Yesterday saw the second rule violation from Jimmy Rollins, just days after a fly ball, no-hustle play over the weekend, the same reason he was benched on June 6. Does it pay for Charlie Manuel to be such a stickler?
If winning is the desired effect, there’s some evidence to the contrary that the strong arm of the law hasn’t worked for Sheriff Manuel this season. Since J-Roll's first benching, the Phillies have gone 19-22. A handful of players have struggled, including J-Roll (.250/.332/.415), Chase Utley (.243/.322/.414.), Carlos Ruiz (.189/.333/.257) and Geoff Jenkins (.143/.221/.299). Highest average during this span, if you ignore ABs, would be So Taguchi's .364. That's .75 points higher than your first regular, Jayson Werth (.289).
It isn't just performance. There's been dissention in the ranks. We've read the reports about Cole Hamels' disapproval of his handling after the All-Star break. We've read about Pat Burrell's displeasure over being taken out of games early. Yesterday, J-Roll became the latest player to publically denounce a Manuel decision. Jamie Moyer would then defend it.
It’s not to say the offense has been weakened by a dictatorship. Much of this can be laid at the feet of Brett Myers and Adam Eaton, and a lot of it has to do with the quality of the opposition. But if playing the game right, performance and winning were the desired effect from that first J-Roll benching, it hasn’t happened for Manuel’s second-place club.
Better to keep it in-house? On the subject of artificial motivators, it worked in the past at least once. Last season, after the Phils started 4-11, they held a team meeting before a game in Cincinnati. Team leaders, including Moyer, Aaron Rowand and Utley, reportedly spoke out. They turned it around.
One of Manuel's greatest traits is that he's been able to keep problems inside the clubhouse. By all accounts, he's balancing many different personalities. Writers connected to the team maintain he's the only man who could make it work. In his fourth season, some of those seals are starting to crack.