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Larry Bowa: My 'No. 1 priority' is to remain with Phillies

Larry Bowa 2

Will Larry Bowa remain in the Phillies organization after the 2017 season concludes? (Frank Klose/SportsTalkPhilly)

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor  

General manager Matt Klentak said on Friday night's telecast that while the Philadelphia Phillies next manager could want to retain some of Pete Mackanin's current staff, he understands that not all the coaches are going to wait around for the that possibility. So he told them that as of Monday, they are all free-agents. 

That includes Larry Bowa, the team's bench coach, who is finishing up his 28th season as a member of the Phillies, having played, managed and coached across two stints for the Phillies. Bowa told the collective media Friday night, which included Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer, that he hopes he's involved with the organization in some role for a 29th season: 

“My No. 1 priority is to wear this,” Bowa said, raising the team emblem before heading to batting practice.

“This is my home. This is where I grew up. People recognize me as a Phillie,” Bowa said. “I just think that, I’m still, age-wise, what, 71, but you guys see me work everyday. I’m relentless when it comes to that. So if they have something in mind, I’m going to sit down and talk with them and see where it goes.”

Bowa did later admit that if nothing surfaces, he would be willing to look at other opportunities. But you get the sense that after just missing out on the last great era of Phillies baseball, he would prefer to remain with the organization for the next potential playoff run. Exactly what role he would fill is unclear. 

It's entirely possible that the next Phillies manager will be interested in Bowa as a potential bench coach or base coach. It's more likely that the next coach, who many expect to be more analytically driven, won't want to retain Bowa on his staff, because Bowa admitted earlier this year that he thinks the game today relies too much on sabermetrics

What we also don't know is how keen Klentak is on Bowa. In his discussion on sabermetrics, which he had in May with Mike Missanelli of 97.5 The Fanatic, he did seem to contradict a public statement made by Klentak on Maikel Franco: 

Klentak on Franco on May 30: No, and we are committed to giving Maikel more time to get out of this. We believe in him, we have confidence that he will. There's a lot of indicators, whether you are looking at his exit velocity and his launch angles. Again, I don't want to say that he's been a victim of bad luck by itself, that's not the only thing. But there are reasons to believe that he may get out of this. And that could happen today, it could happen tomorrow, it could happen next week -- we don't know. But we are committed to showing confidence in this kid and finding out what he can do, and that's really the end of it. Right now, he's important to us and we need to show confidence in him and let him go out and play. 

Bowa on Sabermetrics on June 29: We've had guys that have gone backwards this year. The industry -- when I say the industry I'm talking about the entire baseball industry -- I think we are getting caught up in velocity off the bat, spin ratio from the pitcher, hitting in bad luck. To me, these have nothing to do with winning and losing. You need character, you need guys that are fighters - sabermetrics do not measure that. I do not care what organization it is, you need to get guys that are going to stick their nose in the dirt, that are going to battle tooth-and-nail for 27 outs, nine innings, and the game has changed so much that everything is centered around the sabermetrics part of the game. And, I agree there are certain things about sabermetrics that are very helpful for the industry, but when you put together a team and you concentrate 100 percent on spin ratio, exit velocity, hitting in bad luck - I never heard of that, hitting in bad luck. Over the course of 162 games, Mike, everything evens out.

The next manager likely won't be told that Bowa can't stay on his staff, but it is possible that a decision is made that not retaining him on the coaching staff would be the best course of action. 

Regardless of how the current front-office may or may not feel about Bowa, he's a Wall of Famer and beloved in Philadelphia. If he's not on the coaching staff, the Phillies will find a role for him, perhaps making him a special advisor to the general manager, just like Charlie Manuel is and Mackanin is about to become. That role is purposely vague, so it's unclear how much of a voice Bowa would really have in said role. 

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Prior to re-joining the Phillies in 2014, Bowa worked as an analyst for the MLB Network, and was quite good at it. Analyst jobs aren't as easy to come by these days, but perhaps he could stay around the game by returning to a role like that. Perhaps he could split time with Larry Andersen in the radio broadcast booth next season, as Andersen scales back his role. Or maybe another team will have interest in the 71-year-old joining their coaching staff. 

What we do know is that there is a very real possibility that Sunday afternoon's season finale is the final time Bowa is in an on-field role for the Phillies. Bowa won't stop being around baseball, but he may not have as much of a role in it as he has for much of the past half century. 


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