While the players may be the names that everyone knows, there are a lot of other people in an organization that play important roles. Some are seen and known, while others are rarely, if ever, in front of the press or even mentioned.
Our first annual list of the VIPs - Very Important Phillies - is not a list of greatness or a list of power. It's a list of importance, based on the jobs that need to be done and the people who are in charge of doing those jobs.
19. Davey Lopes - First Base Coach
One part of the Phillies attack that has been on the mark the past couple of seasons is their baserunning. In addition to serving as the team's first base coach, Davey Lopes also serves as their baserunning coach and it's a task that he's both enjoyed and excelled at in his time with the Phillies. In 2008 alone, the Phillies finished third in the National League in stolen bases and were successful on 84% of their attempts, compared to a league-wide average of 73%. Lopes has preached smart baserunning and has worked with the speedier of the Phillies to master not just how to steal bases, but when to steal them and, perhaps more importantly, when not to steal them.
20. Rich Dubee - Pitching Coach
It's all about the pitching and with some young guns working their way closer to the majors, Rich Dubee will become more and more important. He might have ranked a little higher, but there is some concern that he was unable to pull Brett Myers and Adam Eaton out of their slumps. Of course, nobody was able to right Eaton and Myers was more of a mental issue than anything else, but a good pitching coach knows how to attack those issues as well. Just ask Leo Mazzone. Among the pitching coaches in the National League, Dubee ranks somewhere from the middle up on the list of the best in the league. He gets the job done, but he's going to have to be even better than he's been with some young arms to contend with down the road.
21. Pat Gillick - Special Advisor to the GM
Yes, Pat Gillick is still around and yes, he still has some influence. The fact that David Montgomery was trying to talk Gillick into staying almost until the moment that Ruben Amaro was introduced as Gillick's successor says something. The fact that Montgomery then talked him into staying on as an advisor says even more. If you want to have importance to an organization, have the ear of the owner, which is exactly what Gillick has working for him. And if you don't believe that he's still an important part of the organization, ask Ruben Amaro who recommended new assistant GM Benny Looper.
22. Charley Kerfeld - Special Advisor to the GM
While he wasn't much of a pitcher, Charley Kerfeld has shown himself to be a very valuable part of the front office. Don't be surprised if in another year or two, somebody swipes him away to be an assistant GM or possibly, even a GM. He knows how to evaluate talent and knows what to look for in putting a team together. Kerfeld has slowly been given more important responsibilities and has increased his influence among Amaro and others in the front office. It was actually a little surprising that he wasn't given a full-fledged assistant GM title, but no matter the title, Kerfeld is going to be a part of key decisions in the Phillies front office.
23. Sal Rende - Minor League Hitting Coordinator
The Phillies farm system has produced a number of good players over the past few seasons, but most of the current top prospects are pitchers. Rende is the guy in charge of overseeing all of the young hitting prospects and in some cases, working individually with them to improve their approach at the plate. Just how far some of the younger position players advance will be determined by what Rende can do with them to get them ready for the higher levels of the minors. Because the Phillies have placed their draft emphasis on pitching, it's important that Rende can get the most out of the hitters that the Phillies bring into the organization for him to work with.
24. The Invisible Owners
Invisible doesn't mean silent, unless you mean publicly silent. There are very few people who know the faces or even the names of these folks, but they're there. Almost like a secret government black ops unit that exists, but is never really confirmed or denied by the government when they're asked about their existence. It's possible that you have walked right past one of them and not even known who they were and that's exactly the way these folks want it to be. Think of them as the voice on the speaker phone in Charlie's Angels, but know that they're not always as calm and approving as dear old Charlie. Oh, by the way, their names... Claire S. Betz, Tri-Play Associates (brothers Alexander K. Buck, J. Mahlon Buck, Jr., and William C. Buck), Double Play, Inc. (John S. Middleton) and Giles Limited Partnership (Bill Giles and Family). Now that we've told you, this article will self-destruct in five seconds... maybe.