Charlie Manuel knew all along what everyone else knew. He knew he was dealt a crappy hand by his general manager.
In an interview with CSN Philly’s Leslie Gudel, the Phils’ recently-ousted manager was asked if he felt he had the pieces to win the last two years…
“The last two years? No. I can straight-face tell you that.”
Which of course begs the question, when did he know his teams were ill-equipped?
“Start of the season, both years.” Manuel said. “I always figured we’d add the pieces and things like that. I knew if we started the season with this team that somewhere along the lines we were going to improve it. And if you remember those years, there were a lot of those years that we did all that. They always went out and they always got pieces and they always put them on our team and gave us a good opportunity to win. They put us in a good position to win and it was up to us to do that.”
If Manuel is interested in taking a front office position with the franchise, and maybe even working with/for Ruben Amaro, comments like these kinda make office politics a little on the tricky side.
Manuel seems to be taking a direct shot at the man who cried at the press conference announcing his firing, saying he thought Amaro would give him the tools he needed to make his substandard rosters better. Remember, at the start of 2012, the Phillies were without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and there should have been a back-up plan in place, but there wasn’t. The Phils were ill-equipped to deal with those injuries, and Amaro ignored the corner outfield position, when quality free agents like Carlos Beltran, Michael Cuddyer, or Josh Willingham.
The Phillies paid for that ignorance in 2013 as all the free agent options this year were either overpriced or chose to sign elsewhere. Instead, Manuel was handed Michael Young, Delmon Young, Chad Durbin and a still-injured Roy Halladay and told, “Good luck, Chuck!”
Of course, a manager always wants his general manager to make mid-season deals to make his club better. Unfortunately, by the time the mid-season rolled around each of the last two years, the Phils were in no position to buy. And frankly, they would have been foolish to give up more young minor league talent for veteran players. I’m sure Charlie loved it when the Phils added Hunter Pence in 2011, an expense that was both unnecessary and also hurt the franchise’s future.
It’s also the manager’s job to make do with what he has. Manuel was handed a $125 million first baseman who couldn’t hit left-handers, yet he continued to play him every day against left-handers until right before Howard’s injury. He continued not to use Jonathan Papelbon in non-save situations on the road, and frustratingly ignored right-lefty splits in the bullpen. He was not good at playing “small ball,” sending runners, and making the kind of in-game strategic moves that a manager sometimes has to make with a roster that doesn’t have a lot of talent.
Frankly, some of this sounds like sour grapes, even if he was asked the question.
That said, Manuel, like many others not employed by the team, recognized that the 2012 and 2013 Phillies weren’t good enough right from the start.
Stating that truth publicly may not be very good for his chances at future employment with the Phils, but it is the truth.
And if there’s something we know about ‘ol Cholly, he’s a truth-teller.