The Phillies have brought an end to Rich Dubee’s nine-year tenure as pitching coach.
They made the announcement Monday morning that Dubee would not have his contract renewed. It comes hardly as a surprise considering the Phillies have a new manager in Ryne Sandberg and are coming off a season where the pitching staff ranked 14th in the National League in ERA, with some of the decisions and lack of progress focused on the pitching coach.
Dubee was stridently back by veteran pitchers like Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. In Halladay’s case, it’s no wonder : Dubee was complicit in keeping Halladay’s back issues last season from view, and this year Dubee continued to give an overabundance of leeway to the right-hander as he pitched with a hurt shoulder and stomach problems. Halladay had four starts in the opening 32 days of the season where he was pummeled so badly the team had no shot to compete behind him. That deference showed a wiliness to put Halladay ahead of what was right for the pitching staff and the team, and even if the front office wrongly supported that decision, Dubee had the tenure and expertise to be the one to have the organization reconsider it.
Dubee’s other fatal flaw was his inability to get much out of the young relievers the Phillies banked on filling out their bullpen entering this season. Not one of the young relievers showed a great deal of promise during spring training, with hard-throwing right-hander Phillippe Aumont becoming completely unraveled in the process. By the time guys like Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus and B.J. Rosenberg started to have their talents begin to pay dividends, the season was long lost.
Those are the reasons Dubee is out. However, he deserves credit for being there as Halladay won a Cy Young and finished second another year, Cliff Lee continued to thrive into his mid-30s, and Hamels remained one of the top left-handers in the game. He also took a mediocre starting rotation and unheralded bullpen in 2008 and helped it delivered a World Series title to the city.
A replacement for Dubee has yet to be determined, but Rod Nichols, who had been a longtime and well-regarded minor-league pitching coach in the minors for the Phils, kept a low-profile as the bullpen coach for the Phils this season and will be under consideration for the gig.