as manager (see story).
 
Galvis, a play-making fixture at shortstop for three seasons and the team's longest-tenured player, did not start the ballgame.
 
Given the leadership he provided to the team — remember how he showed up for work and smacked a home run just hours after the birth of his second daughter in July? — and Gold Glove-caliber defense he played the last couple of seasons, Galvis probably deserved to start the season finale. But the team was committed to getting top prospect J.P. Crawford a half-dozen starts at shortstop so he got the call Sunday. There's little room for sentimentality when you're building a team and the shortstop of the future needs reps.
 
Galvis, 27 and smart, understands what's going on.
 
"It was no big deal," he said. "It's something we had talked about."
 
Galvis had hoped to start all 162 games this season and was on pace to do so until Crawford came up in early September. The team spread Crawford around the infield but wanted to get him six starts at shortstop. So Galvis finished five starts shy of 162 (he made one start in center field) but did play in all 162 games, the first Phillie to do so since Ryan Howard in 2008. 

Mackanin managed to get Galvis into the five games he did not start. He had a pinch-hit double in the sixth inning Sunday and received a nice ovation from the crowd, which seemed to know it might have just witnessed his last at-bat with the club.
 
"He's due all the respect he gets," Mackanin said.
 
Galvis was pleased that he could get in all 162 games.
 
"I think it’s pretty cool," he said. "I think just to be able to play 162 games and try to help the team is awesome. I feel proud for myself."
 
The Phillies have major-league ready middle infield depth in Crawford, 22, and Scott Kingery, 23. That is likely to result in general manager Matt Klentak's shopping Galvis and second baseman Cesar Hernandez for pitching this winter. Crawford could be the opening day shortstop. The Phillies could delay Kingery's arrival for a few weeks as they look to buy an extra year of control on him before free agency.

His time as manager up, Mackanin now becomes a front-office adviser. Any insights as to what might happen, Pete?

"It's a tough decision," Mackanin said. "But I know for a fact that the people upstairs, Matt and Andy (MacPhail, the club president), all of them, they really love Freddy. They realize what a good player he is, and they also acknowledge the fact that J.P. Crawford — this guy can play, so it's a tough decision. It will be up to them. Whatever they decide is fine with me."
 
Deep down inside, Galvis can't be happy about being pushed to the side. But he's been a pro about it.
 
"It's kind of weird," he said. "But I just have to be ready for whatever happens. I'm still a Phillie right now."
 
Galvis was a magician with the glove as a teenager and throughout his time in the minors. He raised his game the last couple of seasons in the majors. He led NL shortstops this season in fielding percentage (.989) and total chances (637).
 
Galvis credits Larry Bowa, a Gold Glove shortstop in his playing days, for fine-tuning his defense the last few years.
 
Like Galvis, Bowa might have spent his final day in a Phillies uniform Sunday. Bowa finished his fourth season as the team's bench coach. He and the rest of the coaching staff are now free agents.
 
After Sunday's game, Galvis and Bowa posed for a picture on the field.
 
It was a poignant moment, one that spoke volumes as the two men head off to an offseason of uncertainty.
 
"He elevated my defensive game to different places," Galvis said. "I always knew I could pick the ball and I can make some outs, but working with Bo, he elevated my game to a different level."