Phillies willing to narrow candidates down to ex-Royals players and coaches, for some reason
I think when the 2012 Phillies season ended, we all nodded in agreement to what the main problem was: the coaching staff. So many times a key player would get injured and a bar full of Philadelphians would scream “DAMN IT GREG GROSS,” simultaneously. Or the offense would sputter and die, and we’d think “GRRRRR THAT AWFUL SAM PERLOZZO.” And what about when the bullpen would implode, and send us all into our beers. “BRING ME PETE MACKANIN’S HEAD,” was basically the city of Philadelphia’s motto this summer.
Which is why it is such a relief to see unofficial-but-let’s-all-say-it-anyway-heir-apparent-Phillies-manager Ryne Sandberg receive his promotion from managing Triple-A Lehigh Valley to the big club coaching staff. Not just because it helps us live out those 1982 fantasies we go to a lot, but also because it freshens things up before any team player changes start.
Sadly, as Sandberg fills a new role, he leaves behind his old one with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Who is left to replace him?
From 1989-91, the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate Omaha Storm Chasers were helmed by Sal Rende, who led them to 3rd, 1st, and 5th place finishes respectively–leaving the position just a year after a league championship. What was he up to? Why is there some sort of mysterious curtain drawn across his final days there? We may never know.
Sal is currently weighing his options. Already a candidate for this position, he also might want to go back to being the franchise journeymen hitting instructor, riding the rails, spinning tails, and showing a guy how to swing a bat or two. It’s a charmed life, certainly; one with enough appeal to seduce new Phillies hitting coach Steve Henderson for a number of seasons. The ‘Pigs tied Rende down for a year, to replace Greg Gross, but they had to know his wanderlusting spirit would soon send him out on the road. He’s managed at single, double, and triple-A, in a variety of systems with a variety of results.
Currently managing the Phillies’ Arizona Fall League entry Peoria Javelinas, Dusty’s got a lot on his plate. He’s got the javelinas gig now, and the Reading Phillies managing position to come back to when the season kicks up again. Also I imagine he’ll accomplish other things in between those two. Like for instance, that wood pile in the backyard isn’t going to split and stack itself, Dusty. Come on.
Like Rende, Dusty was once in the Royals’ system, and even played for them in 2002. He retired as a minor league Phillie in 2007 before setting the bar for guys like Andy Tracy in Williamsport to come in an manage a team they could have been playing for just years before. The R-Phils are the hottest ticket in the farm system right now, and served as our sole entrant to any incarnation of minor league playoffs under Dusty’s tutelage.
Another former Kansas City Royals employee, Mizerock used to manage the actual Royals while they were hurriedly getting Tony Pena to take his place. But his brief interim as a Major League manager can’t tarnish his success in the minors: the guy was Midwest League Manager of the Year in 1994, Carolina League Manager of the Year in 1995, Carolina League champion in 1996, Texas League champion in 1998, and Minor League Manager of the Year in 1999.
Basically, if it was the ’90s, John Mizerock was winning a minor league baseball award of some kind.
He was immortalized in bobblehead form in 2007 after returning to the Wilmington Blue Rocks to manage the right into the playoffs. Eventually, the Phillies sucked him away and made him hitting coach of the Threshers in Clearwater, though this seems a somewhat less favored role in an organization for a guy with as little room on his mantel as Mizerock.