Charlie Should Finish 2013

Photo by Richard Wilkins Jr.

I've been a huge proponent of this team selling off at the deadline. I think they're toast. I think that age and health caught up to them in 2012, and at this point it's clear that time will not be reversed in 2013. There are plenty of fans who think this is necessarily someone's fault, to which I'm somewhat resisting agreement. Look, the biggest culprit for this team falling apart is Ruben Amaro Jr. as the GM, but even in his case some of these things weren't all his fault. As is, the players on the field did what human beings do, and aged, and the manager, well, he has to play what he has.

Which brings me to a frank discussion of Charlie Manuel. There seems to be a lot of debate about his future in Philadelphia. This is two different questions in one. The first one is for the remainder of 2013. The second is for the future beyond that. They are different questions. If you believe there is a chance that this team gets better in 2013, and that a different manager could get them there, you'd make a change. If not, you obviously wouldn't. Same for the future. There are variables to both though.

Look, this team just isn't of the caliber of the elite teams in baseball. I know they just took two of three from Pittsburgh out there, but that comes after losing three of four in LA. This team has a bad bullpen, human starting pitching, and a poor line-up. No manager is going to change that. The talent lacks. That's just life. The decline of Howard, Utley, and Rollins has not been met by influxes of young talent and good free agent signings. The Delmon Young's of the world aren't good, and the Revere's of the world aren't enough. The lack of offense, and lack of relief, mean any manager would fail.

We also shouldn't undervalue how we treat Charlie Manuel and Ryne Sandberg in their inevitable transition. Manuel is the most successful manager in club history, and will have a place with the organization going forward I'm sure. Sandberg is the future. Embarrassing Charlie isn't worth it- nor is it worth labeling Sandberg a loser too early. There may be some argument if you sell at the deadline for having Sandberg take over his young players he had in the minors, but my thought is that he's in the locker room now. Let Charlie play out the string and hand it over to him gradually, and not make him take a bunch of early losses as manager of this club.

Which brings me to the long-term. I think Charlie's done great, his track-record is what it is. He's done with this contract after the season though. The fact is, Charlie did nothing to adjust to his declining team, and he let things spiral to this. His in-game decisions are not impressive. The team will have a changed personnel. With that said, some guys will be around, and you don't want him plugging them into the same old spots and trying to bleed more out of a dying team. There is no really good reason to renew his contract, despite his great success here. It's time to move on.

I truly hope the Phillies see it this way though. I have admittedly been a Charlie apologist even through his mistakes over the years, and he is part of what made this group so endearing. He deserves to leave with dignity, at least if it doesn't stop us from winning something (which it doesn't in this case). Sell at the deadline, part ways with Charlie in October, and hopefully by next year things will be moving up. In the meanwhile, enjoy the final opportunities to enjoy this group.