Are the Phillies being unfair to Charlie Manuel?


Despite being the winningest manager in Phillies history, Charlie Manuel enters 2013 as a “lame duck.”  Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Manuel is the winningest manager in Phillies history as he enters his ninth season as the team’s skipper. Charlie Manuel helped to bring the first World Series to Philly since 1980. Charlie Manuel has done some incredible things in his nine seasons as the Phillies manager, leaving many to ponder whether he is the greatest manager in team history. Even with that debate, Manuel enters 2013 with only one season left on his contract, which almost seems unfair. This is a man who lead your team to a title, and has taken the ‘Fightins to the playoffs five times in eight years. All that I have said so far, I am about to turn 360 degrees on, because while I get that argument, it has holes.While Charlie Manuel has done incredible things as the manager of the Phillies, he certainly has flaws.

I will forever worship Charlie for the 2008 World title. But it is spring training 2013, and since that World Title, Charlie has stumbled a bit, and reminded those of us who kissed the ground he walked on after 2008, that he has some flaws. 2009, the Phillies didn’t hit, in addition to Brad Lidge and Cole Hamels having the worst seasons of their career, so that doesn’t go on Charlie. 2010, Charlie was badly out-managed and out-adjusted  by Bruce Bochey who was managing a Giants team led by Cody Ross and Aubery Huff. Cody Ross and Aubery Huff, and Charlie had Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, Jayson Werth, and Carlos Ruiz just to mention a few. While Bochey made brilliant, calculated moves such as bringing Tim Lincecum in as the setup man in the series clinching Game seven. And Charlie kind of sat back in 2010, and watched it all happen. Still they made the NLCS. In 2011 the story was much of the same as Charlie Manuel got out-managed and out-adjusted by Tony LaRussa, who beat the Phillies using guys like David Freese(who was not a household name at the time), Skip Shumaker, and Ryan Theroit. In 2012, the Phillies were hurt and fire-saled at the deadline, so it is hard to leave any blame on Manuel.

So essentially 2011 and 2012 reminded us that Charlie Manuel has done a very good job in his time here, but he has his flaws. And it is a fair to look at every season since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, they have taken a step back each year. So, yeah it is fair the Charlie is entering 2013 as a lame duck. What wouldn’t be fair? Well let’s go over a few scenarios. And remember Ryne Sandberg is the new bench coach and viewed as the air apparent to Manuel by many.

Scenario one: Charlie Manuel retires. Charlie is 69, and is entering the final season of his deal and this could very well be his swan song. However, given how defensive Charlie has been when asked about his contract in spring training, this scenario doesn’t seem very likely.

Scenario two: Phillies win the World Series, and Manuel wants an extension. In this scenario, then there is absolutely no excuse not to give Charlie an extension. Regardless of how good of a manger Ryne Sandberg may be, I have watched some disgustingly awful Phils baseball in my life. If Charlie delivers us two rings, then as far as I am concerned he has a lifetime contract.

Scenario three: Phillies miss the playoffs. I guess it all depends how it happens. If Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley miss the entire season, then I will have to re-evaluate at the end of the season. But at age 69, with one of the top five payrolls in baseball if you don’t go to the playoffs two years in a row, it may be time to move on. Not to mention having seen Ryne Sandberg manage the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs, I do believe that he will be a very good MLB manager.

Scenario four: Phillies go to the playoffs and lose in the NLDS or NLCS. This, out of the four scenarios, is the one we have to see play out before deciding. If the Phillies go to the NLDS and get swept and Charlie is out-managed like he was in 2011 or 2012, then I believe it will be time to go in another direction. If the Phillies lose a down to the ninth inning Game 7 in the NLCS, then I think Charlie should be welcomed back if he doesn’t retire. But again, we need to see it playout. The Phillies lost in Game 7 of the NLCS in 2010, and Charlie Manuel was still badly out-managed.

In the end only time will tell, whether the Phillies should bring Charlie back after 2013 or not. What I don’t want to see happen is the Phillies push the winningest manager in franchise history out the door before it is time. But I also don’t need to see the Phillies hold onto Charlie and damage his legacy in Philles history. The 2013 Phillies are a wait and see team, and Charlie Manuel is part of that wait and see.