You’re probably just as surprised by the success that the Phillies were having post-All Star break (before Arizona) as everyone else. They hit the ball well, they pitched the ball well (before Arizona), and haven’t played too shabby a defense either.
It seems that the team was jelling, albeit way too late to matter when it comes to getting themselves into postseason position. That doesn’t mean they can’t factor into the postseason discussion, as they have 15 games remaining against the Mets and Nationals, the two teams fighting for the NL East crown.
While they were perhaps looked upon as definite wins in the opposing team’s ledger, they have been (before Arizona) a much tougher opponent to deal with. Much of this success has been attributed to interim manager Pete Mackanin, and his apparent ability to coax the best out of his lineup.
It’s quite obvious that Mackanin is better suited to be managing this Phillies team than former skipper Ryne Sandberg. Phillies beat writers have focused on the positive communication with players that Mackanin has shown, something Sandberg simply didn’t have in his tool box.
With a team so far in the tank record-wise, communication from the manager’s office was a must for the rest of season. Players needed to know what was going on, now and for the future, in regards to their individual roles. Even something as simple as a “good job, kid” could go a long way toward a younger players’ confidence.
Mackanin’s personality and desire to relate to his players meant that he would be perfect to lead the team into the slow unwinding of the three months remaining on the 2015 schedule when he took over the helm. This does not mean that Mackanin should automatically be considered the permanent solution going forward, however.
Much of the offensive success is due to the fact that players like Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez have been extremely hot since the break. They’ve also had somewhat unsustainable BABIP numbers, which could lead to some regression, though some will argue that perhaps the pair won’t regress as much as you might expect.
However, it’s important to remember that both of these players have never been regarded as future regular contributors to a lineup, and to think and/or depend on their duplicating this recent success would be foolhardy.
Mackanin does have some things going right for him. The communication part, which I already mentioned. He also isn’t nearly as bad at running a bullpen as Sandberg. There haven’t been many examples yet of his being out-managed, something Sandberg was with too much frequency.
At the very least, Mackanin would seem to have earned himself an interview for the position come the offseason, if he is interested in the position. The problem is Ruben Amaro and the anticipation that he will be relieved from his responsibilities as general manager at the end of the season.
Most times, when a team brings in new management, that incoming group wants their own people in charge. New team president Andy MacPhail will likely want to hire a new general manager who conforms more to his vision for the future of the franchise.
If a new GM were hired, then it seems plausible that he, or she, will want someone in the dugout of their own choosing as manager. This could mean that Mackanin doesn’t stand much of a chance to continue as the full-time skipper with the 2016 Phillies team.
It’s not that PeteMackanin hasn’t earned such an opportunity. As we’ve seen, he’s capable of leading this team to success, at least over a short-term. It just doesn’t look like he’ll get the more permanent shot which many fans and other observers now think he deserves.