It seemed completely inevitable that Larry Bowa would be making an exit as the manager of the…
Wade Will Have Long List to Work From
First, the "in-house" candidates:
Charlie Manuel may be the early front-runner, but he's not going to just be handed the job. If that were the case, he'd have been in the dugout for the past couple days and might possibly have taken over the helm earlier in the season. The Phillies are somewhat enamored with Manuel and players who have either played for him or worked with him during his tenure as a Phillies hitting instructor – Jim Thome especially – love and respect the guy.
The popular theory is that Manuel will either be the manager, bench coach or hitting coach. If he's not the manager though, it might be a little weird to have him as a member of the coaching staff, knowing that he was given strong consideration for the manager's job. A strong, battle tested manager might not worry about that, but if the Phillies went with someone a little less tested, Manuel might be seen as simply watching over the guy's shoulder and waiting his turn.
Bob Boone is not going to be the next manager. He's been mentioned in some circles, but forget it. That's not to say that he won't get an interview, but he won't get the job.
Gary Varsho is also well respected by the players and the front office. He's seen as a guy who will make a great major league manager someday. Originally, the plan was for him to sit next to Bowa for a good, long time and then simply take over the club when Bowa exited if he had not been hired for a manager's job elsewhere. It would be somewhat of a travesty if Varsho isn't given solid consideration.
Marc Bombard doesn't have a track record as a major league manager, but he has an excellent minor league track record. He managed most of the Phillies players at one time or another and has a good relationship with them. He's a player's manager, but he also knows how to crack the whip and get players to produce. Like Varsho, it will be a huge mistake if he isn't at least given strong consideration for the job.
Some former Phillies may get consideration.
Darren Daulton might be the clear and present front-runner if not for his run-ins with the law. If he can convince the Phillies that he is past those issues and that he's not going to have a problem in the future, he would be perfect to play some role with the club. The problem is that if he's not past those issues, then he could become a public relations nightmare. It's much more likely that the Phillies might offer Daulton either a coaching position or even a minor league manager's job – the Clearwater job is open – and ask him to prove himself. Of course, Daulton has never said that he would want the job, either.
John Kruk was rumored to have lobbied David Montgomery for the job when the two met a few weeks back. Kruk steadfastly denies the rumor and says he's not looking for a job because he loves his positin with ESPN. Still, it would be interesting to see what he would do if the Phillies had a genuine interest in him. Actually, it's not likely that they do and it's very unlikely that he'll be a serious candidate.
John Russell did an excellent job as a minor league manager. Russell won the minor league Manager of the Year award working in the Twins organization and served as a coach under Pittsburgh's Lloyd McClendon, who was a serious candidate for the Phillies job when they hired Bowa. He would be an interesting choice, but his lack of a major league track record will be a bit of a question mark. Of course, he did manage and help a number of the Twins players when he managed them in the minors, so that should be a point in his favor, since many of those players are getting ready for the playoffs.
There will of course, be some of the usual suspects that show up on the Phillies list.
Mike Hargrove is ready to get back into a dugout. The former Indians and Orioles manager is also well respected among players and would instantly command respect. He's definitely battle tested and has a winning background. It's likely that Hargrove will be doing a number of interviews this off-season and may have a couple opportunities to pick from.
Davey Johnson is ready to return from his self-imposed exile. People who know him say that he is simply waiting to find the right situation. Johnson has a winning track record and got along pretty well with his players. The Phillies may fear that he's a little out of touch with baseball, but he will likely have an eventful off-season as well. Johnson truly will have to be convinced that a situation is perfect for him, rather than simply taking a job simply for the sake of being a major league manager again.
Art Howe might get some consideration. He didn't exactly set the world on fire in his New York tenure, but then again, the Mets did have a lot of injuries (boy, does that sound familiar?). It wasn't that long ago that Howe was one of the most sought after candidates to lead a team and some think that the spotlight of New York was simply too much for him.
Grady Little got along much better with Boston's players than he did with the front office, which is why he's not leading them today. It's interesting that former Phillies' manager Terry Francona, now the Red Sox manager, was criticized for his decision to leave Pedro Martinez in too long against the Yankees a couple weeks ago. It was that same move, albeit in a playoff situation, that Little was ostracized for and likely led to his firing in Boston. Like Francona, Little may be too much of a player's manager and the Phillies may pass. Look for him to get serious consideration though.
Don Baylor is recovered from a scare from cancer and was largely credited with helping the Mets as their hitting coach. Richard Hidalgo especially, credited Baylor with finding flaws in his swing that others had missed. It has to be said; as a minority, Baylor will probably be interviewed for a number of jobs, but don't let that fool you. He is a great choice and is deserving of any and all interviews that he gets. The guy is a pure baseball guy with a track record and a knack for working with players.
Willie Randolph falls into the "minority interview" candidate situation, but like Baylor, deserves better than that. Here's a guy who was a great player and has been a key ingredient on Joe Torre's staff while the Yankees have been winning championships. What else does he have to do to get a chance at managing in the majors? Some reports say that he simply doesn't come across well in interviews. Somebody needs to get past that and hire this guy.
How about a blast from the past?
Jim Fregosi has been mentioned as a possible candidate. After all, he was the last man to lead the Phillies to a World Series and is known for how he handles both veteran and young players. Remember, he was the guy who made Kevin Stocker his everyday shortstop in the middle of a pennant race and it paid dividends. It would be an interesting PR situation for the Phillies, but it's not out of the question. After all, it's been eight years since the Phillies ditched him and Fregosi has often talked glowingly of the Phillies organization. Here's a scenario; Fregosi as manager and Darren Daulton as either the bench coach or hitting instructor. That might be interesting. After all, it wasn't Ed Wade who fired Fregosi, that was Lee Thomas.
There will be a number of names thrown around. Some will be window dressing, there will likely be courtesy interviews and others will be serious names under consideration. Eventually, the list will be shrunk and clear front-runners will emerge. For now though, the field of speculation is wide open.
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