Today, the Phillies announced that all six of their major league coaches have agreed to contracts for the 2012 season. Mick Billmeyer, Rich Dubee, Greg Gross, Pete Mackanin, Sam Perlozzo, and Juan Samuel will return to their places in the upcoming 2012 campaign. Phillies’ bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo will also resume his position in the pen. Is this the right decision, though?
The Phillies’ bench staff has practically been the same staff that has been with this team through it’s best days (with the exceptions of Davey Lopes and Milt Thompson). The 2008 World Series Championship, their return to the Fall Classic in 2009, and their recent run of five consecutive NL East Championships.
Let’s look at the offense through the seasons. In 2008, the Phillies’ had a team batting average .255, ranked tenth in the league. They led the league with 214 home runs, as did they in 2009 with 224 long balls. In 2010, the Phillies’ home run totals dropped to 166, fifth in the league and 58 less than the season before.
In July of that year, hitting coach Milt Thompson was relieved of his duties and replaced with former minor-league hitting coach, Greg Gross. The Phillies finished the 2010 season with a .260 team average, this season, they dropped even lower with just 153 homers. That wasn’t the only big change for the 2011 season. Once speed demons of the National League, the Phillies slowed down in 2011, only stealing 96 bases. What happened?
For starters, Davey Lopes left the team after 2010 season after he and the Phillies failed to reach an agreement. Lopes, who began coaching first base for the Phillies in 2007, was a big part of why the Phillies were so deadly on the base path.
In 2007, the Phillies stole 138 bags, finishing second to the Mets (200). The following season, they stole 136 bases. In 2009, they stole 119 bases and in 2010 they stole 108 total bases. In three of Lopes' seasons with the Phillies, the team led the majors in stolen base percentage, including the best in MLB history in 2007-–87.9 percent (138-for-157). This season, the Phillies stole 96 bases out of 120 attempts (80 percent). That’s not a bad percentage at all, but there were far fewer attempts than in previous seasons. Since their total 138 stolen bases in 2007, their base stealing prowess has declined.
With Lopes now coaching the Dodgers, it leaves Sam Perlozzo to coach first base. Perlozzo has not lived up to Lopes’ legacy, but the Phillies still stole more than 90 bases this year. I think the Phillies should attempt to steal more often. Jimmy Rollins, who stole 47 our of 50 attempted bases in 2008, only stole 30 out of 38 total tries this year. Shane Victorino, who stole 36 out of 40 attempts last season, only stole 19 out of 22 attempts this season.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee hasn’t really had to work on anything the past couple of seasons, his pitchers do it themselves. Okay, not all of that is true. Dubee has helped the Phils’ pitching staff greatly, most certainly illustrated by his teaching Cole Hamels his cutter after the 2009 season.
As for the rest of the pitching staff, Mick Billmeyer has helped develop the bullpen into one of the strongest in the majors. The bullpen allowed an average 5.07 runs allowed/game in 2007, the year before Billmeyer became bullpen coach. This season, the bullpen dropped to an average 3.27 runs allowed/game.
Juan Samuel joined the Phillies this season as the new third base coach, filling in for Perlozzo who moved over to first. Samuel played for the Phillies from 1983-1989 and ended his career after moving between six teams. He took over the Orioles shortly as interim manager in 2010, but was fired in late July.
As for Pete Mackanin, he does his job managing the club after Charlie has been ejected from a game. It doesn’t happen very often, but when Charlie loses his cool, Mackanin takes charge. Manuel, who signed a contract extension of his own in early March, had positive words to say for his staff.
“I couldn’t be happier to have the whole staff back for another season,” said Manuel. “Their dedication and work ethic speak for themselves and they were a huge part of our 102 wins.”
At the start of the 2012 season, Billmeyer and Dubee will be entering their ninth and eighth seasons with the Phillies, respectively. Mackanin and Perlozzo will both be entering their fourth seasons while Gross will enter his third, followed by Samuel, who will coach for his second season under Manuel’s wings.
This is just the beginning of the offseason-signing process that the Phillies must get through. Free agency looms after the World Series, and Ryan Madson and Jimmy Rollins remain the two biggest names on the list for Ruben Amaro. Even with more signings to be made, Charlie and his coaching staff are locked and loaded for the upcoming 2012 campaign.
Erik Seybold is a contributor to Buzz On Broad. You can follow him on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI