Posted on September 29, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Sunday will be Pete Mackanin’s last game as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. The club announced on Friday that Mackanin will not manage the Phillies next season despite being under contract for next season. Instead, he will be moved into the front office where he will serve as a special assistant to GM Matt Klentak.
“When I arrived here two years ago, I didn’t know Pete at all, I had never met him before,” said Klentak Friday. “In the two years that have followed, Pete has really grown into a trusted ally and a partner in this rebuild. And maybe more than anything, Pete has turned into a really good friend.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he’s accomplished in his baseball career as a player, as a coach, as a manager, and I’m very proud of the way that he has represented the Phillies in the last two years that I’ve been here as the (general) manager. It’s for all these reasons that I am very happy that Pete has agreed to stay with us in the future.”
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Mackanin has managed the Phillies since June 2015 when Ryne Sandberg resigned from the position. However, success has been hard to find for the Phillies in the midst of a rebuilding project. During Mackanin’s tenure as manager, the Phillies are 172-237.
The Phillies gave Mackanin an extension earlier this year to retain him as their manager through the 2018 campaign. However, plans have changed and the team will now look to fill the manager’s spot this offseason.
“I think as the season has gone on, and as we have turned the roster over, and as the younger players have shown up in Philadelphia and we’ve seen some of that progress, we’ve reached that critical phase that,” explained Klentak. “I think it’s time for us to turn a page and start looking forward to the future.”
Little was expected in Philadelphia this season. Not surprisingly, the Phillies have one of the worst records in baseball. However, the team is just two games under .500 since the all-star break. The Phillies finally appear ready to make a meaningful step forward next season, which is why it’s a surprise to see a managerial change at this point.
“I can’t sit here and say I’m not disappointed in what’s occurred,” said Mackanin. “However, I think this rebuild is starting to get legs. I think the players are improving. … I’m just happy Matt offered me this opportunity to stay with the Phillies, because I think this organization has been really good to me, and I’d really love to see this thing come to fruition. It would have been nice as manager, but I’m thrilled I can stick around and play a part in it.”
The Phillies have gotten positive performances from several young pitchers this season, with Aaron Nola, Ben Lively, and Jake Thompson standing out from the pack. Offensively, Aaron Altherr has enjoyed a breakout season, while rookies like Rhys Hoskins, Jorge Alfaro, and Nick Williams have all made a strong first impression.
What direction Klentak decides to go is unclear. He was hired as GM after Mackanin had taken over as manager, so he is yet to hire a manager as a major league GM. The Phillies are starting to move toward the end of their rebuilding project. Instead of merely looking to develop players, the Phillies will need to bring in a manager who can help them win games and compete for a spot in the postseason in the years to come.