An important contributor to the Phillies’ success over these past five years is moving on. This has been the most successful era of baseball in Phillies franchise history – including four National League East championships, three NLCS appearances, two World Series berths and one 2008 championship. This doesn’t splash on the front page, but could be a significant loss.
Davey Lopes, the Phils’ first-base coach from 2007-10, told the media on Monday he has informed team officials he will not return to the club in 2011. Lopes, 65, had been offered a one-year contract, but the two sides weren’t able to agree on a salary. Numbers weren’t disclosed but it can be safely presumed that Lopes was asking for significantly less money than Jayson Werth.
“We just had a difference of opinion on what I felt my worth was,” Lopes said by telephone interview. “That’s all. It was a really tough decision because I loved my time in Philadelphia, I loved working for [manager] Charlie Manuel, and I have the utmost respect for everyone in that organization.
“I got more enjoyment out of winning that World Series in 2008 than I did the one I won with the Dodgers as a player. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed my time in Philadelphia. I am really going to miss the atmosphere and the passion. The fans were great to me. I went from being a bad guy, a Dodger, to someone they really embraced – part of the family. I really appreciate that.” Phils general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., was scouting the Arizona Fall League when he learned of Lopes’ decision on Monday.
“I found out about Davey’s decision today, and clearly we are disappointed that he will not be a Phillie next season,” Amaro said in a statement. “We were hopeful that he would have remained with us as he did a fine job with our baserunners and our outfielders for the last four years. Going forward, we will immediately begin a search for his replacement.”
Lopes refused to say how far apart he and the club were in terms of compensation but it would be reasonable to assume the discussion was a difference of thousands of dollars not millions.
“Believe me, I wasn’t looking to break the bank,” Lopes commented, refusing to say exactly how far apart he and the club were in terms of compensation. “They made a good offer. I just think sometimes you get pigeonholed as a first-base coach, and I view my situation differently than other first-base coaches in that I had a lot more responsibility than that. I guess you could say it’s a principle type thing. But I move on without hard feelings. My time in Philadelphia was great.”
Lopes, who was brought in as part of a coaching staff overhaul after the 2006 season, oversaw outfield play and base-running for the Phils. Under Lopes – a former NL stolen base champ – the Phillies led the league in stolen-base percentage four straight seasons. In 2007 the club set a major-league record of 87.9 percent when it was successful on 138 of 157 attempts.
“They were good for me, and hopefully I added something to their careers,” Lopes said of the Phillies players. “You can’t do anything without good players.”
The rest of the Phils’ coaches have been offered contract extensions for 2011 and it is believed that they all will return. Manuel’s contract runs through 2011, but he expects to receive an extension this winter
Lopes, who lives in San Diego, would like to remain in baseball and will look for work with a West Coast team. Speculation would include the Dodgers who sport Joe Torre and Manager-elect Don Mattingly on their coaching staff.
“I’m hoping something pops up,” he said. “If I’m not in uniform next year, it won’t be much fun.” There is no indication that health concerns are an issue for Lopes.
Possible replacements for Lopes as first base coach include former Phillies Juan Samuel, Mariano Duncan, Ryne Sandberg and John Russell. Samuel has solid coaching experience and interim managerial experience with Baltimore. Russell was recently relieved as Pittsburgh’s manager but is a sound baseball man. Lopes’ contributions with the baserunning and infield coaching will be sorely missed. Another rumor circulating is that former Phillies player, coach and manager Larry Bowa may return to Philadelphia’s coaching staff while Sandberg is likely to fill the vacancy at AAA Lehigh Valley.
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org