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Philadelphia Phillies: Has Charlie Manuel Finally Worn out His Welcome?

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Philadelphia Phillies: Has Charlie Manuel Finally Worn out His Welcome?
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In 2005, Charlie Manuel replaced Philadelphia Phillies legend Larry Bowa as the manager of a team with a rabid fanbase in desperate search of a World Series victory.

In his first season as skipper, Manuel led the Phillies to an 88-74 record, missing the playoffs by only one game.

The Phillies just missed the playoffs again in 2006, but in 2007, Manuel kept his team focused enough to go 23-11 over their final 34 games and overtake the New York Mets in order to win their first division title since 1993.

Then, in 2008, Charlie Manuel found his way into the hearts of Philadelphia fans forever by leading the Phillies to their second-ever World Series win; their first since 1980.

Manuel will forever be known as the coach who led the team that broke Philadelphia's "Curse of William Penn." But, is it time for the Phillies to move on from Uncle Charlie?

The Phillies have made the playoffs in every year since 2007, a streak that, barring a miracle, will end this year. The team is getting a bit of a makeover—trading Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton and likely moving on from Placido Polanco in the offseason. Now may be the best time to change managers.

Manuel is under contract through the 2013 season, so the Phillies would have to buy him out if they choose to move on, and that's exactly what they should do.

Manuel's loyalty to his players has gotten in the way of the team's success.

In September of last season, Manuel left his starting pitchers in for what many fans believed was too long.  

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Cliff Lee averaged about 106 pitches in five starts last September, and when it was his turn to pitch in the NLDS against the Cardinals, Lee gave up five earned runs in six innings.

Had Lee been used with more caution in September, would he have been in better shape to pitch well in October?

Manuel's loyalty to shortstop Jimmy Rollins is another issue that Philadelphia fans have with their 68-year-old manager.

Manuel repeatedly states that Rollins is his leadoff hitter, despite the fact that the Phillies went out and signed prototypical leadoff man Juan Pierre in the offseason.

Rollins is hitting .245 this season and has an on-base percentage of .304. Pierre is hitting .307 and has a .349 on-base percentage.  

Not that hitting Pierre at leadoff would have made the Phillies a playoff team this year, but based on statistics, Pierre clearly should be at the top of the order every game.

Under Manuel, the Phillies have relied on the home run ball to carry their offense. With Ryan Howard and Chase Utley out of the lineup for the majority of the season, it became clear that Manuel could not adjust to a team that wasn't full of power hitters; he refused to play small ball.

Manuel's loyalty to Rollins as a hitter and his inability to play small ball both showed in the Phillies' August 12th game against the Cardinals.  

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It was a 7-7 game in the bottom of the 11th and Erik Kratz was on second with nobody out. Jimmy Rollins came to the plate in a clear bunt situation, but Manuel allowed him to swing the bat. Rollins hit a chopper to the left side of the infield and Kratz was called out at third.

The Phillies went on to win that game, but they could have very easily not have scored in the 11th.  

It's time for the Phillies to bring in a manager that has no loyalty to these players. Someone who can come in next season and play the best players in optimal spots in the lineup.

The man for the job is already in the Phillies system.  

Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg is the manager of the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  

Sandberg was named the 2011 Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America after leading the IronPigs to their first-ever playoff appearance and the International League championship series.

Despite a relatively weak farm system for the Phillies, Sandberg has the IronPigs in the thick of the playoff race again this season.

Charlie Manuel will forever be a Philadelphia hero, but it's time to move on. It's time to get younger players and a younger manager. It's time for the Ryne Sandberg era to begin.

 

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