The first casualty after the Phillies' worst season in 13 years was longtime pitching coach Rich Dubee, who was fired Monday.
Dubee, one of the longest-tenured pitching coaches in baseball at nine years, oversaw a staff that finished 2013 with a lower ERA (4.34) only than altitude-sickened Colorado. He will be remembered as former manager Charlie Manuel's right-hand man during the franchise's finest era. Dubee made almost every pitching decision while working for Manuel.
"Rich was a big part of a wonderful era here and in his nine years he served our organization very well," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. "We believe it is time for change as we move forward. We thank Rich for his professionalism and contribution to the Phillies."
Manager Ryne Sandberg, in consultation with Amaro, will hire his own man. Bullpen coach Rod Nichols is one candidate - he was Sandberg's pitching coach at triple-A Lehigh Valley for two seasons - but the Phillies could decide someone with more experience is necessary.
An improved personnel group is more important than the next pitching coach. The Phillies used 27 pitchers in 2013, more than in any other season but 2007. Injuries ravaged the staff.
Dubee, known for his New England gruff, rose from the Phillies' minor-league ranks after serving as Florida's pitching coach for four years. He appeared resigned to his fate in recent weeks.
When former Phillies pitcher and current MLB Network analyst Mitch Williams called for Dubee's termination earlier this season, many of his pitchers rose to his defense. Roy Halladay, considered Dubee's closest pupil, was steadfast in his support.
Dubee's nine years as pitching coach were tied for the most in franchise history. Cy Perkins (1946-54) and Ray Rippelmeyer (1970-78) also spent nine years in the position. The Phillies had a 3.02 ERA in 2011 when they won 102 games. It was the lowest mark for any major-league team in 23 years.
The Phillies are expected to make further changes to their coaching staff. The team has two openings with Dubee's departure and Sandberg's promotion from third-base coach to manager. Sandberg said the process could take some time.
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