Phillies

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

usa-mickey-morandini-phillies.jpg
USA Today Images

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."

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

ap-gabe-kapler.jpg
AP Images

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

Gabe Kapler on Friday added to his coaching staff by naming Jim Gott the Phillies' bullpen coach.

Gott was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Angels the last five seasons and the pitching coach for the Arizona League Angels the three years prior to that role.

He played for the Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers over 14 major-league seasons as a starter and reliever. Gott, now 58 years old, compiled a 3.87 ERA while making 96 starts and converting 91 saves.

Kapler and the Phillies still need to name a pitching coach and first-base coach. Last week, they named Dusty Wathan third-base coach and hired John Mallee as hitting coach, while retaining Rick Kranitz, who was the assistant pitching coach last season (see story). He could fill the main pitching coach vacancy, although his role is currently to be determined.

In 2017, Bob McClure served the Phillies as pitching coach and Mickey Morandini was first-base coach.

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

stanton_altuve.jpg
USA Today Images

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.