Will Charlie Manuel be forced to leave the Philadelphia Phillies when the 2013 season is over? Logically speaking, it’s not that improbable. The Phillies future 2013 performance aside, given Manuel’s age (69) and that this is the last year of his contract, he may choose to retire before he goes to another team. Win or lose, either the Phillies organization or Charlie Manuel have some thinking to do at seasons end.
Charlie Manuel is entering the last year of his contract this season, and the Phillies were never worse in his tenure than they were last season. Their offense was bad, occasionally unwatchable, and even when they had a lead it never felt safe, as the bullpen blew 12 leads in the 8th inning.
The fans felt misled about Chase Utley’s return from injury, and were disappointed with the ineffectiveness of the $20 million man, Ryan Howard, had those sentiments compounded by poor results. Utley and Howard are just two of a long list of disappointments, that include (but are not limited to): the bullpen, Chad Qualls, Cliff Lee’s run support, subpar minor league level depth and ineffective star power. The worst part wasn’t the record, which they barely salvaged to a respectable .500. The worst part was the feeling of hopelessness, the feeling that you knew what was going to happen before it did.
The team sorely disappointed everyone, but all that blame can’t be lumped entirely on Charlie. There are injuries, bad off-season acquisitions and disappointing individual seasons to take a lot of the blame off of Charlie, which is good because at the very least Charlie deserves one more chance.
Charlie is probably the best manager in Phillies history, and he holds the franchise record in wins (managers’ wins, unlike pitchers’ wins, actually measure something). He’s never been a strong public speaker, and often comes off like a hillbilly, but unlike that girl you met at the bar last night Chuck has a personality. And four division titles. It wasn’t the personality that earned him the adoration of the fan base, but it does turn him into somewhat of a folk hero. He probably hasn’t paid for a meal since he won the World Series.
That said, Manuel is getting up there in age at 69, and he has his ring. To come back there will have to be another contract negotiation. The last one was somewhat lengthy and stressful. There is a good chance that either way the team goes this season Manuel will call it quits.
Philadelphia memories are short. A slow start will get the fan base riled. Anything below a .500 record by June and the fans will start throwing around the ‘f’ word. Fired. Not that other ‘f’ word. By seasons end talk radio would be littered with a torrent of the same sentiment “First time caller, long time listener: I’ll always love him for the title, but its time for a change.”
If Charlie leads the Phillies to anything less than .500 I would expect Ruben Amaro to ask him to retire. If Charlie only slightly improves he will still be on the chopping block, but it would be closer to a 50-50 prospect that is dependent on how competitive they are with the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves. A playoff spot would probably earn him another year, should he want one, and another World Series ring would make him a Philadelphia god.
This team was always Charlie Manuel’s team. It seems appropriate that while the core group of Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz are still together, Charlie Manuel be their manager. Keep in mind next season its possible neither Utley nor Ruiz return.
The Phillies finished .500 last season when and they played terribly at times. Given the off-season acquisitions of Michael Young, Ben Revere, Mike Adams and to a lesser extent Delmon Young, the Phils must feel better about their chances. I feel that with an off-season of rest and recuperation for the aging stars, and the new pieces for Manuel to use, that if the Phillies finish with fewer than 81 wins, then its time to break up the band.
Charlie’s laid-back style won over the loyalty and respect of his players. The loyalty and respect of his players won him a World Series title. That World Series title won him the loyalty and respect of the fans. That loyalty and respect have earned him one more shot.