For Davey Lopes it was probably a precedent thing. He could have stayed and made, by his own admission, pretty good money in his familiar first base coaching box in Philadelphia. But instead Lopes informed the team that he would not return to the club he proved essential to for a fifth season.
Lopes reasoning for leaving is fascinating though. Money.
The former master thief, who transitioned into one of the games all-time great baserunning coaches told CSNPhilly.com that he was being undervalued by the Phillies. He said he wasn’t asking for a lot, but the team and Lopes couldn’t agree on his worth.
Very rarely do you hear of an assistant coach, or less, a first base coach, leaving a team because the two sides can’t agree on money. The bottom line is in the grand scheme of things they don’t make that much. A few hundred thousand, which to the teams is loose change. If an organization thinks they are of value, they generally find a way to agree on a number. If they think they can get the same product at a better price then they don’t bring the guy back. That’s the business of the game.
But Davey Lopes undeniably brought value to the table. He taught a bunch of fast guys how to use their deadliest weapon. He brought his own art, that of the steal, and instituted a system that worked so well the turnaround was simply incredible. In all four seasons under Lopes’ watchful eye, the Phillies led the league in steal percentage. The 87.9% success rate the team posted in 2007 still stands as a major league record.
So why squabble over a few thousand dollars with someone who brings as much value to your team as Lopes does? Just a week earlier you payed JC Romero a quarter million simply to go away. You’re telling me you don’t have the cash to keep a guy like Davey Lopes on your staff?
I get that this is a business. I understand you have to draw the line somewhere. But is this really where you want to put it? This to me screams a loosing attitude up top. It tells your players, your other coaches and your fans that you know just what Davey Lopes brought to the table, you recognize him as a major part of your 2008 championship team, yet refuse to budge on a figure, that while not disclosed, is pretty safe to say the guy earned.
When a team starts to make decisions like this, you have to question their attitude. I don’t see a win first mentality here. While it’s too early to tell, the Davey Lopes move, or lack there of, may start what we were on the brink of calling a dynasty’s unceremonious fall from the upper-echelon of baseball.
Bring on the Bo?
According to a report by Randy Miller of Calkins Media, Larry Bowa is intrigued by Lopes’ departure and says he would certainly consider a return to Philadelphia, where he still lives and considers home, to join Charlie Manuel’s staff as third base coach and de facto clubhouse bad-cop, a role he did well under Torre.
Bowa said he’ll wait for the team to call and would like to return to baseball under the right circumstances, and says Philly would certainly fall into that category. Sam Perlozzo is signed through next season, but could slide to first to fill the void left by Lopes.
Bowa would not necessarily come cheap though, so if the precedent the team has set is that it doesn’t value assistant coaches, a return for the fan-favorite Bowa would be unlikely.