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Sunday, May 05, 2013

Is Charlie Manuel's job in jeopardy?

The one-time Yankee and Seattle Mariner Jim Bouton, author of "Ball Four," also wrote a book called, "I Managed Good, But Boy Did They Play Bad."  I thought of that title in the context of a line I once heard, perhaps from Whitey Herzog, or perhaps from a Jayson Stark or Buster Olney, that a good manager can win you perhaps 6-8 games and a bad one can lose you that many.  In many cases, you can be a great manager, but if you don't have the defense, don't have the hitters, don't have the pitching staff, it doesn't matter what moves you make because, well, you do not have the players.

Charlie Manuel wasn't as great a manager as they said he was when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, and he's certainly not as bad a manager as some are saying now.  He is, generally, a good manager, but in 2008 he had a bunch of peaking stars, many of whom lacked big contracts, and he helped maximize their effort with a weaker starting staff than he had in ensuing years but a better bullpen.  The team won 100 games in 2011, too, only to fall off the cliff last season when both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard missed most of the first half with injuries.   Even with that development, the team finished at .500.

But they Marlins have made them look bad two days in a row, and right now, as I write this, they are shellacking the Phillies 11-0.  This is a Marlins team that, were English Premier League soccer rules to apply, would have been relegated to the next league down.  But today, the Phillies are making them look like the '27 Yankees, or the Marlins are making the Phillies look like the '62 Mets.  Either analogy depresses the average Phillies' fan.

A few years ago, the team fired hitting coach Milt Thompson when they fell flat mid-season, only to rebound.  A few years later, they fired hitting coach Greg Gross.  Charlie's contract expires at the end of the season, but the team is lethargic, lacks a lot of zing, and perhaps a managerial change -- of one of the most popular managers or coaches in Philadelphia history -- is necessary to wake the team up.  I am not advocating this, but I wouldn't be surprised if the powers that be at Citizens Bank Park fire Manuel or GM Ruben Amaro or both.

A popular dance move right now is the Harlem Shake.

Something must be in Philadelphia's water, because each professional sports team has done its own version of the Philadelphia Slide.

Today's Phillies' game demonstrates that this one isn't electric.

It's radioactive.


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