The Philadelphia Phillies made a number of dugout determinations since the 2013 regular season ended. The most noteworthy is likely to be the hire of Larry Bowa as Ryne Sandberg's bench coach. But, another important decision awaits as general manager Ruben Amaro, Junior's efforts to obtain a new pitching coach continue.
The retention of Juan Samuel (first base coach) and Wally Joyner (assistant hitting coach) appears to show that 'Ryno' has agreed with keeping a number (likely five) of the coaches that he oversaw at the end of this season. Joyner, who initially rejected a chance to return to the team, accepted another contract after apparently losing out on the Los Angeles Angles' hitting coach position.
Steve Henderson (hitting coach), Rod Nichols (bullpen coach) and Jesus Tiamo (bullpen catcher), along with Samuel and Joyner, remained on Sandberg's staff after he took over for Charlie Manuel in mid-August.
Pete Mackanin, who has returned to the team after a one-year hiatus, effectively has replaced Sandberg as the new third base coach.
The eliminations of Rich Dubee (pitching coach) and Mick Billmeyer (who officially was the catching instructor) were made for diverse reasons. Billmeyer served as a de facto bench coach for Sandberg after Manuel was relieved. While he was well-liked, his resume isn't comparable to Bowa's in any way.
Dubee's number came up. This strong mound man wasn't actually denied another contract because of anything wrong that he had done. Instead, his deletion from the staff merely represents the natural ebb and flow of coaches around the major leagues.
Nichols could be promoted to the top pitching spot if another candidate isn't obtained. However, it appears as though Amaro and Sandberg have a few men in mind and are simply playing the off-season waiting game.
The Phillies' next choice will represent the most crucial coaching decision since Sandberg was hired to lead the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs three years ago. Even though they are far removed from their Little League days, big league pitchers still thrive, or dive, depending upon how they relate to their pitching coach.