SportsProf

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Friday, August 16, 2013

On the Phillies' Firing of Charlie Manuel

Here are some things to consider:

1.  Under GM Ruben Amaro, the team has declined, from a WS appearance in '09 to missing the playoffs in 2012.  Last time I checked, the GM and the front office selects the players, not the skipper.

2.  As I have written many times before, the team got progressively older under Amaro's tenure.  Apparently, his nickname among fellow GMs is Ruben "No Tomorrow" Amaro.  Statistics demonstrate that as team age, performance declines and players get more injured.  The Phillies' teams over the past several years have borne that out.

3.  When the Phillies won it all in 2008, they had almost no one under a big contract.  They gave a pretty good-sized deal to closer Brad Lidge, whose performance fell off the table.  Big contracts, long-term contracts, have hurt the Phillies.

4.  Had the Phillies won it all in '09 (and had Lidge not had the worst season in the history of closers, they might have) or in '11 (up 1-0 in the NLDS, Cliff Lee blew a 4-0 lead after one inning to the Cardinals, who got re-born and endued up winning it all), we might not have had this decision or conversation.  Two WS wins in five years smacks of a dynasty.

5.  Give Charlie Manuel credit.  When he got here, the press ridiculed him.  Daily News columnist Bill Conlin dubbed him "Elmer Befuddled" because of his West Virginia style.  By 2008, he was the most beloved skipper in Philadelphia since Dick Vermeil (who resurrected the Eagles when he arrived in the mid-1970's and was beloved).  He did a good job here.  Yes, he had some good players, but he helped get them to the top.  No one can take that away from him.

6.  Ryne Sandberg won't make much of a difference unless he has the players, the team gets younger and it can stay healthy.  I do not believe that the aging DP combo of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, both of whom have done a lot of good work in this town, will age well.  Their injury history is too vast.  Also, no one knows what the team will get out of a very disappointing/declining Ryan Howard.  Once he signed the big contract, that was it.  His case is not unique around the Majors, as many who have signed big contracts have not performed well.  Managers in baseball don't make nearly the difference as, say, NFL coaches, so the root cause of the Phillies' problems is not the manager.

7.  The team is negotiating a new TV contract, TV viewership is down, attendance is down, Carlos Ruiz was busted for Adderrall late last year and set-up man Antonio Bastardo was busted in the Biogenesis sting.  Roy Halladay has an iffy wing, Cole Hamels is having a bad year, Jonathan Papelbon says silly things and looks like he's in decline.  None of that is Manuel's fault.

8.  This decision is window dressing,  The Phillies want to get "younger," when they should have been doing so right after they won the WS.  Ironically, the decisions they made when they were on top came back to haunt them.  While Amaro gets credit for the Ibanez signing, the likable LF had one-half a good season in his three years in Philadelphia.  He got off to a great start and then had an overall terrible OBP, despite late-season clutch heroics for the Yankees last season and his defying time for the Mariners this season.  I've beaten that horse before, but the decisions were ownership's and Amaro's, and not Manuel's.

9.  For what it's worth. . . Manuel looks ten years younger at the press conference.

10.  Prediction:  He's the next manager of the Washington Nationals.  And he will lead them to victory in the World Series.

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