Rich Dubee, Ramon Henderson, Davey Lopes, Steve Smith, Milt Thompson, Jimy Williams and Mick Billmeyer have all had their contracts extended, according to a Phillies news release.
"I couldn't be happier with the job my coaches did this year," said manager Charlie Manuel. "Their hard work paid off in a big way when we won the division."
Dubee, 50, handled a club-record 28 different pitchers this past season with seven of them making their Major League debuts. The team also set a franchise record with nine different pitchers getting saves. Overall, Dubee guided the pitching staff through injuries to starting pitchers Adam Eaton, Cole Hamels, Jon Lieber and Freddy Garcia and relievers Tom Gordon, Ryan Madson, Brett Myers and Mike Zagurski, among others.
In his first season with the Phillies, the 62-year-old Lopes coached the club to the best stolen base percentage in Major League history. The team stole 138 bases -- second-best in the NL -- and was thrown out only 19 times, good for an 87.9 percent success rate. Both Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino finished in the NL's top 10 in both stolen bases and stolen base percentage. Lopes also oversaw the outfield defense. In 2007, the Phillies had 39 outfield assists, tops in the NL and second only to Tampa Bay among all Major League clubs. Aaron Rowand (11), Victorino (10) and Jayson Werth (9) all finished in the top 10 in the league in outfield assists.
For the second time in as many seasons, Thompson, 48, oversaw an offense that led the NL in runs. The team total of 892 was the most by any Phillies club since 1930, when they scored 944 runs. Also in 2007, the Phillies led the NL in triples (41), walks (641), slugging percentage (.458), extra-base hits (580), total bases (2,605) and times on base (2,289), while finishing second in home runs (213).
In addition to his bench coach duties as Manuel's second-in-command, the 64-year-old Williams also was in charge of the pitchers' hitting and bunting. Under his watch, the Phillies' pitching staff finished fourth in the NL with 51 hits, 22 more than the 2006 team (29), and led all NL staffs in runs scored (28). Their 39 sacrifice bunts was 10 more than the previous year (29).
For Henderson, 2008 will be his 11th season as a coach with the Phillies, the longest active streak in the NL East. For the third straight season, Henderson, 44, served as a pitcher for the Century 21 Home Run Derby during the All-Star break. Under Billmeyer's supervision, Phillies catchers threw out the third-most runners in the NL (31). Only the Dodgers (37) and Nationals (33) threw out more. Smith returns for his second season as third base coach and infield instructor.
Beerleaguer: Usually, one can count on plenty of fluff from these news releases, but this one, copied in its entirety, makes a solid case for the coaches.
As a spectator, it's difficult to get inside the team's inner workings, but stuff like base stealing, outfield play and bunting clearly improved over 2006. Davy Lopes was a tremendous hire. Absolutely spectacular. The Major League record for stolen base percentage is a true feather in his cap. For me, the most memorable thefts didn't come from usual suspects Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino. They were the two by Jayson Werth against the Mets in the final game of the four-game sweep. The senior correspondent and I were discussing them last night. Absolutely fearless - and that's what Lopes brought to the Phils, along with his guidance in the outfield.
I've never been as down on Dubee as some because I honestly don't know what to look for most in a pitching coach. I'd say he does an average job during the season, and a below average job recognizing talent during spring training.
From my vantage point, one of the biggest problems of the season was the pitcher and catcher getting together on bad pitches. Poor situational pitching. Those mistakes ultimately fall to Dubee, but I also understand he can't baby his players. It's a balancing act. The fact that the Phils keep retaining him says they're happy enough to keep him. The Phillies handed him the widest range of pitchers in baseball last season with fine results from the two young starters Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick. They milked a little something out of castoffs like Antonio Alfonseca and J.C. Romero. Should we be disappointed that Dubee couldn't make Major League pitchers out of guys like Brian Sanches and so on? Probably not.
Manuel gets most of the credit when it comes to the offense, but Milt Thompson must be doing something right, too. No one is complaining about the bats, and therefore, no one should complain about Milt.
Lastly, and on a positive note, the good thing you can say about the retention of third base coach Steve Smith is that he's a year wiser. He knows the team and knows the league. Now we need to see an improvement 90 feet from home.