Phillies

Despite losing out to Kapler, Dusty Wathan 'all-in' with Phillies

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Photo: Reading Fightin Phils

Despite losing out to Kapler, Dusty Wathan 'all-in' with Phillies

Dusty Wathan got the news from general manager Matt Klentak on Sunday. He'd lost out to Gabe Kapler in the Phillies' manager derby.
 
Truth be told, there was a moment of disappointment for Wathan, as there should have been for anybody who makes his living in a competitive industry. But not long after, his naturally upbeat personality took over. He has spent the last 10 seasons trying to make the Phillies a better organization. And that's what he'll do in 2018.
 
"I'm a very positive guy," Wathan said Tuesday morning, the day after the Phillies officially announced that Kapler had been hired as the 54th manager in club history, succeeding Pete Mackanin, who had been reassigned to the front office last month. "I feel like this organization is on the cusp of big things. I feel like I've been a part of that and I'm looking forward to continuing to be a part of it.
 
"Matt and I had some good talks. Obviously, he thought Gabe was the right guy and I'm all-in. I want to see these kids do well and I'm going to do everything I can to see them have success. I'm good with this. I respect the decision and hope it works out for our organization."
 
Wathan, 44, has managed in the Phillies' improving minor-league system for the past 10 seasons. He was Eastern League manager of the year at Double A Reading in 2015 and 2016 and earned a promotion to Triple A Lehigh Valley in 2017. He helped in the development of Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford and a host of others who arrived in the majors in 2017 or are on their way, promising players such as second baseman Scott Kingery who the franchise hopes will make up the team's next winning core and, frankly, make Kapler look good.
 
Wathan is under contract to manage back at Lehigh Valley in 2018. He is eager to continue in that role — unless he's asked to be part of Kapler's coaching staff.
 
"They still have a lot of stuff going on with Gabe's announcement and everything, but at some point in the next few weeks we'll be talking," Wathan said. "I'm going to be here in some capacity helping the Phillies next year. Whatever happens, I feel I have the opportunity to be part of something special in the future. There will be some guys in Lehigh Valley next year and below that still need to develop if we want to get to where we want to be as an organization, and I'm excited to be part of that."
 
Wathan was a finalist for the job along with former Boston skipper John Farrell. All of the finalists went through two intense rounds of interviews that concluded Friday. There will be a news conference after the World Series to unveil Kapler; he is director of player development for the Los Angeles Dodgers and they are still playing in the Series.

During the news conference, Klentak will surely be asked what separated Kapler from the rest of the candidates. Kapler is highly literate in analytics and he brings an outside perspective to the organization, two qualities that have been stressed from ownership on down over the last two-plus years.
 
Was Wathan too "inside" for the Phillies?
 
"I don't think so," Wathan said. "Gabe and I have different personalities. The relationship between a general manager and a manager is the most important in an organization and sometimes it's just a personal feel. I know the players a lot, but there's more to it than that."
 
Was he analytically driven enough?
 
"I can only speak for myself," Wathan said. "I enjoy the analytical side of the game. When I broke in, it had just started and we were behind. But we've caught up and I've learned it as we've gone on."
 
A few weeks ago, at the end of the Phillies' season, Wathan received strong endorsements for the position from young players such as Hoskins and Crawford. He believes those players will continue to thrive under Kapler.
 
Wathan still has the goal of managing in the majors someday, just like his dad, former Kansas City Royals catcher John Wathan, did. He speaks to his dad frequently and both believe that being considered so strongly for the Phillies job was a positive.
 
"At the end of the minor-league season I had no idea the job would even be open," Wathan said. "So to go through this experience, to have my name brought up and to have the opportunity to be interviewed, can only help me. Interviews for major-league manager jobs don't come around every day.
 
"I won't lie, Sunday was a little difficult. When you're so close to a goal you've had your whole life ...

"But I've been around this game a long time and I know there's a winner and a loser every day. That's how it is. But still, I don't look at myself as a loser in this. It's gratifying that the organization gave me a look."

Morphine found in Roy Halladay's system before fatal plane crash

Morphine found in Roy Halladay's system before fatal plane crash

Roy Halladay had morphine in his system when the plane he was piloting crashed and he tragically died in November, according to Halladay's autopsy report, released Friday.

Zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien, and amphetamines were also found in Halladay's system.

As TMZ points out via the Food and Drug Administration, the amount of Zolpidem found in Halladay's system (72 ng/ml) is more than enough to impair a driver and increase the risk of an accident.

Halladay had a blood alcohol content of 0.01, according to the autopsy report. 

The official cause of Halladay's death was blunt force trauma, with drowning a contributing factor.

The crash took place on Nov. 7 in the Gulf of Mexico, with more details emerging in a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board two weeks later.

Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

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AP Images/USA Today Images

Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

It's not clear whether the Phillies will add a starting pitcher before opening day, but surely they would like to.

General manager Matt Klentak “is busting his ass every single day looking for every possible opportunity to upgrade our team from every perspective,” manager Gabe Kapler said on Tuesday. “That includes looking at every option possible for the rotation.”

Klentak has kept a close eye on the trade market, but has found the prices (i.e., the young talent that must be surrendered) for top, controllable starters to be prohibitive.

He has kept a close eye on the free-agent market, but the length of contracts that top pitchers are looking for has given him pause.

For months, the Phillies have distanced themselves from speculation that has connected them to elite level free-agent pitchers Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta.

But with spring training less than a month away and both pitchers still unsigned, the Phillies would at least have to consider both pitchers if their asking prices experience a January thaw.

Six or seven years? No way.

Three years? Hmmm. Let's talk.

The Phillies are hosting a number of their young players this week. Rhys Hoskins, Jerad Eickhoff, Mark Leiter and Nick Williams were all in town on Tuesday.

Williams has set his sights on making the National League All-Star team in 2018.

“That's what I'm shooting for,” he said at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday. “I think I had a pretty good year last year. I'm shooting for more now. I don't think being an All-Star is shooting too high.”

Williams, 24, hit .288 with 12 homers, 55 RBIs and an .811 OPS in 83 games, mostly in right field, with the big club as a rookie last season.

To give himself the best chance of surpassing those numbers — and achieving his goal of making the All-Star team — Williams has spent the offseason in Austin, Texas, working with personal trainer Jeremy Hills, a former University of Texas football player.

Williams is working hard on agility, which will help him in the outfield and on the base paths.

And guess who one of his daily workout partners is?

Free-agent pitcher Jake Arrieta.

Back in Austin, between reps and protein shakes, Williams has occasionally talked up Philadelphia as a potential landing spot to Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner who will turn 32 in March.

“He loves it here,” Williams said of Arrieta, who, as a free agent and a Scott Boras client, is astute enough not to rule out any team, particularly one as deep-pocketed as the Phillies. “He has told me he likes working with young guys. I'm like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I'm not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I'm not really in his position.”

Williams smiled.

“I hope to be one day,” he said.

Williams marveled at Arrieta's work ethic in the gym.

And he expressed gratitude for the kindness and generosity Arrieta has showed him.

“He's bought a lot of my protein shakes,” Williams said.

Time will tell if the Phillies add a starting pitcher to the group that already consists of Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and other youngsters. The hunch is they will, though it's unclear what the magnitude of that talent will be. Klentak's search for an arm likely won't stop with the addition of one pitcher and it will likely continue through July. And beyond. The quest to build a championship-caliber staff never stops.

“The pursuit is very real,” Kapler said of Klentak's search for pitching. “I have a lot of trust that we'll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we're better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”