Charlie Manuel was the right guy to get them there. Is he the right man to keep them there?
The players talk about wiping the slate clean. The same applies to World Series-winning managers. It wouldn't feel like April if there weren't charges levied against Cholly, who called out his club again after yesterday's game, this time criticizing his hitters for being too defensive at the plate. This follows comments earlier in the week regarding complacency among certain players. Admittedly, the Phillies are in a unique situation, having won the title and forced to deal with a short offseason. Celebrity can take its toll, and it did. Cole Hamels, their most important starter, confessed that preparation was pushed aside, and there are undoubtedly more cases like his.
But at what point does the finger pointing include Manuel? Once again, the Phillies held a distraction-filled spring training and started the season unprepared. The only difference is that Manuel has been quick to admit this publicly, rather than the "We gonna hit" approach of past seasons.
Think back to just five seasons ago. The Phillies were seen as a talented club that lacked confidence and leadership. They played tight, constantly. But during Manuel's tenure, things changed. They became less tentative, and more aggressive. National writers, like Jayson Stark, praised the leadership that was naturally allowed to develop under an easy-going Manuel. But true leadership, from players and management alike, will be severely tested this season. Motivating players to perform better is easier when the goal hasn't been reached. Asking more contradicts six months of back patting. Who will be the first to step up, and shouldn't this task always default to the manager?
This is uncharted territory, and we're about to find out if Manuel is hardwired to handle it.
Hamels update: It's good news for the Phillies ace following yesterday's line drive off his shoulder. It's just a flesh wound, and he may not miss his next start, according to reports.