The Phillies have rounded out their 2007 coaching staff with Art Howe, Davey Lopes and Jimy Williams. All three have served as Major League managers with 2,183 wins between them.
The Phillies may not sign big-name pitchers this winter, but they know how to fill out a bench with recognizable, knowledgeable coaches from all corners of baseball.
For just one second, forget manager Charlie Manuel and the looking over the shoulder part, which cannot be more painfully obvious with the addition of three experienced coaches. The Phillies figure to be in much better hands with a team of four bosses who can stress a variety of areas. It was a necassary step to kick up the quality of play. The Phillies fell short on fundimentals like bunting and base-stealing last season. And if they fire Manuel - now guaranteed to happen at the first sign of trouble - they'll have a decent back-up plan.
Howe, 59, is probably the biggest name of the bunch and was a skipper the shortest time ago - 2004, his last season with the Mets. Owner of a 1,129-1,137 (.498) career record with the Astros, A’s and Mets, he’ll man third base and will serve as fielding instructor. During his career, he played all over the field.
Lopes, 61, transplants from Frank Robinson's crew in Washington and will be at first base. He will also instruct the outfielders and base-running, two roles he held last season with the Nats. I like this idea quite a bit. Lopes was an incredible, all-star level burner; he finished his career with 1,023 runs scored and 557 stolen bases. It could be fun to watch players like Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn continue to develop under his watch. Lopes managed the Brewers from 2000-02, and has been coaching the big leagues since 1988. Good guy to have.
That leaves Williams, 63, to assist Manuel with the Xs and Os back on the bench. Williams, who had been working for the Devil Rays as an instructor, last managed the Astros in 2004 and was the Red Sox skipper from 1997-2001. Most notably for us, he managed the Blue Jays under GM Pat Gillick from 1986-1989, until he was fired part-way through the 1989 season following a slow start. He spent most of the 1990s with the Braves as their third base coach, working under Bobby Cox - the man he had replaced in Toronto. Though he never won the division title with Toronto, he had some very good seasons under Gillick, including a 96-66 record and 2nd place finish in 1987.
Both Williams and Howe have managed hundreds and hundreds more games than Manuel. They take over for three coaches who had virtually no big-league experience at all. It’s a worthy, albeit motley, collection to compliment a team who, frankly, outgrew the previous staff.
As for the over/under on Cholly, it's set at one month.