Ron Costello

Friday, October 12, 2018

One word sums up the Phillies from now until the start of Spring Training: CHANGE.

Player position moves, trades, free agent signings, and coaching changes will be surfacing like smallmouths on the Susquehanna.

Except, one. The manager.

Nonetheless, if Gabe Kapler's name is among the Republicans and Democrats on the November 6th midterms, it's a safe bet he'd never win — no matter his opponent.

Well, okay, sure, there may be a few he could beat, like J.D. Drew,  Danny Tartabull, or Scott Rolen. Or, the most hated vermin since William Penn stole the Leni Lenape's land in the "Great Treaty:" The rally squirrel.

Maybe.

All in all, however, the Phillies may be letting a good baseball man leave right beneath the noses of the Faithful: Dusty Wathan. And there are few smallmouths amongst the Faithful. Mr. Kapler can vouch for that.

Mr. Wathan has managed in the Phillies minor league system since he took over the Williamsport Crosscutters in 2008. Before the start of the past season, he lost out to current Phillies manager Gabe Kaper, and then served faithfully and expertly as Mr. Kapler's third base coach.

Mr. Wathan played a considerable role in helping to develop some of the Phillies' current young stars on the 44 man roster and in the minor leagues.

His minor league teams reached the postseason five times in his ten years as a manager in the Phillies' system. He was Eastern League manager of the year at Double-A Reading — twice — in 2015 and 2016.

Young Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford called Mr. Wathan, "the best manager I've ever had."

We're talking pedigree, here, Philadelphia Phillies pedigree. We're talking about a potential Buck Showalter, Mike Matheny, or Bruce Bochy. Maybe a Joe Maddon.

While the Faithful's attention has shifted to the Eagles, Flyers, Union, Soul, Wings, and Sixers — or for those hibernating until spring — Mr. Wathan is interviewing in Arlington for the Rangers' managing job.

What can be done about it? Absolutely nothing. Gabe Kapler and the young and inexperienced Matt Klentak are stuck together like a sheet of sticky buns.

They will succeed or fail together, and as always, all the Faithful can do is watch.

It's not like it's the first time. We've seen this dog and pony show before. But there is one thing that sticks in the craw of the Phillies organization: Empty seats.

Even with the team in first place in August, there was game after game, sections of empty seats and a half-filled ballpark. Though there'll be no mid-term elections for the Faithful in November — not for baseball, anyway — yet one thing is for sure.

For the Faithful, voting starts on March 28, 2019: The home opener.



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