Charlie Manuel developed a reputation for being set in his ways over the years. When it came to the Philadelphia Phillies‘ lineup, unless injuries were in play, everyone knew where certain guys were going to hit. This year, that’s going to change.
I know what people think: “Cholly” will bat Jimmy Rollins first, Chase Utley third, Ryan Howard fourth and so on. But, Manuel knows that he needs to make the playoffs this season. With whatever develops during the last year on his contract, this man has pride and he wants to go out a winner. That’s if he does go out, by the way.
We must consider that half of the Phillies’ starting eight (it’s five-eighths if you include fill-in Erik Kratz) players are different than last season.
Ben Revere will play center field. Darin Ruf will start, or platoon in left field. Domonic Brown is being offered another shot in right field, because Delmon Young appears likely to start the season on the disabled list. Michael Young is the new third baseman.
Each of these players give the Phillies’ skipper different options than he had last season.
Manuel may decide to keep Rollins in his traditional leadoff spot to start the season. If “J-Roll” sputters in April, don’t be surprised if Revere replaces him.
Young is a candidate to fill the two-hole that Placido Polanco formerly occupied. If the former Texas Rangers‘ icon seems more apt to hit behind Howard, than Revere might hit first and Rollins would switch to the second slot.
Carlos Ruiz should initially replace Kratz in the eighth spot when he returns from his 25-game suspension. If “Chooch” is able to produce at anywhere near last season’s level, he might hit behind the “Big Piece” again.
Yes, “Chuck” has had good luck with deep offensive teams in the past. This year Manuel will see that he has a decent, yet flexible, bunch. My hunch is that he leads this pliant squad into the postseason ball.