Is Mickey Callaway best candidate to be Philadelphia Phillies manager?


With all of the rumors swirling about the next manager for the Philadelphia Phillies, is Mickey Callaway the best candidate?

My buddy Mike recently asked me over a beer, “You know how you tell who’d make a good manager for the Philadelphia Phillies, or any team? Find a guy who stunk at the major league level.”

I had heard the argument before. The great ones can’t manage; the real managers weren’t great. If this is true, then Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway may have a leg up on the competition for the Phillies’ open manager’s chair. He might interview with the club as early as next week.

More from Section 215

A legendary schoolboy athlete in the Memphis area, Callaway could dunk a basketball in the ninth grade (at 5’ 10”) and was an unhittable pitcher by the time he was a junior. After he graduated from Ol’ Miss, however, he began to run into the wind. Taken in the seventh round of the 1996 MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, he began a run in minor league and foreign baseball that included several cups of coffee in the majors.

Those brief stints would comprise his entire MLB career. He appeared in 23 games for the Texas Rangers and Anaheim Angels in his “peak” year, went 7-8, and posted a 6.68 ERA. He last pitched in the majors in 2005, and eventually ended up in Cleveland’s minor league system as a mentor.

In 2013, Indians manager Terry Francona tapped the journeyman to coach his pitchers. Callaway had about five years of working with young players at that point.

Excellence He Never Had as a Player

Since then, the Indians’ pitching staff has had the fourth best ERA in the majors (3.64). This past year they had the best staff in the game, posting firsts in ERA (3.29) and the strikeout to walk ratio (3.80) and a second in WHIP (1.16).

Yes, you’re saying, but he has Corey Kluber, and Andrew Miller to eat up the middle of every other game. Yeah, OK, maybe he helped to “fix” Carlos Carrasco, but how do we know what he’d do here with players who aren’t all pitchers?

Part of the answer may be found in a detailed article by Merritt Rohlfing, who set out late last year to understand Callaway’s value to the Indians’ success that had just fallen short of a world championship. At first, Rohlfing could only discern that Callaway emphasized a pitcher’s “commitment” to what he’s throwing, and wondered if that were just “bullcrap coachspeak.”

He eventually decided that evaluation was somewhat inaccurate – it is important for a pitcher to have a focused intent to execute each pitch well. Deep divers into successful pitching have found it is important to be the aggressor on the mound, Rohlfing argued. He concluded his piece with this observation: “The Indians have a Freud working for them. Hopefully nobody else in baseball notices, for Cleveland’s sake.”

It says here that Callaway, who is only four years older than Phillies GM Matt Klentak, might be able to ably mold the psychologies of the emerging young hitters in Philadelphia, as well as figure out which of the young pitchers on the Phillies 40-man roster actually belong there (besides Aaron Nola, Adam Morgan, and Hector Neris).

Next: 3 takeaways from Eagles 28-23 win over Panthers

Some of those young hitters have had something like the rocky road Callaway travelled in his playing career (Aaron Altherr); some seem to lack focus (Odubel Herrera); some with even great talent spent too long in the minors (Rhys Hoskins).

Paging Dr. Callaway. Dr. Mickey Callaway, please report to Citizens Bank Park stat.