j.p. crawford

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.

Phillies mailbag delivers answers about Ruben Amaro and potential trades

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Phillies mailbag delivers answers about Ruben Amaro and potential trades

For the sixth straight year, October is a quiet month for the Phillies. Yes, they made news by dismissing Pete Mackanin as manager, but the bright lights and excitement of playoff baseball still feel distant.

It will be interesting this fall and winter to monitor the Phillies' managerial interview process and then to see how much money they spend. Team president Andy MacPhail certainly seemed content to lower expectations when he spoke last week.

As we await the exciting period of the offseason, let's take a look at some of the more pressing questions.

Before getting to your individual questions, I'll answer the few dozen tweets and e-mails I received about Ruben Amaro Jr. possibly being the Phillies' next manager with an absolute, unequivocal IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.

Think about this logically ... this is the same front office that replaced Amaro. GM Matt Klentak and owner John Middleton want the Phillies to be a more analytical organization. Amaro, in his tenure as GM, did not come close to fitting that description. 

There's also the perception of it, which the Phillies will not ignore. They know what it would look like to the fanbase if they brought Amaro back as manager. It would feel like more of the same, and it would alienate the fans who are just starting to come back and get excited by all of the Phillies' young players.

Amaro does seem likely to get a managerial job someday but not here, not now. If anything, the reason you might be seeing his name pop in rumors is because the Phillies want to do him a solid and help get his name out there for future managerial openings.

The Phillies need to add two starting pitchers this offseason and probably three. They just don't have enough consistency at that spot in the organization. We hear the word "depth" a lot with the Phillies, but depth doesn't mean the Phils are in good shape. 

Yes, you could start Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, Zach Eflin ... but are you ever going to begin that game feeling confident in your starting pitcher? There are health concerns with Velasquez and Eflin, repertoire concerns with Lively and Thompson, control concerns with Pivetta, and Eickhoff took a big step back in 2017.

Alex Cobb is out there in free agency. So is Lance Lynn. So are Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, who will make substantially more.

Darvish and Arrieta will probably make too much money and the Phillies don't want to pay big for past performance. So let's cross them off.

With Cobb and Lynn, the Phillies would be wise to closely monitor the market. At this point in the fall, nobody ever predicts that a starter will linger in free agency until he has to sign a one-year, prove-it deal, and yet it happens every offseason. I'm not saying these two will have to do that, but it's a possibility if their market doesn't materialize.

I fail to see the harm in signing someone like Cobb to a three-year, $48 million deal with a fourth-year vesting or mutual option. Yes, he's had Tommy John surgery, but there are risks with literally any pitcher a team ever signs or acquires.

But also keep an eye on the trade market. The Phillies sound much more likely to trade for a starting pitcher than sign one. Names to keep in mind: Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman, Gerrit Cole, Jake Odorizzi. 

I found the phrasing of this question pretty funny. Patience certainly seems harder for older fans than younger ones. My answer is I simply did not understand MacPhail's lowering of payroll expectations for 2018. The Phillies have a bunch of exciting young players, but if they brought back this very same team next season they'd probably win about 75 games. Is that going to entice anyone in that juicy 2019 free-agent class?

You need to move the needle more next year. Why wouldn't you? The Phillies went 35-35 in their final 70 games and could push closer to .500 with a little more help next season.

I can't see it, but I think Tommy Joseph has a better chance to be on the 2018 roster than Freddy Galvis or Cesar Hernandez. Why? Because Hernandez and Galvis will have much more trade value. Joseph at this point is basically a platoon DH, meaning only a small group of teams will have interest and a fit for him. 

If the Phillies' only option is getting a negligible return for Joseph, then why not just keep him and use him as a right-handed bench bat? He's inexpensive and could at least offer some pop off the bench.

That's a tough one. I'd keep both. But if I had to keep only one, it would be Kingery because I think he has a higher offensive ceiling, and because Crawford's reputation should result in a bigger trade return. Though, again, I don't advocate trading either player. Kingery and Crawford should be the Phillies' middle infielders for the next seven seasons.

The Twins had a season nobody would have expected. And I highly doubt they make the playoffs next season. This just seemed like a fluky, nobody-believes-in-us season that you see once every few years. 

The Brewers are closer to the Phillies. Jimmy Nelson is essentially their Aaron Nola. He had a breakout year before an unfortunate late-season shoulder injury while diving back to first base on a pickoff attempt.

Milwaukee also has a lights-out closer (Corey Knebel), and received unexpected production from Travis Shaw (31 HR, 101 RBIs) in the middle of the order. The Brewers are another team that I think regresses next year, especially since Nelson is expected to miss much of the season.

The Yankees are in a different spot. They held on to Aaron Judge, who was a better prospect than anyone the Phillies had. Gary Sanchez turned out better than expected. Brian Cashman swung some amazing trades, particularly with Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. They're just in a different situation because they had more talent in the organization during this period than the Phillies did.

He meant stats. I'll say Hoskins next season hits .275/.380/.560 with 36 homers and 110 RBIs.

There is benefit to keeping one, especially if you believe in one of them more than you believe in Maikel Franco. Let's start with Hernandez. He's been incredibly consistent the last two seasons, hitting .294 both years with OBPs of .371 and .373. He'll have trade value, but there's also value in knowing what you have. With Hernandez, the Phillies know what they have: A high-OBP leadoff hitter who unfortunately doesn't steal enough bases.

I personally think Hernandez will be a better player the next five years than Franco. So there's a reason to keep him around. Maybe it makes the most sense to keep Hernandez at second base and put Kingery at third. It really all depends on what kind of trade offers the Phillies get for Hernandez.

Tonight's lineup: J.P. Crawford bats second in penultimate game

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Tonight's lineup: J.P. Crawford bats second in penultimate game

Pete Mackanin won't be writing the lineup in 2018, but many of the same names who have flashed potential in the second half of the season should be in there on opening day.

One of those players is J.P. Crawford, regardless of what position he plays. On Saturday night, Crawford plays shortstop. He also hits second for the second time as a major leaguer. Crawford has struggled recently at the plate and sat Friday. He has only one hit in his last 17 at-bats. 

Maikel Franco, tied with Tommy Joseph for the team lead in homers at 22 after his two-run blast Friday, looks to finish a solid month of September strong. Franco is hitting .280 with four homers and 10 RBIs in September.

Henderson Alvarez starts for the Phillies. In his last start, Alvarez pitched five shutout innings, though the Phillies' bullpen couldn't hold a lead against the Braves. 

Seth Lugo starts for the Mets. His one start this year against the Phillies was way back on Aug. 11, when Rhys Hoskins was still searching for his first major league hit. He threw 5 1/3 innings in that outing, allowing eight hits, four walks and five earned runs.

The Phillies' lineup can be found below:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. J.P. Crawford, SS
3. Aaron Altherr, LF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Nick Williams, RF
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Maikel Franco, 3B
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Henderson Alvarez, SP