Charlie Manuel will never be known as baseball’s supreme tactician, but at 21-15, his team is playing confident, winning baseball.
Beerleaguer likes to think of itself as one of the first Phillies voice, anywhere, to give Charlie Manuel credit last season, and it took nearly three-quarters of the season until I was ready to do it.
Today, I’d like to be one of the first voices, yet again, to give the man his due. Few believe Manuel is anything more than a lame duck, as the loudest voices are still drumming for his head. With new GM Pat Gillick in charge, considered the polar opposite of the jolly, charming Manuel, most are waiting for Manuel to work himself out of a job and for Gillick to hand-select his replacement.
The only problem: the Phillies are getting better, not worse. Frankly, they look like a playoff team.
I wondered last season, after Manuel’s boys had pulled themselves into the playoff hunt with the third-best record in the National League, why no member of the media, in print, on television or on radio, had ever sat down and talked to this man about Xs and Os.
I had the opportunity to do just that during the Winter Tour in January, and Manuel left a striking impression as a man that loves the game more than anyone in the organization. If I was a player, I’d love to play for Charlie Manuel.
Philadelphia’s small-town bias continues to be a total joke for a city that prides itself on progressive thinking. Isn't it about time to finally realize that a guy with a career record of 328-280 (.540) is not the disgraceful goon everyone thinks he is?
No. He wasn't part of the 1980 championship team. Yes. He's from North Fork, W.Va. Yes. He listens to George Thorogood and the Destroyers.
Yes. It's time to get over it.
I’m not sure what others look at, but the overriding factor should be results. The Phils are 21-15. They have won 12 of their last 13 games. They were picked by most to finish no higher than third in the division. They're getting outstanding production from a core of young players. Optimism is higher than it’s been in years.
Sure, Manuel has caused a large share of head-scratching moments, but the 15 losses and slow start this season are almost entirely due to two things: starting pitching and defense.
Once again, a slow start was thwarted by an unbelievable run of relaxed, confident ball. Manuel’s new lineup, featuring Chase Utley in the No. 2 hole, is precisely what the offense needed. Moving Ryan Franklin to the bullpen has also turned into a nice decision.
Perhaps more than anything, look at the number of young players that have come into their own during the Manuel era: Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Brett Myers, even a role player like Shane Victorino.
Still setting wagers on when Manuel gets the boot? You may want to start betting on whether Manuel can win manager of the year.