Phillies’ first offseason task: Coaching staff

Phillies’ first offseason task: Coaching staff

Salisbury one-on-one with Sandberg

September 29, 2013, 5:15 pm
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Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said determining who will be on Ryne Sandberg's coaching staff is "probably the first thing" the Phils need to take care of. (AP)

ATLANTA – Phillies officials have a busy winter ahead of them. They need to upgrade the pitching staff and add some offense to the team that finished near the bottom in the National League in ERA (4.27) and runs per game (3.77).

But the first order of business is determining who will be on manager Ryne Sandberg’s coaching staff.

“I'm talking to Ryne about it,” GM Ruben Amaro said. “I'm talking to my own staff about what's best and how we can best support him. That's probably the first thing we need to take care of.”

Determining a coaching staff is typically a collaborative effort between the manager and the front office. Amaro said the Phillies had “quality people” on the existing staff. Still, some changes are expected.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee’s status has been the subject of much speculation. Dubee was former manager Charlie Manuel’s right-hand man. He has been the team’s pitching coach for nine seasons and his work with J.C. Romero, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge and Cole Hamels was pivotal in the Phillies’ winning the 2008 World Series.

Romero had been released by Boston before coming to Philadelphia and holding down an important spot in the bullpen. Madson credited Dubee’s tough-love mentorship in spring training that season as contributing factor in the his rise to becoming a power-armed eighth-inning man that championship season. Lidge, of course, pitched his way out of the closer role in Houston before coming to Philadelphia and having a perfect season. Hamels always had great talent, but he benefited from Dubee’s nurturing on his way to winning the NLCS and World Series MVP award that October.

Roy Halladay is a staunch Dubee supporter. He credits Dubee with helping him develop a reliable changeup.

But times changes in baseball. Nine years is a long run in one place for anyone. Sandberg may want input in choosing his own pitching coach. That could end up being Dubee or it could be someone else.

Decisions on the existing coaching staff are expected this week. There are expected to be some holdovers. The Phils scored just 610 runs in 2013, their lowest total since 1988, but the work of first-year hitting coaches Steve Henderson and Wally Joyner was well received. Other coaching staff members include catching coach Mick Billmeyer, third base coach Juan Samuel and bullpen coach Rod Nichols.

Even without making any changes, the Phillies already have an opening on their coaching staff – the one created when Sandberg moved from third-base coach to manager.

It’s possible that former Phillies shortstop and manager Larry Bowa could end up on Sandberg’s staff, possibly as bench coach. Bowa mentored Sandberg in the Chicago Cubs’ infield and the two are close. Sandberg is also close to former Cubs teammates Doug Dascenzo and Bob Dernier, both of whom have coaching experience.

After Phillies officials determine the fates of their existing coaching, they will begin interviews with possible newcomers. Sandberg said the process could take some time.

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