Bill Streicher / USATODAY Sports Images

In an exclusive interview with Philly Baseball Insider, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin talks about making tough decisions.

Since his playing days ended, Pete Mackanin has worked in minor league development positions, coaching positions and now is the manager of the Phillies. He's used to tough decisions, but he had to make his toughest yet in the middle of last season.

   

Pete Mackanin had to wait his turn to get a job as a major league manager that didn't have the word 'interim' in front of the title. He finally got his chance with the Phillies and is poised to be at the helm when the team starts to emerge from their rebuild. Mackanin has an option year for 2018 left on his contract and this season could help determine when - or if - that option is picked up.

http://www.scout.com/player/206166-pete-mackanin?s=309

As many of the holdovers from the 2008 World Championship team moved closer to the end of their time in Philadelphia, Mackanin was there to say good-bye. The last vestige of that era was first baseman Ryan Howard. The end had been near for Howard for some time, with injuries leading to declining numbers and once he was healthy, he was simply unable to pull those numbers back up to where they needed to be for a major league first baseman.

The Phillies attempted to trade Howard, but simply couldn't find a taker, even though they offered to eat a healthy chunk of his contract. There were rumors that the team would simply eat the entire remainder of his hefty deal and release him, but they never pulled the trigger on that move. Last season, with Howard struggling, Darin Ruf found himself playing first base at times against left-handed hitters. A Howard-Ruf platoon could have had the potential of being very workable for the Phillies. Instead, Ruf struggled against lefties and Howard was back in the lineup on a more regular basis, but still struggling.

http://www.scout.com/player/49988-ryan-howard?s=309

While all of this was happening, Tommy Joseph was pounding the ball as the first baseman for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Joseph came into May hitting .368 and Mackanin started to lose sleep. With all that Joseph had been through, facing one concussion after another, learning to play first base, and then slimming down to make himself more mobile defensively, his offense was now through the roof. He had never gotten the call to the majors, and had been taken off of the 40-man roster over the winter, but was now showing that he might belong in Philadelphia.

As Mackanin admitted that he continued to literally lose sleep over the decision that he had to make, he was the one to pull the trigger. Mackanin spoke with GM Matt Klentak and decided the move had to be made.

"Over the years, as a manager, as a development guy, you have to release guys, you have to send them down and you never like to make those decisions, but at some point, it's got to be done," said Mackanin about benching Howard. "I just figured that the most important part of that situation was to see what Tommy could do to be a part of the future. It became more important, in my decision, to find out about the guy than it was to give Howie another shot facing lefties. It's more for the team and the city of Philadelphia, and Howard accepted it very well. It was very hard to do and I hope that I never have a situation like that again."

http://www.scout.com/player/171815-tommy-joseph?s=309

Joseph came to the majors and continued to hit. A month into his tenure, Joseph was hitting .301 with seven home runs, three more than he had in six weeks of the season at Lehigh Valley. The decision was paying off and was being made easier by none other than Ryan Howard himself, who Joseph credits with making the transition to the Phillies starting lineup as easy as it could be for him.

"They got along very well," noted Mackanin of the relationship between the former MVP and the rookie who was taking his place. "As tough as it was for Ryan to accept the role I put on him, he handled it as a true professional. Not only did he handle it for himself personally, but he made it comfortable for Tommy Joseph. He was aware that Tommy might be uncomfortable, knowing that you're taking the place of an icon and moving him onto the bench, so I give all the credit in the world to Ryan Howard, he really did handle that well."

Related: Tommy Joseph credits Ryan Howard for his help.

Interestingly, the next tough decision that Mackanin may have to make involves a young player, but a guy who hasn't had the immediate success that Joseph had in the majors. Aaron Altherr has put up impressive minor league numbers, and the tools are there, but he has struggled offensively in a limited sample size at the major league level. A wrist injury cost him most of last season and now, with Odubel HerreraHowie Kendrick and Michael Saunders seemingly set for the Phillies outfield, Altherr is in a tough spot. Especially considering that the Triple-A outfield already has Dylan CozensRoman Quinn and Nick Williams penciled in to start for the IronPigs.

"Aaron Altherr has as good of tools as anybody in the major leagues. He can run, he's got a plus-arm, he's a well above average defender, he's got plus-power and he's got good hitting ability," said Mackanin, whose tone quickly changed. "But this is a bottom line business, and at some point, you've got to put up numbers, and I think he's capable of doing it and I'm anxious to see if he can; I like him."

One scenario has Altherr and the three other Lehigh Valley outfielders rotating through the lineup and at times, serving as a designated hitter. If all goes well, Saunders, who recently signed with the Phillies as a free agent, could put up big first-half numbers and become a nice, juicy piece of trade bait. That move could open a spot for one of the Triple-A outfielders. Saunders had a nice season last year, but slumped badly in the second-half, hitting just .178 after the All-Star Game for Toronto. 

http://www.scout.com/player/160324-aaron-altherr?s=309

Mackanin is well aware of Saunders' late season struggles, but shrugged it off in a recent conversation.

"Most hitters are streaky, everybody goes through streaks. Some go through deeper streaks or deeper slumps more than other guys. Some guys go into a three-day slump and they break out of it, those are the good ones. A guy like Brandon Moss, who we were talking about, he just nosedived in September," noted Mackanin. "The model of consistency is what we're looking for, guys who don't go into a prolonged slump and know how to get out of them. Guys who know how to get out of slumps and will maybe slap a couple of singles or bunt for a hit and not swing as hard to keep their average up, and that's the kind of guy you're looking for."

Whatever happens this season, Mackanin is looking forward to the mix of veterans and young players that his team will have to open the season.

"I think it's a great mix this year, with the addition of those two [Kendrick and Saunders], and I like the additions in the bullpen [Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek] and then, in the rotation with [Clay Buchholz] Buchholz," said Mackanin. "We've got five or six veteran players that we've added that I think are going to be helpful. They're going to look at our young players, our young players are going to look at them and I think they'll feed off of each other."


Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories

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Pete Mackanin had to wait his turn to get a job as a major league manager that didn't have the word 'interim' in front of the title. He finally got his chance with the Phillies and is poised to be at the helm when the team starts to emerge from their rebuild. Mackanin has an option year for 2018 left on his contract and this season could help determine when - or if - that option is picked up.

\n

http://www.scout.com/player/206166-pete-mackanin?s=309

\n

As many of the holdovers from the 2008 World Championship team moved closer to the end of their time in Philadelphia, Mackanin was there to say good-bye. The last vestige of that era was first baseman Ryan Howard. The end had been near for Howard for some time, with injuries leading to declining numbers and once he was healthy, he was simply unable to pull those numbers back up to where they needed to be for a major league first baseman.

\n

The Phillies attempted to trade Howard, but simply couldn't find a taker, even though they offered to eat a healthy chunk of his contract. There were rumors that the team would simply eat the entire remainder of his hefty deal and release him, but they never pulled the trigger on that move. Last season, with Howard struggling, Darin Ruf found himself playing first base at times against left-handed hitters. A Howard-Ruf platoon could have had the potential of being very workable for the Phillies. Instead, Ruf struggled against lefties and Howard was back in the lineup on a more regular basis, but still struggling.

\n

http://www.scout.com/player/49988-ryan-howard?s=309

\n

While all of this was happening, Tommy Joseph was pounding the ball as the first baseman for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Joseph came into May hitting .368 and Mackanin started to lose sleep. With all that Joseph had been through, facing one concussion after another, learning to play first base, and then slimming down to make himself more mobile defensively, his offense was now through the roof. He had never gotten the call to the majors, and had been taken off of the 40-man roster over the winter, but was now showing that he might belong in Philadelphia.

\n

As Mackanin admitted that he continued to literally lose sleep over the decision that he had to make, he was the one to pull the trigger. Mackanin spoke with GM Matt Klentak and decided the move had to be made.

\n

\"Over the years, as a manager, as a development guy, you have to release guys, you have to send them down and you never like to make those decisions, but at some point, it's got to be done,\" said Mackanin about benching Howard. \"I just figured that the most important part of that situation was to see what Tommy could do to be a part of the future. It became more important, in my decision, to find out about the guy than it was to give Howie another shot facing lefties. It's more for the team and the city of Philadelphia, and Howard accepted it very well. It was very hard to do and I hope that I never have a situation like that again.\"

\n

http://www.scout.com/player/171815-tommy-joseph?s=309

\n

Joseph came to the majors and continued to hit. A month into his tenure, Joseph was hitting .301 with seven home runs, three more than he had in six weeks of the season at Lehigh Valley. The decision was paying off and was being made easier by none other than Ryan Howard himself, who Joseph credits with making the transition to the Phillies starting lineup as easy as it could be for him.

\n

\"They got along very well,\" noted Mackanin of the relationship between the former MVP and the rookie who was taking his place. \"As tough as it was for Ryan to accept the role I put on him, he handled it as a true professional. Not only did he handle it for himself personally, but he made it comfortable for Tommy Joseph. He was aware that Tommy might be uncomfortable, knowing that you're taking the place of an icon and moving him onto the bench, so I give all the credit in the world to Ryan Howard, he really did handle that well.\"

\n

Related: Tommy Joseph credits Ryan Howard for his help.

\n

Interestingly, the next tough decision that Mackanin may have to make involves a young player, but a guy who hasn't had the immediate success that Joseph had in the majors. Aaron Altherr has put up impressive minor league numbers, and the tools are there, but he has struggled offensively in a limited sample size at the major league level. A wrist injury cost him most of last season and now, with Odubel HerreraHowie Kendrick and Michael Saunders seemingly set for the Phillies outfield, Altherr is in a tough spot. Especially considering that the Triple-A outfield already has Dylan CozensRoman Quinn and Nick Williams penciled in to start for the IronPigs.

\n

\"Aaron Altherr has as good of tools as anybody in the major leagues. He can run, he's got a plus-arm, he's a well above average defender, he's got plus-power and he's got good hitting ability,\" said Mackanin, whose tone quickly changed. \"But this is a bottom line business, and at some point, you've got to put up numbers, and I think he's capable of doing it and I'm anxious to see if he can; I like him.\"

\n

One scenario has Altherr and the three other Lehigh Valley outfielders rotating through the lineup and at times, serving as a designated hitter. If all goes well, Saunders, who recently signed with the Phillies as a free agent, could put up big first-half numbers and become a nice, juicy piece of trade bait. That move could open a spot for one of the Triple-A outfielders. Saunders had a nice season last year, but slumped badly in the second-half, hitting just .178 after the All-Star Game for Toronto. 

\n

http://www.scout.com/player/160324-aaron-altherr?s=309

\n

Mackanin is well aware of Saunders' late season struggles, but shrugged it off in a recent conversation.

\n

\"Most hitters are streaky, everybody goes through streaks. Some go through deeper streaks or deeper slumps more than other guys. Some guys go into a three-day slump and they break out of it, those are the good ones. A guy like Brandon Moss, who we were talking about, he just nosedived in September,\" noted Mackanin. \"The model of consistency is what we're looking for, guys who don't go into a prolonged slump and know how to get out of them. Guys who know how to get out of slumps and will maybe slap a couple of singles or bunt for a hit and not swing as hard to keep their average up, and that's the kind of guy you're looking for.\"

\n

Whatever happens this season, Mackanin is looking forward to the mix of veterans and young players that his team will have to open the season.

\n

\"I think it's a great mix this year, with the addition of those two [Kendrick and Saunders], and I like the additions in the bullpen [Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek] and then, in the rotation with [Clay Buchholz] Buchholz,\" said Mackanin. \"We've got five or six veteran players that we've added that I think are going to be helpful. They're going to look at our young players, our young players are going to look at them and I think they'll feed off of each other.\"

","mobileBody":"

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Pete Mackanin had to wait his turn to get a job as a major league manager that didn't have the word 'interim' in front of the title. He finally got his chance with the Phillies and is poised to be at the helm when the team starts to emerge from their rebuild. Mackanin has an option year for 2018 left on his contract and this season could help determine when - or if - that option is picked up.

http://www.scout.com/player/206166-pete-mackanin?s=309

As many of the holdovers from the 2008 World Championship team moved closer to the end of their time in Philadelphia, Mackanin was there to say good-bye. The last vestige of that era was first baseman Ryan Howard. The end had been near for Howard for some time, with injuries leading to declining numbers and once he was healthy, he was simply unable to pull those numbers back up to where they needed to be for a major league first baseman.

The Phillies attempted to trade Howard, but simply couldn't find a taker, even though they offered to eat a healthy chunk of his contract. There were rumors that the team would simply eat the entire remainder of his hefty deal and release him, but they never pulled the trigger on that move. Last season, with Howard struggling, Darin Ruf found himself playing first base at times against left-handed hitters. A Howard-Ruf platoon could have had the potential of being very workable for the Phillies. Instead, Ruf struggled against lefties and Howard was back in the lineup on a more regular basis, but still struggling.

http://www.scout.com/player/49988-ryan-howard?s=309

While all of this was happening, Tommy Joseph was pounding the ball as the first baseman for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Joseph came into May hitting .368 and Mackanin started to lose sleep. With all that Joseph had been through, facing one concussion after another, learning to play first base, and then slimming down to make himself more mobile defensively, his offense was now through the roof. He had never gotten the call to the majors, and had been taken off of the 40-man roster over the winter, but was now showing that he might belong in Philadelphia.

As Mackanin admitted that he continued to literally lose sleep over the decision that he had to make, he was the one to pull the trigger. Mackanin spoke with GM Matt Klentak and decided the move had to be made.

\"Over the years, as a manager, as a development guy, you have to release guys, you have to send them down and you never like to make those decisions, but at some point, it's got to be done,\" said Mackanin about benching Howard. \"I just figured that the most important part of that situation was to see what Tommy could do to be a part of the future. It became more important, in my decision, to find out about the guy than it was to give Howie another shot facing lefties. It's more for the team and the city of Philadelphia, and Howard accepted it very well. It was very hard to do and I hope that I never have a situation like that again.\"

http://www.scout.com/player/171815-tommy-joseph?s=309

Joseph came to the majors and continued to hit. A month into his tenure, Joseph was hitting .301 with seven home runs, three more than he had in six weeks of the season at Lehigh Valley. The decision was paying off and was being made easier by none other than Ryan Howard himself, who Joseph credits with making the transition to the Phillies starting lineup as easy as it could be for him.

\"They got along very well,\" noted Mackanin of the relationship between the former MVP and the rookie who was taking his place. \"As tough as it was for Ryan to accept the role I put on him, he handled it as a true professional. Not only did he handle it for himself personally, but he made it comfortable for Tommy Joseph. He was aware that Tommy might be uncomfortable, knowing that you're taking the place of an icon and moving him onto the bench, so I give all the credit in the world to Ryan Howard, he really did handle that well.\"

Related: Tommy Joseph credits Ryan Howard for his help.

Interestingly, the next tough decision that Mackanin may have to make involves a young player, but a guy who hasn't had the immediate success that Joseph had in the majors. Aaron Altherr has put up impressive minor league numbers, and the tools are there, but he has struggled offensively in a limited sample size at the major league level. A wrist injury cost him most of last season and now, with Odubel Herrera, Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders seemingly set for the Phillies outfield, Altherr is in a tough spot. Especially considering that the Triple-A outfield already has Dylan Cozens, Roman Quinn and Nick Williams penciled in to start for the IronPigs.

\"Aaron Altherr has as good of tools as anybody in the major leagues. He can run, he's got a plus-arm, he's a well above average defender, he's got plus-power and he's got good hitting ability,\" said Mackanin, whose tone quickly changed. \"But this is a bottom line business, and at some point, you've got to put up numbers, and I think he's capable of doing it and I'm anxious to see if he can; I like him.\"

One scenario has Altherr and the three other Lehigh Valley outfielders rotating through the lineup and at times, serving as a designated hitter. If all goes well, Saunders, who recently signed with the Phillies as a free agent, could put up big first-half numbers and become a nice, juicy piece of trade bait. That move could open a spot for one of the Triple-A outfielders. Saunders had a nice season last year, but slumped badly in the second-half, hitting just .178 after the All-Star Game for Toronto.

http://www.scout.com/player/160324-aaron-altherr?s=309

Mackanin is well aware of Saunders' late season struggles, but shrugged it off in a recent conversation.

\"Most hitters are streaky, everybody goes through streaks. Some go through deeper streaks or deeper slumps more than other guys. Some guys go into a three-day slump and they break out of it, those are the good ones. A guy like Brandon Moss, who we were talking about, he just nosedived in September,\" noted Mackanin. \"The model of consistency is what we're looking for, guys who don't go into a prolonged slump and know how to get out of them. Guys who know how to get out of slumps and will maybe slap a couple of singles or bunt for a hit and not swing as hard to keep their average up, and that's the kind of guy you're looking for.\"

Whatever happens this season, Mackanin is looking forward to the mix of veterans and young players that his team will have to open the season.

\"I think it's a great mix this year, with the addition of those two [Kendrick and Saunders], and I like the additions in the bullpen [Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek] and then, in the rotation with [Clay Buchholz] Buchholz,\" said Mackanin. \"We've got five or six veteran players that we've added that I think are going to be helpful. They're going to look at our young players, our young players are going to look at them and I think they'll feed off of each other.\"

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