A few more weeks like the first one and I expect GM Pat Gillick to lower the boom on Charlie Manuel.
Much as I hate to see anyone lose his job, especially someone as dedicated to the game as the Phillies skipper clearly is, the move may already be overdue. We can endlessly debate how many games a manager actually wins or loses, but the growing perception is Charlie is painfully overmatched at the helm.
In his first year in the National League Charlie often seemed stumped by certain in-game decisions, especially the double switch, but his problems are more fundamental than that.
Manuel’s well-known loyalty to veterans, especially those whose natural abilities are “limited”, is an admirable personal trait but an ongoing disaster from a team standpoint. No one better represents this ill-considered approach than David Bell, whose continued presence in the starting lineup, particularly against right-handed pitching, is beyond inexplicable at this stage; it is inexcusable. To wit: what could Manuel possibly have been thinking yesterday when he let David Bell bat in the bottom of the eighth in game one against a right-hander when he had David Dellucci on the bench? The results were predictable: 1-6-3. Bell is now 1-14 for the season.
The move begs the larger question: Gillick must have thought the Phils needed another left-handed bat off the bench when he acquired Dellucci on the Sunday before the regular season began, but did Manuel concur?
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The decision to sit several key players in the second half of yesterday’s twin bill against the Dodgers is difficult to explain when one looks at the details. Why would Manuel sit Aaron Rowand, a young enough guy who finally got untracked in the first game yesterday, so early in the season? To rest him? To give Shane Victorino a start? If the latter, try left field, then, where Pat Burrell and his nagging foot problems could have used the rest. Why sit Ryan Howard, another youngster with the stamina to play two in one day, when he is one of your premier power hitter and the Dodgers were starting the right-hander Brad Penny? Providing everyone a chance to play is an admirable idea, but not when your team was the last one in the majors to win its first game of the season a week after getting underway.
Keeping a 25-man roster happy by giving everyone a chance to play is one thing; keeping them happy by giving them the best opportunity to win is something else.