Phillies

New bench coach Rob Thomson is Yankees’ loss, Phillies' gain

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New bench coach Rob Thomson is Yankees’ loss, Phillies' gain

CLEARWATER, Fla. – It will probably hit Rob Thomson sometime on Sunday. That’s when the New York Yankees visit Spectrum Field, the Phillies’ spring-training home.

Thomson spent 28 seasons in the Yankees’ famous pinstripes, serving in player-development, front-office and coaching roles.

Most recently, he was the bench coach for former Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Thomson was one of five people interviewed to replace Girardi after last season. Aaron Boone got the job, but Thomson wasn’t a free agent for long. The Phillies quickly scooped up the 54-year-old baseball lifer and installed him as new manager Gabe Kapler’s top lieutenant.

On Sunday, Thomson will look across the diamond and see his past.

But all he’s thinking about is the future.

“I feel like I’m part of the Phillies family already,” he said. “The people have been great. They’ve welcomed me right in.

“I’m here to support Gabe in any way I can. I’ve got his back all the time.”

Phillies management wanted a veteran coaching presence around the 42-year-old Kapler, whose only managing experience came a decade ago in the low minors. New pitching coach Rick Kranitz held that position with three other clubs over 10 seasons. New hitting coach John Mallee previously held that position with the Astros and Cubs.

Thomson worked on Joe Torre’s staff before working under Girardi. He lived through the Yankees’ growth as one of baseball’s analytic giants. He's just what the Phillies and Kapler were looking for.

“I ask everybody everything all the time,” Kapler said. “I contacted no fewer than 20 people about Rob and heard nothing even remotely negative. I weigh that more than a six-hour interview. You might nail the interview, but you can’t fake your career.”

Kapler’s most valuable appraisal came from Girardi, who said Thomson was an incredible teammate.

“In my opinion, that’s the best compliment anyone in baseball can give,” Kapler said.

Thomson is a former catcher. He played on the 1984 Canadian Olympic team and in the Tigers' farm system before joining the Yankees’ player development department.

While working on Torre’s staff, Thomson learned the value of trust.

“Joe Torre was really into relationships and gaining trust with a player and that taught me a lot,” Thomson said. “Before you can really help players, they have to be able to trust you.

“With Joe Girardi, he was a little more analytics-driven so that taught me a lot. We’d always looked at numbers but it taught me to really dive into some of the more critical numbers that are around today.

“In a lot of ways, Gabe reminds me of Joe (Girardi) because of his presence and openness to ideas. Those are great qualities for a leader to have.”

Thomson arrives at work pre-dawn in spring training to plan the day. He is known to arrive at noon for a regular season night game. With data study, scouting reports, video, one-on-one coaching and meetings, the preparation for a single game rivals what happens in the NFL – only it happens every day. When game time arrives, Thomson will be at Kapler’s side, making suggestions and offering ideas (see story). He said he takes nothing personal, so Kapler can wave him off any time.

“But I won’t," Kapler said with a laugh. “I need that.”

Sources: Phillies to interview Buck Showalter on Monday

Sources: Phillies to interview Buck Showalter on Monday

The Phillies are quickly getting into their interview process for a new manager.

According to multiple sources, Buck Showalter will interview for the position on Monday. The meeting between Showalter and Phillies officials will take place in the metropolitan New York area, where Showalter is currently working as an analyst for the YES Network.

It is believed that Phillies officials will also speak with Joe Girardi while they are in the New York area on Monday. Girardi lives in that area.

Veteran skipper Dusty Baker is also on the Phillies' list of candidates, the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday. A source confirmed that and said Baker would interview with the Phillies later this week.

At a news conference on Friday, Phillies officials would not definitively say what they were looking for in their new manager, but it is believed that they would prefer to hire someone with big-league managerial experience and that has made Girardi and Showalter the presumed frontrunners.

Girardi managed the Yankees from 2008 to 2017. His Yankees team beat the Phillies in the 2009 World Series, prompting Phillies owner John Middleton to famously say, "I want my bleeping trophy back."

Showalter has managed the Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. He is a three-time American League manager of the year and has ties to several people in the Phillies front office, including club president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak and assistant general manager Ned Rice. MacPhail led the Orioles baseball operations during part of Showalter's time in Baltimore and Klentak and Rice both worked in the front office. Rice, in fact, worked closely with Showalter during their time in Baltimore.

The Phillies fired Gabe Kapler last week and are one of eight teams with a managerial opening.

At Friday's news conference, MacPhail said Klentak would lead the search for a new Phillies skipper. 

"I don't think there's a relationship more important in a baseball organization than the manager and GM," MacPhail said. "If those two aren't simpatico, you really have issues. I believe it's John's and my goal that Matt go out and start the search. At the end, he's going to have to have the approval of John and I, just like with Gabe. John or I could have vetoed Gabe; we chose not to. But I can't imagine us hiring somebody that Matt is not fully on board with. John and I will have some influence on the guys that fit that criteria who we think might be the best fit, but it's got to emanate from the GM."

Showalter managed the Orioles though 2018 and is eager to manage again. Sources say he is intrigued by the Phillies job and has done homework on the roster.

Girardi interviewed with the Chicago Cubs last week and the New York Mets plan to interview him this week. He will manage somewhere in 2020.

Baker has 22 years of big-league managerial experience and is a three-time NL manager of the year. He last managed the Washington Nationals in 2017 and led that club to 97 wins and the NL East title.



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Source: Phillies set to interview Dusty Baker, one of Bryce Harper's former managers

Source: Phillies set to interview Dusty Baker, one of Bryce Harper's former managers

The Phillies will interview Dusty Baker for their managerial opening later this week, a source confirmed. The news was first reported Sunday by the Chicago Tribune.

Baker, 70, is currently a special advisor to the CEO for the San Francisco Giants.

He has 22 years of managerial experience and is almost universally well-liked. He's a player's manager who is 227 games over .500 in his career. He managed Bryce Harper in 2016 and 2017; the Nationals won 95 and 97 games those years but Baker's contract was not renewed after a pair of NLDS losses. It was a surprising move.

Baker is one of several prominent veteran managers on the market. Joe Girardi, Joe Maddon and Buck Showalter are also prime candidates to claim one of the eight available jobs. Maddon has been linked heavily to the Angels, while Girardi has been linked heavily to the Mets.

The Phillies will interview Showalter Monday in the New York area, according to multiple sources.

At Friday's press conference, Phillies GM Matt Klentak spoke of the organization's desire to have its next manager believe in their core baseball principles. It will likely be a manager who utilizes more of a blend of data and gut-feel. Baker has more than two decades of big-league experience and this would be the most analytically-driven organization he's ever been a part of. The fit is still worth exploring.

It makes sense for the Phillies to cast a wide net in their search. Managing partner John Middleton referenced Craig Counsell on Friday as the kind of high-quality manager whose value can be uncovered during this sort of process.

For more on other potential Phillies managerial candidates, look here.

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