In baseball the third base coach always seems to catch a lot of heat. According to the fans he never sends the runners enough or sends them only to be dead ducks at home plate. Sam Perlozzo, the Phillies third base coach since 2008, seemed to aggravate the Philly phaithful on a daily basis. One of the greatest moments of the 2010 season involved Perlozzo and Roy Oswalt in the NLCS when Oswalt unashamedly rebuked his coach’s decision and blew by Perlozzo’s stop sign to score the first run of the game in Game 2. With phan favorite Davey Lopes gone Perlozzo will move to first base and new addition Juan Samuel will coach third. Good luck Juan, you’re going to need it!
Juan Samuel should do well in Philly, a dream come true for him, considering he spent his first six seasons in the majors as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. Originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Phillies in 1980 Samuel earned Rookie of the Year honors from the Sporting News in 1984. He set a MLB rookie record that year with 72 stolen bases. In his hay day with the Phillies Samuel was proclaimed be “the fastest.” Looking at his track record for stealing bags I believe that Samuel would be more suited to coach first but that is ultimately up to Uncle Charlie to make that call. I think Charlie may be trying to save Perlozzo from any more abuse, but then again trying to fill the shoes of Davey Lopes is not going to be easy either. Manuel toted Lopes as the best base-stealing coach he’s ever been around.
Losing Lopes was a very disappointing move in my opinion and was obviously overshadowed in a Merry Cliffmas whirlwind of an off-season. In the four seasons Lopes was in charge of the Phillies’ base runners they led the Majors in stolen-base percentage. In 2007 the Phillies set a Major League record by stealing bases at an 87.9% rate. It’s a shame he had to go over a contract dispute. Lopes is a man who loved Philly, who even stated that he got more enjoyment out of winning the World Series in 2008 with the Phillies than he did as a player with the Dodgers. How can you not love a guy like that!?
So anyway enough crying over Davey and back to reality, and our new third base coach. Samuel’s playing days in Philly ended in 1989 when he was eventually traded midseason to the Mets, a trade that brought Lenny Dykstra to Philly. After his playing days ended in 1998 Samuel immediately got into coaching. Samuel has some previous third base coaching experience holding that position for the Detroit Tigers in 2005 and the Baltimore Orioles from 2006 until 2010 when he spent part of last year as the Interim manager replacing fired Dave Trembley. He was later replaced by Buck Showalter as manager.
It seems that every third base coach in the big leagues catches heat but with Samuel’s face adorned on the Phillies Wall of Fame it is safe to say he’ll be accepted fairly easily. With the Phillies coaching carousel an interesting one this year it will be intriguing to see how Perlozzo fairs at first and how Samuel does at third. Lopes was given so much freedom from Charlie to manage the base paths, I can’t imaging Perlozzo having that type of control.
Spring Training 2011 is less than a week away! The equipment is there, players are arriving, and coaches are ready to get it going. So here’s to the Phightin Phils’ and a 2011 title run, and to new third base coach Juan Samuel. He was originally signed by the Phillies at age 19 by Ruben Amaro, Sr. and now brought back by Ruben Amaro, Jr. Welcome home Juan.