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Charlie ManuelHere’s what Philly Daily News columnist Bill Conlin had to say about the Phillies’ decision to sign Charlie Manuel to a two-year extension:

Had Charlie still been quacking in the background if George Steinbrenner decided to spring the trapdoor on the most successful Yankees manager since Casey Stengel, there would have been a tidal wave of insistence that the Phillies’ shakers and movers at least pick up the phone and see what Joe has to say. After all, we’re talking – and mind you, we’re just talking some ball business – Joe Flippin’ Torre here. We’re not talking Joe Girardi or Jim Leyland or any of the fortysomethings who are about to replace the pastime’s old guard. This is a guy whose team averaged 96.7 wins in the 11 full seasons he managed (Joe’s battle with prostate cancer cost him 35 games in 1999), not to mention four World Series rings, six pennants and 12 postseason appearances in 12 years. Joe has always liked the Phillies and the city. But, what’s done is done. The players’ benevolent security blanket will be shambling to the mound for two more seasons, stubborn as a Missouri mule and unshakable in his belief that “I know everything about baseball.”

That was Conlin’s defense of the Phils’ decision to re-sign Manuel, from his column titled, “Phils wisely act swiftly on skipper.” Talk about a backhanded compliment. If I didn’t know better, I’d think Conlin would actually prefer to see Joe Torre managing in Philly in 2008.

And I’ll tell you what, I don’t think Conlin is the only one. The Philly media (I’m looking at you Howard Eskin, you little dweeb) rode Manuel’s back all season long. They called him incompetent. They called him dumb. They wanted him gone.

But then a crazy thing happened. The Phils made the playoffs. And sure, it had just as much to do with the Mets’ historic collapse as with the Phils’ solid play, but whatever. Philly fans said all along that all they ever wanted was to make the playoffs. And Manuel got the team to the playoffs. So how do you fire the guy?

You can’t. You don’t.

Chaaaaaaaaaaaarlie.

So the Phillies signed him for two more years. Really, they didn’t have a choice.

But that doesn’t mean that Manuel will get a free pass from the Philly media in 2008. We live in a “what have you done for me lately” world, and philly is the ultimate “what have you done for me lately” town. As soon as the Phils struggle, the radio talk show hosts will jump all over Manuel.

This season (and last), they said, “we could have had Leyland.”

Next season, they’ll say, “We could have had Torre.”

It’s gonna be a long two years, Charlie. Glad they’re paying you well.

11 Responses to “Does Philly really want Manuel back?”

  1. Can you say Howard Eskin?!

    That guy HATES Manuel. With a passion.

  2. I did say Howard Eskin. I called him a dweeb.

  3. The guy needs to be fired if for no other reason than for putting probably the best pitcher on the team in the bullpen. He nearly cost the Phils a playoff spot on that move alone.

  4. Coley Ward says:

    gej, generally, I agree with you. A team shouldn’t put its best starter in the bullpen.

    But I think this season might be the exception. I honestly don’t think the Phils would have survived this season with Antonio Alfonseca at closer. I think there might have been a riot.

  5. I gotta admit, I’ve come around on Charlie. I’m glad we (and when I say “we,” I mean, “me & the Phillies”) resigned him.

    Imo, there isn’t a manager alive that could’ve done a better job with the pitching staff this year. His southern drawl and “Good Time Cholly” demeanor has grown on me to the point where I find myself outwardly defending the guy in conversations.

    But Conlin is right. If the Phils woulda waited until some “better” managerial candidates became available there would’ve been fans storming The Bank with pitchforks & torches.

  6. Coley,

    I understand your thought process, but a team wants its best pitchers to throw the most innings in order to help the team. If Charlie had (become the best/most savvy manager in the game) and used Myers in the highest leverage positions regardless of the inning, I would agree with you. This is not really an apples/apples comparison, but Cleveland made the ALCS with Joe Borowski as the closer.

  7. Coley Ward says:

    Dude, I absolutely agree that a team generally wants its best pitchers pitching the most innings. But I’m telling you, if the Phils had kepts pitching Alfonseca in the ninth, or Madson, or whoever, there would have been hell to pay. The media would have trashed the management. The players would have started complaining publicly about the bullpen. It would have been a completely negative environment and the wheels would have fallen off the wagon.

    I think the Myers situation was the exception to the rule.

    But that having been said, I’d like to see Myers back in the rotation next season. I think it’s easier to find good, young bullpen arms than starters. A rotation with Myers, Hamels, Moyer, Lohse and Kendrick is something to look forward to.

    And a bullpen with Gordon, Romero, and maybe somebody like Octavio Dotel might not be half bad.

  8. Sarah Green says:

    For the record, I’m still on the fence about never moving Papelbon back to the rotation, which the Red Sox were planning on doing until the middle of spring training this year. I will be interested to see how Joba Chamberlain responds to starting next year in New York. With his fastball and the Yankees’ lineup, I’m sure he’ll have 15 wins easy.

  9. Brett Myers has said on numerous occaisions that he really enjoys coming out of the bullpen, so why not keep him there? I know, “do what’s good for the team” yada yada, but the Phillies have most of the rotation set with a few possibilities.

    1. Hamels

    2. Kendrick (they may make him start in AAA to work on another pitch if they find themselves in good shape in the rotation)

    3. Moyer

    4. Eaton

    5. Curt Schilling? Carlos Silva? Trade for Dontrelle Willis or Joe Blanton?

    If the Phillies get jack squat this offseason, which I doubt given their expanded payroll, then moving Myers into the rotation makes perfect sense, but otherwise, keep him in the role in which he’s most happy and thus most likely to perform at a high level most of the time.

    As for Manuel, I believe that managers generally have little impact on the outcome of a game from a strategical standpoint, so I don’t view his in-game blunders as negatively as everyone else. And I am not a big backer of the “intangibles” of the game, either, but I agree with Meech that the only manager that could’ve pulled the Phillies through their 4-11 start and their 7-game deficit with 17 games to go was Charlie Manuel.

    And besides, isn’t Joe Torre just a more expensive version of Manuel? Laid back, a player’s manager, not the best in-game tactician, etc. I guess I wouldn’t have complained if Joe Girardi ended up being in charge of the team, but I’m very content seeing Manuel come back.

  10. Bill and Meech, don’t you think Manuel deserves as much blame for the team’s 4-11 start as he does credit for their amazing comeback?

  11. Well, the first two games of the season they lost in heart-breaking fashion.

    On opening day, I guess you could say that he shouldn’t let Myers pitch the 8th inning, but he did easily retire the first two hitters before allowing the game-tying solo home run to Edgar Renteria. Ryan Madson gave up a 2-run home run to Renteria in the 10th, but I don’t know how you can fault Manuel for Madson’s poor pitching.

    In the second game, Manuel brought in Gordon, then the closer, to pitch the 9th inning with a 2-0 lead, and promptly gave it up on a double by Jeff Francoeur and a home run by Brian McCann. He brought in Madson in the 9th and let him come out to pitch the 10th, and Scott Thorman hit a go-ahead solo homerun, so you could argue that he shouldn’t have used Madson again.

    The third game was just Adam Eaton being Adam Eaton — 7 runs in 4.2 innings.

    April 7 was just a bad start by Brett Myers.

    April 8 was a poor start from Zack Segovia.

    April 9 was that infamous bullpen meltdown by the Phillies. Matt Smith, Geoff Geary, and Jon Lieber combined to give up 8 runs (5 earned) in two innings.

    April 12 was just a typical loss that you can’t really pin on anyone. Moyer gave up 4 runs (3 earned) in 6 innings and the Phils lost 5-3.

    April 13 was another poor start from Brett Myers.

    April 17 was a loss due to a lack of offense (8-1 Mets). The pitching was bad, too: Garcia gave up 3 runs in 4.2 innings, and the bullpen gave up 5 runs in 4.1 innings.

    April 18 was a 13-inning 5-4 loss to the Nationals. The winning run was given up by Francisco Rosario, after Manuel had already exhausted Smith, Geary, Myers, Alfonseca, and Madson.

    April 20 was a pitcher’s duel between Jon Lieber and then-Red Kyle Lohse, which the Phillies lost 2-1 because Tom Gordon gave up both the tying and winning runs in the 9th and 10th innings, respectively. I guess you can argue that Gordon shouldn’t have pitched the 10th, although Manuel had already exhausted Geary, Smith, Alfonseca, and Myers.

    So, that’s 2, maybe 3 of the 11 losses that you may be able to pin on Manuel if there’s solid evidence that his decisions were not the best.

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