Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports that former MLB skipper and current Giants advisor Dusty Baker is slated to interview for the Phillies’ managerial opening.
The Phillies parted ways with manager Gabe Kapler last week after the team finished the 2019 season with an 81-81 record, good for second-to-last place in the NL East division. Unsurprisingly, the organization is seeking a skipper that can help shepherd the team through a winning season and a playoff run; as GM Matt Klentak told reporters on Friday, “We’re looking for someone who’s going to appreciate the staff we have and the things that we do, and come in and take us over the finish line because that’s what this is really about. This is about wins and losses and getting us where we want to be — and that’s playing in October, competing for a championship.”
Baker, 70, certainly has the experience for the job, albeit not as much postseason success as the Phillies would like. He served four separate stints with the Giants, Cubs, Reds, and Nationals from 1993 to 2017, amassing a lifetime 1863-1636 record, 14 winning seasons, and seven division titles. He also oversaw nine separate postseason campaigns, though his questionable managerial decisions factored into a number of significant losses along the way.
While the Phillies haven’t explicitly targeted any other potential candidates, it’s assumed that they’ll interview other well-traveled managers like Buck Showalter, Joe Girardi, and John Farrell, as well a number of internal candidates. The Giants, meanwhile, not only gave the Phillies permission to speak with Baker, but are said to be talking to a familiar name themselves:
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.
The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.
In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.
The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.
We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.