John Farrell

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.

Report: Phillies interview recently fired John Farrell for manager job

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Report: Phillies interview recently fired John Farrell for manager job

The Phillies' search for a new manager appears to be picking up.

The club is still interviewing candidates, including John Farrell as the latest, according to a report Wednesday by MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.

This comes shortly after a separate report surfaced of the Phillies' "zeroing in" on Dusty Wathan, their Triple A manager, to fill the vacancy, per USA TODAY'S Bob Nightengale.

Farrell managed the Red Sox from 2013-17, leading Boston to a World Series title in his first season and back-to-back AL East crowns during his final two. Despite those accomplishments, Farrell was fired two weeks ago. The Red Sox suffered last-place finishes in 2014 and 2015, as well as ALDS exits in 2016 and 2017.

Farrell, 55, who also managed the Blue Jays for two seasons (2011-12), owns a 586-548 career managerial record.

The Phillies have already interviewed internal candidates Jorge Velandia (front-office executive) and Juan Samuel (member of coaching staff since 2013), according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.

Meanwhile, the Phillies have also interviewed Phil Nevin (ex-Giants third-base coach), Gabe Kapler (Dodgers player development director) and Chip Hale (A's third-base coach), according to a report by Zolecki on Tuesday. However, Nevin is out of the running, per Nightengale, as is Hale, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

Phillies officials have said they'd like to have a new manager in place by the start of the general managers meetings during the second week of November.