Should Larry Bowa Be Added To The Phillies' 2014 Coaching Staff?
Now that the 2013 regular baseball season is over with, one of the many concerns that Phillies fans have for the 2014 season is what new manager Ryne Sandberg's coaching staff will look like. As of this writing, pitching coach Rich Dubee has been dismissed, but no replacement for him has been announced, nor have there been any other coaches hired for the Phillies' 2014 staff.
Rumors have been swirling that former Phillies manager and Dodgers and Yankees coach Larry Bowa may be included on Sandberg's staff. Bowa and Sandberg know each other well from their days playing together in the Cubs' infield in the early 1980s.
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After Bowa became the manager of the San Diego Padres in 1987, he vented his frustration at the Cubs' organization in an autobiography "Bleep: Larry Bowa Manages". His aggressive, flamboyant style did not go over well in San Diego. He later managed the Phillies from 2001-2004, but the Phillies did not become truly great until well into the Charlie Manuel era. Now Bowa is in his late sixties. Would he be an asset or a liability to the Phillies' staff in 2014?
Bruce Buratti, writing in the Lehigh Valley Express-Times, states: "Charlie Manuel was, to be sure, a player's manager, which is a useful virtue to have in today's game with today's players." He adds: "Martinet styles don't work anymore in present-day athletics, which means those with management styles like Dick Williams, Gene Mauch and Larry Bowa are passé. The Terry Franconas and Clint Hurdles are in and they'll continue to be in the future." Well stated!
Also, Craig Calcaterra, for Hardball Talk - NBC Sports wrote on Sept. 19, 2013:
"Bowa's reputation is as a tough guy who pounds fundamentals and angers veterans. This was pretty bad when he was at the helm of a veteran-laden Phillies team in the early-to-mid 2000s. Guys like Jimmy Rollins, Bobby Abreu, Mike Lieberthal, Jim Thome and Pat Burrell were not exactly enamored with Bowa's firm hand."
The 2014 Phillies will have many young players who have had mixed results up to 2013 and will be expected to make significant contributions to help the Phillies improve on their forgettable 2013 season. Players like Jake Diekman, Cody Asche, and Cesar Hernandez will play a large part in determining how the 2014 Phillies team fares. That calls for patience by management, not flamboyance. I would argue that Bowa would be a major liability to the Phillies' staff, especially if he is Sandberg's bench coach (which means he would become the acting manager anytime Sandberg is unable to perform his duties for any reason, or if he is ejected from a game). There are many qualified baseball people who are more even-tempered and have much more experience helping young players make the quantum leap from AAA to the majors. I hope that Ruben Amaro and Ryne Sandberg will both have the foresight to look elsewhere for qualified coaches.