After a shaky first half of the season, the Philadelphia Phillies actually looked like they had a chance to maybe get back into the NL East title conversation. In fact, when the season broke for the All-Star Game, the Phillies were just 6.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves for the division lead.
But then, it was like the switch flipped and for the Phillies, who had been treading water in advance of a make-or-break series against the Braves, completely imploded as their tough schedule got the best of them. Now after eight straight losses and an 11-game deficit to overcome in the NL East, the Phillies have all but officially sunk.
The team has decided to become sellers, which should come as no surprise to anyone. What is perhaps surprising, however, is that neither Ruben Amaro Jr. nor Charlie Manuel seem to be in danger of losing their jobs anytime soon.
Manuel has been regarded the best manager the Phillies have ever had. He has the most managerial wins and is in the company of just Dallas Green as managers to win a World Series with the team. At season’s end, however, Manuel’s contract will expire.
Since 2008, the Phillies have gotten progressively worse and while all of that can’t be blamed on the skipper, he has been known to make some poor in-game decisions this season and in seasons past. Plus, Manuel is in his 70s and his successor has been all but named, as everything indicates that the Phillies will turn to third base coach, Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg.
As for Amaro, it would certainly seem that he has worn out his welcome with fans.
Having inherited a championship-caliber team with great expectations, there is no reason that the Phillies should be five years removed from a World Series, and also be absolutely falling apart and ready to trade the remaining players from that core.
Amaro’s biggest blunder was perhaps when he traded Cliff Lee in the midst of the 2010 season. While the Phillies got him back and it all worked out in the end, it leaves one to wonder if the 2010 NLCS would have ended just a bit differently if both Lee and Roy Halladay were on the same team.
And since assembling the “Four Aces”, Amaro’s free agency and trade moves have been heavily questioned. A willingness to sign over-the-hill or washed-up guys such as Delmon Young and Michael Martinez, while dumping massive amounts of money into singular contracts like the deals for Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon, could prove to be his undoing.
When a team loses and is not performing up to expectations, the first guy to go is normally the hitting coach. So when either Steve Henderson or Wally Joyner get the axe, don’t be surprised if Manuel or Amaro (or even both), are the next to go.
If this team is in full rebuild mode as they really should be, then this is exactly the direction that needs to be taken.