Phillies trim some notable names from scouting staff amid COVID-related cost cuts

Jim Salisbury
·3 min read

Phillies trim some notable names from scouting staff amid COVID-related cost cuts originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

In a cost-cutting move, the Phillies have informed seven members of their scouting staff that their contracts will not be renewed when they expire at the end of this month, multiple sources from around baseball tell NBC Sports Philadelphia.

The list includes former manager Pete Mackanin and Dave Hollins, one of the heroes of the Phillies 1993 National League Championship club.

According to multiple sources, the team will also part with Howie Freiling, Jesse Levis, Jeff Harris, Mike Garcia and Chris Knabenshue.

Garcia and Knabenshue were both part of the amateur scouting staff, the group involved in identifying players for the draft. Garcia covered parts of California and Nevada. Knabenshue covered parts of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Mackanin, Hollins, Freiling, Levis and Harris all worked on the professional scouting side, a group that mines 29 other organizations, independent and foreign winter leagues for players that might be acquired in trades or through free-agent signings.

Mackanin's title was Special Assistant to the General Manager. He moved into that role in 2018, after former general manager Matt Klentak let him go as manager to clear the way for Gabe Kapler. Mackanin also coached and played for the Phillies in his long baseball career.

Hollins played 12 years in the major leagues, including seven with the Phillies. He hit 18 home runs, drove in 93 runs and made the NL All-Star team in 1993. Later that season, he clubbed a two-run home run against future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in the Game 6 win over Atlanta that propelled the Phillies to the World Series.

After his playing career, Hollins worked as a minor-league coach in the New York Mets system and a pro scout for the Baltimore Orioles. He returned to the Phillies as a special assignment scout in October 2009.

Freiling is a Philadelphia native. He played at Northeast High School and the University of North Carolina before playing and managing in the Mets system. He also scouted for that club. He joined the Phillies as a special assignment scout in November 2008.

Levis is also a Philadelphia native and product of Northeast High and the University of North Carolina. The former catcher played for parts of nine seasons in the majors with Cleveland and Milwaukee. He joined the Phillies pro scouting staff in 2011.

Harris joined the Phillies pro scouting staff in 2016. He pitched in the majors with Seattle and coached in the minors with Cleveland.

These cuts come at a time when the scouting industry has been hit hard by layoffs and cutbacks due to a changing baseball landscape. In recent years, many teams have brought their scouting operations into the office and relied on video and data to evaluate players. Experienced scouts who have dedicated their lives to the game have been replaced by younger, computer-savvy employees. While teams have saved money and gained efficiency with this approach, they've lost some of their soul because there's no replacing the wisdom, passion, instinct, work ethic, dedication and love of the game that a good scout brings.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a new and painful variable into how teams manage their baseball operations staffs. This week's reduction in the Phillies' scouting staff was not completely unexpected and more could be coming in other departments in the organization. Ownership is on record as saying it will lose over $100 million in revenue in 2020 because of COVID-19. Buyouts have been offered throughout the organization and employees have been told that layoffs are "inevitable."

Teams throughout baseball have had layoffs throughout the summer and fall. The Chicago Cubs recently laid off more than 100 employees.