Phillies appear to entering next phase of managerial search

Phillies near naming a new manager
General manager Matt Klentak won't publicly say it, but he knows his future with the Phillies is dependent on the success of the club's new manager. Knowing that - and being that he's leading the search to find a new skipper - the safe play is to bring in an established baseball mind with a proven track record.

Think of the total opposite of Gabe Kapler, and that's the direction the organization, and Klentak in particular, appear to be leaning.

Sources indicate the club met this week with Dusty Baker, Joe Girardi, and Buck Showalter to discuss a potential fit.  All three will meet again in the coming days with the organization in Philadelphia.

Additional candidates could surely emerge, but for now, we have three frontrunners with a combined seven Manager of the Year titles and plenty of postseason experience.

Late-season success - or in this instance, a lack of - is a major reason why managing partner John Middleton elected to move on from Kapler.

“Ultimately, I felt if I was going to bring Gabe back, I had to be very, very confident we were going to have a different outcome in 2020," Middleton said last week. "Those September collapses, I kept bumping up against them. I couldn’t get comfortable or confident enough that if I brought him back we wouldn’t run into other problems, and therefore I made the decision I did.”

Girardi, who has been out of baseball and working as a broadcaster for the past two seasons, spent 11 years between managing the Florida Marlins and the New York Yankees. He knows analytics and is a different breed than Kapler.

Showalter already has relationships with Klentak and team president Andy MacPhail from their days together in Baltimore. Similar to Girardi, he's dealt with pressure and spotlight during his days with the Orioles, Yankees, and Rangers.

Baker has managed 22 seasons in the bigs and last was in a dugout in 2017 when he was with Bryce Harper down in Washington. He's currently a special advisor within the Giants organization.

Again, all three candidates have extensive resumes and could potentially lead a retooled Phillies club to the postseason in 2020. At this point, however, Klentak is in the hot seat.

“Nobody bats 1.000 in hiring decisions,” Middleton said, pointing to Klentak’s hiring of Kapler two years ago. “I haven't in my career. It's early in (Klentak's) career, but I would also point out he's made lots and lots of really good hiring decisions, too. I think what this should be is a learning experience, candidly. What's happened in other businesses we've run and gotten into this kind of situation, people learn from it. It gives me a chance to express my view about standards and the processes and making tough decisions and people generally learn from that.”

Here's Klentak's chance to show what he's learned.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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