In a rather surprising turn, the Phillies have announced that hitting coach John Mallee has been “relieved … of his duties.” He’ll be replaced by none other than Charlie Manuel, the club’s grizzled former skipper. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki first tweeted the news.
It’s a decidedly old-school turn for the uber-contemporary Phils. There are some echoes here of a move earlier this year by the division-rival Mets, who installed the 82-year-old Phil Regan as pitching coach and have seemingly benefited from the move. Manuel, 75, has remained a visible figure in the Phillies organization since finishing his time as the manager, but has not occupied a rigorous, everyday role. It seems likely he’ll only be asked to man his new post for the remainder of the present season.
There’s little question the Phillies are in need of a jolt. They’ve steadily slipped behind the Braves, Nats, and Mets since holding the NL East lead in mid-June. Now, the Philadelphia club is separated from postseason position by two games and multiple other teams.
Manuel has long been lauded for his hitting acumen, so he’ll be asked to help the club’s batters with their mechanics and approach. That’s certainly an area of need, given that the Phillies have collectively produced at a mediocre 90 wRC+ clip over the past thirty days. But it seems this move says as much about a need for veteran grit and gravitas as it does a desire to modify the organization’s batting tutelage. And it’s a clear sign that Phillies upper management is not pleased with the way the season has progressed after a winter chock full of big investments.