Phillies

Sources: Phillies down to 2 finalists for manager

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Sources: Phillies down to 2 finalists for manager

The Phillies' manager search is rounding the homestretch and a new skipper could be named as soon as early next week, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
 
Team officials began the final round of interviews on Thursday. In-house candidate Dusty Wathan and outsider Gabe Kapler have emerged as finalists while former Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell is getting a late look, according to sources.
 
Major League Baseball frowns on clubs making significant announcements during the World Series, but there is a scheduled off-day in the event on Monday so an announcement could come on that day if club officials wrap up their search. Otherwise, an announcement would have to wait until later in the week.
 
The finalists all have differing resumes. A source confirmed an MLB.com report that Farrell had entered the mix and was slated to speak with club officials. Farrell appeared to be a bit of a long shot, but the 55-year-old New Jersey native and former major-league pitcher and pitching coach has something the rest of the field does not have: He has managed in the majors with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Red Sox. He spent the last five seasons managing in Boston, where his teams won three American League East titles and a World Series in 2013.
 
Kapler, 42, played 12 seasons in the majors and managed in Boston's minor-league system before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers' front office in 2014. He has served as that club's director of player development and has a commitment to analytics and nutrition, two areas of importance to a Phillies front office trying to build behind-the-scenes competitive advantages. Kapler was considered for the Dodgers' manager job two years ago. The position went to Dave Roberts, who now has that team in the World Series.
 
Over the last couple of years, the Phillies organization, from ownership on down, has shown a desire to bring in outside perspectives. That could work in Kapler's favor. But if the team can get past that, Wathan could be the man. He has tremendous credentials as a manager in the Phillies' minor-league system and already has the trust of a number of key players who are projected to be part of the team's core in 2018. On the final weekend of the 2017 season, after Pete Mackanin had been reassigned to a front-office position, several players, including projected stalwarts Rhys Hoskins and J.P. Crawford, enthusiastically endorsed Wathan for the post.
 
Wathan, 44, is the son of John Wathan, a former major-league catcher and manager of the Kansas City Royals. The younger Wathan, also a catcher, spent the bulk of his playing career in the minors and appeared briefly in the majors with the Royals in 2002. He finished his playing career with the Phillies' Triple A club and has managed in the system for the past 10 seasons. Wathan was the Eastern League's manager of the year at Double A Reading in 2015 and 2016. He moved to Triple A Lehigh Valley in 2017 and helped send a host of players to the majors during the season, including Hoskins, Crawford and Nick Williams.
 
Williams, an outfielder, hit .288 with 12 homers and 55 RBIs in 83 games with the big club in 2017. He had struggled at Triple A during the second half of 2016 and was benched a couple of times for lack of hustle. Getting the enigmatic Williams on track was an organizational goal in 2017 and Wathan played a huge role in doing that as the two built a connection early in the season.
 
Wathan's knowledge of the Phillies' young players goes beyond Hoskins, Crawford and Williams. He talked extensively about players in the system and his personal managerial style in this March interview. Wathan also talked about watching his dad's Royals lose to the Phillies in the 1980 World Series. The Royals, as Wathan explained, rebounded and beat the Phillies on Family Feud later that offseason. The evidence can be seen on YouTube.

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

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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

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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.