Why Phillies invited almost all coaches back despite firing Gabe Kapler

Why Phillies invited almost all coaches back despite firing Gabe Kapler

So Gabe Kapler is out as Phillies manager, but nearly every coach on his staff has been invited back for the 2020 season.

Not very common.

In addition to announcing Kapler's dismissal Thursday morning, the Phillies also announced that bench coach Rob Thomson, first base coach Paco Figueroa, third base coach Dusty Wathan, infield coach Bobby Dickerson, catching coaches Bob Stumpo and Craig Driver, bullpen coach Jim Gott, assistant pitching coach Dave Lundquist and assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero were invited back.

Chris Young will not return as pitching coach, nor will Charlie Manuel as hitting coach. Manuel's emergency stint as hitting coach was always expected to last only seven weeks. He will resume his role as senior advisor to the general manager.

The Phillies' next manager will likely have the decision on those two jobs, pitching coach and hitting coach, the two most important spots below manager on a staff. 

Head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and assistant trainer Chris Mudd did not have their contracts renewed. Sheridan was with the Phillies for 13 years. It's pretty silly to blame him for the team's myriad injuries in 2019, but this regime has slowly phased out members of the one which preceded it.

There's logic behind keeping the guys they kept. Thomson is a well-respected baseball man who spent 10 years on the Yankees' staff before joining the Phillies in 2018. He should get an interview for the managerial job but can continue to provide value in his current role.

Wathan knows many of these Phillies players inside and out from his years managing in the minors.

The Phillies' baserunning improved this season and Figueroa played a role in that.

The Phillies' catching metrics were off the charts this season, largely because of J.T. Realmuto, but Realmuto's pitch-framing in 2019 was better than ever. It was worth keeping that catching tandem in tact.

It had become apparent in recent days that Kapler's job was on the line but not those of GM Matt Klentak or team president Andy MacPhail, who are just as much to blame for the Phillies' current position as Kapler, if not more so.

That, too, was confirmed in Klentak's statement Thursday, which he ended with:

"In the coming weeks, John (Middleton), Andy and I will work diligently with others in our Baseball Operations department to find the right individual to build upon the existing foundation and bring a championship home to Philadelphia," he wrote.

Klentak's seat is even warmer now than it was two weeks ago. If the Phillies disappoint again in 2020, Klentak's fifth season on the job, it's hard to see him surviving again.

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Phillies free-agent target: Cole Hamels

Phillies free-agent target: Cole Hamels

Leading up to baseball's winter meetings, we will take a daily look at some of the game's top free agents and how they could potentially impact the Phillies.

Today, we check in on someone Phillies fans know well, veteran lefty Cole Hamels.

The vitals

It feels funny typing those words — veteran lefty — but that's just what Hamels is now. He turns 36 in December. Hard to believe for those of us who remember the squeaky-voiced teenager who showed up at Veterans Stadium for a news conference after the Phillies selected him 17th overall in the 2002 draft. Six years later, Hamels was MVP of the National League Championship Series and World Series as the Phillies won it all in 2008. 

Hamels was traded to Texas as the Phillies ramped up their rebuild in the summer of 2015 and now he's a free agent who still has something to offer. One-hundred fourteen of his 163 wins have come in a Phillies uniform. Will he come full circle and win a few more for the Phillies now that the rebuild is over?

Why he fits

Hamels is no longer the top-of-the-rotation pitcher he was during his prime in Philadelphia, but the Phillies need pitching up and down their rotation and he would make a lot of sense as a stabilizer at the back half of it. He had a 3.81 ERA for the Cubs in 27 starts last season but missed a month with an oblique injury suffered in late June. Hamels was quite good before the injury, recording a 2.98 ERA in 17 starts. He struggled and pitched to a 5.79 ERA in 10 starts after returning from the IL.

With an offseason to heal, Hamels will be healthy as he joins some team this winter and he should be able to deliver 150-160 innings. He did not receive a qualifying offer from the Cubs so he would not cost a draft pick.

Once upon a time, Hamels grew up as a young pitcher in Philadelphia under the tutelage of Roy Halladay. Hamels is a serious student of the craft of pitching. It would be poetic if he returned to Philadelphia and served as a mentor to some of the Phillies' young arms, and fans would certainly welcome his return as part of a pitching staff upgrade.

Why he doesn't fit

The only way we see a reunion not being a fit is if the market for Hamels gets extremely competitive and his price becomes more than the Phillies want to commit to a 36-year-old pitcher. The Phils will need a starting pitching upgrade beyond Hamels, but he'd be a solid second wintertime addition.

The price tag

As far back as May, Hamels talked about his desire to finish his career in Philadelphia. He recently told that he'd be open to a one-year contract. That's not exactly strategy out of the Negotiating 101 handbook and it hasn't stopped agent John Boggs from seeking a multi-year deal. Hamels made $20 million with Cubs last season. It's difficult to see him getting that much, but not difficult to see him getting something in the neighborhood of $17 million per season.

Scout's take

"He's no longer that middle-to-top-of-the-rotation guy, but a one-year deal should probably entice every team in the game. He really knows how to pitch. You look at the No. 4 guys in the league. If he's healthy, I'd have solid confidence in him in that role."

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More on the Phillies

At the Yard podcast: Early free-agent signings and disappointing prospects


At the Yard podcast: Early free-agent signings and disappointing prospects

How will Yasmani Grandal's contract affect J.T. Realmuto's? Why did Tuesday's roster moves represent such massive disappointment? Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman discuss on the latest At the Yard podcast.

• Grandal vs. Realmuto

• Phils have a new hitting coach

• Reassessing the third base market

• Will Rendon beat Arenado's number?

• Phillies left 2 massive busts unprotected in Rule 5 draft ... and you might not want to hear the names of who they passed on

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