When Matt Klentak joined the Colorado Rockies as an intern in 2003, the first general manager he dealt with was MLB analyst Dan O’ Dowd. The longtime Rockies GM, who called the shots for Colorado from 1999 to 2014, chatted with Metro to discuss Klentak, note what the Phillies should do next season and discuss how the future looks for Pete Mackanin’s team.
You’ve known Matt Klentak for a long time. How good of a fit is he for the Phillies as general manager?
Matt is a very good choice for a number of reasons. Matt is very smart but he doesn’t try to be the smartest guy in the room like a lot of young people have to be but that’s not him since he’s a secure guy. He’s a very patient guy andhe’s steady. That’s something the Phillies need. Matt is also a very good collaborator and is a good listener. I can see why the Phillies selected him as their GM.
How do the Phillies look right now?
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I think they’re looking better thanks to the deals that Ruben (Amaro) made last year. The Phillies future looks bright. But what they should do this offseason is be patient and play their young players.
Speaking of Ruben, what do you make of him accepting a first base coach gig with the Red Sox?
I always thought Ruben wanted to be in uniform. After you play for a number of years in major league baseball, like he did, you don’t feel that same rush when you’re a general manager.
The trade he made, which was most impressive, appears to be the Rangers deal.
Exactly. What was great about that trade is that it was a good old fashioned baseball trade. It helped both teams. I saw lot of those kids the Phillies acquired and they are impressive. The young catcher (Jorge Alfaro) has a lot to learn defensively but he’s a tremendous athlete. He would be a good reason to keep Carlos Ruiz around, to help with his development. Nick Williams has a lot of talent. Jake Thompson could be an impact starter and I like (Jerad) Eickhoff, who could be a starter too. I’m not saying that all four are going to be starters for the Phillies but they very well could be and that would make that an outstanding trade for the Phillies. If Thompson or Eickhoff could be in the rotation next season or 2017 with (Aaron) Nola, that’s two or three fifths of a very young rotation.
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The guy I’m most impressed with is Williams, who has about as much potential as J.P. Crawford. Who do you compare Williams to?
He reminds me of CarGo (Carlos Gonzalez). He’s an athletic corner outfielder with a bat. He looks like he has the chance to be a 30-plus homer guy.
Aaron Altherr played so well in August and September that he deserves a long look next spring.
I agree completely. He can hit, run and play defense.
Ken Giles has been bandied about as a trade chip. Would you deal him?
A general manager’s job is to always listen. I always had an ear open when I was with the Rockies. If a team is willing to overpay for someone, then maybe you make a deal involving Giles. If someone tries to blow the Phillies away with an offer for Giles, well you better listen. If they will not overpay, keep him. He’s young, controllable for years and looks like he’ll be a really good closer for a long time.
Is Pete Mackanin the right choice as Phillies manager?
I think he’s perfect for the Phillies since Pete Mackanin is one of the best teachers in the game. He’s great with clubhouse culture. He’s perfect for the kids on that team.
Mackanin appears to be the type of manager the talented but immature Odubel Herrera needs.
I think Pete is a perfect match for Herrera, who is so talented. Herera is one of the best Rule 5 Draft picks ever, going back to Kelly Gruber. He’s an electric player. The key to his success is adjusted mental focus. Can he control his emotions? I’m really encouraged by what I saw from him last season. He played a good center field and he made adjustments at the plate during the second half after pitchers made adjustments to him.
Do you think there’s any chance Klentak can move Howard or will he just embrace the final year of the Big Piece in Philadelphia?
I don’t think there is much Matt can do there in terms of a trade. I think he’ll be smart enough to embrace Howard and ride the storm out. First off, Howard isn’t blocking some young first baseman. Play him next year and realize that Howard has had a fantastic career. His career numbers are very impressive. I don’t see him leaving Philadelphia. Howard will be part of things for the Phillies next year but so will an impressive group of kids like (Maikel) Franco, who is for real. You have Franco, Herrera, Nola, Altherr and Giles. That’s a pretty good group to start with. The Phillies will add some players with free agency. They need to run with their youth and see where it leads them.