Philadelphia Phillies: Time to think outside the box about manager?

How about a subliminal [Chase Utley] lead-in about the current Philadelphia Phillies search for a manager? It [Chase Utley] really seems a no-brainer.

Philadelphia Inquirer writer Matt Gelb has used the term “deliberate” to describe the search by the Philadelphia Phillies for a manager. He carefully laid out the process the team has implemented on Oct. 23. He noted that a list of dozens has now been narrowed down to “about ten,” with a second round of “finalist” interviews forthcoming…yawn…with hope for an ultimate decision around…yawn…Nov. 1.

But hey, at least Chase Utley gets to go back to the World Series.

“About ten,” huh? The actual number must be a state secret, I guess.

I don’t envy Gelb’s job at the moment.

People don’t pay much attention to major league baseball after their favorite teams are eliminated in September or October, so the Phillies can probably breathe easy about their slogging search. Most will have forgotten by next spring that they have already missed a couple of reasonably good choices (read, Alex Cora and Mickey Callaway).

So maybe the Phillies aren’t actually looking for a younger manager to shepherd their promising younger players. Fine. Chip Hale’s apparently still in the mix – or is reported to be. Again: shhhhh! Hale is 52, young enough, one assumes, to understand smartphones and hip hop. His managerial winning percentage with the Arizona Diamondbacks was .457. His team ended up third and fourth. As Jim Bouton has reminded the world, however, Charlie Brown once told Lucy to “tell your statistics to shut up.” Chip Hale might be a fine manager if given another shot.

However, the Phillies shouldn’t give him that shot.

What the Phillies should do, honestly, is making a very, very serious push to convince Utley to consider a career change. The former six-time All-Star and world champion is so beloved in Philadelphia that on any given game day at Citizens Bank Park this past season, number 26 jerseys still outnumbered those of all players currently on the Phillies roster. I have seen this personally, as many of you have – in my case as recently as the game in which Aaron Altherr took Clayton Kershaw deep with three on.

But that’s not the reason to hire Utley. Utley is a leader. Enough said. He’s not a fiery guy like Larry Bowa, an arguably failed manager, but he is a leader. To pick a remark almost at random about this, here we go: “Utley has been regarded [in Los Angeles] as a major behind-the-scenes contributor, with teammates and coaches praising his clubhouse leadership.”

Chase Utley will turn 39 in December. While his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers is set to expire after the World Series, he has said he still enjoys playing even though his days as a starter are clearly over. (Honestly, his most notable play this past season wasn’t really a play. He managed to be tossed from a game for asking an umpire to move a bit.)

If the Phillies really want to knock their manager search out of the park, they could do a whole lot worse than betting on a world champion.

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