While the players may be the names that everyone knows, there are a lot of
other people in an organization that play important roles. Some are seen and
known, while others are rarely, if ever, in front of the press or even
Our first annual list of the VIPs - Very Important Phillies - is not a list
of greatness or a list of power. It's a list of importance, based on the jobs
that need to be done and the people who are in charge of doing those jobs.
19. Davey Lopes - First Base Coach
One part of the Phillies attack that has been on the mark the past couple of
seasons is their baserunning. In addition to serving as the team's first base
coach, Davey Lopes also serves as their baserunning coach and it's a task that
he's both enjoyed and excelled at in his time with the Phillies. In 2008 alone,
the Phillies finished third in the National League in stolen bases and were
successful on 84% of their attempts, compared to a league-wide average of 73%.
Lopes has preached smart baserunning and has worked with the speedier of the
Phillies to master not just how to steal bases, but when to steal them and,
perhaps more importantly, when not to steal them.
20. Rich Dubee - Pitching Coach
It's all about the pitching and with some young guns working their way closer
to the majors, Rich Dubee will become more and more important. He might have
ranked a little higher, but there is some concern that he was unable to pull
Brett Myers and Adam Eaton out of their slumps. Of course, nobody was able to
right Eaton and Myers was more of a mental issue than anything else, but a good
pitching coach knows how to attack those issues as well. Just ask Leo Mazzone.
Among the pitching coaches in the National League, Dubee ranks somewhere from
the middle up on the list of the best in the league. He gets the job done, but
he's going to have to be even better than he's been with some young arms to
contend with down the road.
21. Pat Gillick - Special Advisor to the GM
Yes, Pat Gillick is still around and yes, he still has some influence. The
fact that David Montgomery was trying to talk Gillick into staying almost until
the moment that Ruben Amaro was introduced as Gillick's successor says
something. The fact that Montgomery then talked him into staying on as an
advisor says even more. If you want to have importance to an organization, have
the ear of the owner, which is exactly what Gillick has working for him. And if
you don't believe that he's still an important part of the organization, ask
Ruben Amaro who recommended new assistant GM Benny Looper.
22. Charley Kerfeld - Special Advisor to the GM
While he wasn't much of a pitcher, Charley Kerfeld has shown himself to be a
very valuable part of the front office. Don't be surprised if in another year or
two, somebody swipes him away to be an assistant GM or possibly, even a GM. He
knows how to evaluate talent and knows what to look for in putting a team
together. Kerfeld has slowly been given more important responsibilities and has
increased his influence among Amaro and others in the front office. It was
actually a little surprising that he wasn't given a full-fledged assistant GM
title, but no matter the title, Kerfeld is going to be a part of key decisions
in the Phillies front office.
23. Sal Rende - Minor League Hitting Coordinator
The Phillies farm system has produced a number of good players over the past
few seasons, but most of the current top prospects are pitchers. Rende is the guy
in charge of overseeing all of the young hitting prospects and in some cases,
working individually with them to improve their approach at the plate. Just how
far some of the younger position players advance will be determined by what Rende
can do with them to get them ready for the higher levels of the minors. Because
the Phillies have placed their draft emphasis on pitching, it's important that
Rende can get the most out of the hitters that the Phillies bring into the
organization for him to work with.
24. The Invisible Owners
Invisible doesn't mean silent, unless you mean publicly silent. There are
very few people who know the faces or even the names of these folks, but they're
there. Almost like a secret government black ops unit that exists, but is never
really confirmed or denied by the government when they're asked about their
existence. It's possible that you have walked right past one of them and not
even known who they were and that's exactly the way these folks want it to be.
Think of them as the voice on the speaker phone in Charlie's Angels, but know
that they're not always as calm and approving as dear old Charlie. Oh, by the
way, their names... Claire S. Betz, Tri-Play Associates (brothers Alexander K.
Buck, J. Mahlon Buck, Jr., and William C. Buck), Double Play, Inc. (John S.
Middleton) and Giles Limited Partnership (Bill Giles and Family). Now that we've
told you, this article will self-destruct in five seconds... maybe.
The Phillies are more than just the players on the field and the manager in the dugout. Part two of our look at the most influential people in Philadelphia baseball continues our countdown of the names you need to know.
All of the movers and shakers who will be shaping the 2009 Phillies.