Storyline #4: The Mackanin Watch
I have been a Pete Mackanin fan since his hiring. It is a positive feeling as a fan that every article that talks about the manager (whether local or national) seem to always refer to him as being respected in all baseball circles.
That being said, 2017 is a critical year for the manager. Mackanin asked for bats to fill out his lineup and more arms in his bullpen. He had every right to do so since he was running an aged Carlos Ruiz out every few days hitting fifth. The lineup was not deep, and he was close to hitting an innings limit for Hector Neris by the end of June last season.
Now, Mackanin has veteran bats to fill out his lineup. General Manager, Matt Klentak, made a minor deal to acquire veteran righty, Howie Kendrick. While not what he once was, Mackanin has praised him for his approach, and they hope for it to rub off on Maikel Franco. Throughout Spring, we saw Kendrick selflessly give himself up to move runners around the bases. Klentak also added Michael Saunders for some lefty pop, which should help balance Mackanin’s lineup and protect Franco.
He will be able to couple that with a stable starting rotation and deep bullpen. Klentak added Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek to a solid stable of right-handers, Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Neris, and Eudobray Ramos. He has a couple of young lefties in Adam Morgan, who will fit the long man role nicely and the electric Joely Rodriguez, who had success in a short stint at the end of the 2016 season.
Mackanin has his answers, and if he plans on having his option for 2018 picked up, he will need to take advantage of them. If the team does not improve upon last season, it is likely the Phils may move on from the 65-year-old baseball lifer. They are going to want a manager to grow with the kids that are on the way. I believe Mackanin can help them grow and mature, but this season will be very telling as to whether my thought is truth.