Mickey Morandini returned to the Phillies in 2011 as the manager at Williamsport, a rookie-ball team. He had Aaron Altherr and Maikel Franco in his lineup and Adam Morgan and Hector Neris on his pitching staff. He managed and coached at four levels for five seasons before reaching the majors again, and his fate is nebulous just like those of the rest of the coaching staff and much of the roster.
This season's final moments are a chance to say goodbye for players and coaches. They double as tense times, with a few wandering thoughts about who will be here when the 2018 season starts.
"I've been with this group since 2011," said Morandini, the first-base coach. "So it's kind of like I've been rebuilding with them, you know? I'd like to finish out."
That is the overwhelming sentiment among a coaching staff advised to look for jobs elsewhere. The next manager will decide whom his coaches are. He could retain some or none.
Juan Samuel, the third-base coach, has been on staff for seven seasons and is credited with helping Odubel Herrera transform himself from a Rule 5 pick infielder to a productive major-league centerfielder. The Phillies have scored almost a half run more per game this season, the first with Matt Stairs as hitting coach, than last season. Larry Bowa, 71, has spent more time in a Phillies uniform than any other man ever.
A handful of pitchers, especially in the bullpen, have flashed improvement under Bob McClure and Rick Kranitz. Two rookie catchers have gained game-calling experience with the assistance of John McLaren.
But all the coaches will have to explore employment elsewhere. It is unclear if any will receive interviews for the vacant managerial job. They assume the worst; the team has lost 90-plus games for three straight seasons.
"At least I have a contract for the next few years, and I feel bad for them," deposed Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I've been there before. It's not a good feeling. You have to start making connections. You try to make connections as quickly as possible because teams are in a decision-making time of the season. They have to decide who's coming back and who's not. There's going to be openings. You want to get your name out there."
Morandini, 51, was popular as a player. He has spent 18 seasons with the organization. There would be a benefit, he said, if the next manager kept some of the coaches from the previous staff to foster some comfort with a young roster.
"For us to have the record we did in the first and play like we did in the second, there's not a lot of teams that can do that," Morandini said. "I think we're all proud of what we accomplished in the second half.
"I would obviously like to finish what we've started. I want to be a part of it. I think it's going to be good."