Can Philadelphia Phillies Salvage Charlie Manuel's Likely Last Season?
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The Philadelphia Phillies are sitting at 50-60 and unable to string together some victories to counter their recent eight-game losing streak. This post-All-Star break downward spiral is yet another piece of evidence that shows why this team needs to abandon its current philosophies and rebuild.
I suppose technically with 52 games left Philadelphia could shock us all with its perennial pinch hitters getting everyday starts and whatnot, but in my mind, the future beholds a sour ending for Charlie Manuel.
This is Manuel's ninth year as Philadelphia's manager. He's almost 70. He may have just quoted Jay-Z on the record in answering looming questions about his future with the Phillies, but youth is not something that he brings to this franchise.
Jordan Raanan of NJ.com said while Manuel's time is definitely up in Philadelphia, the team's current conundrum is not his fault:
Clearly he didn't all of a sudden become a bad manager. It's just that the same moves he made several years ago aren't working anymore. It almost certainly has more to do with the players on his roster rather than the man calling the shots.
Manuel echoes this sentiment.
Put simply, the Phillies haven't been playing good baseball. And seeing as Manuel is in the final year of his contract with third base coach Ryne Sandberg waiting in the wings to likely take over managerial duties, he's not sugar-coating anything. In an interview with Bob Brookover of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Manuel didn't hold back:
I think we're a ways off. That's what I think. I know what we've had for two years. Every year, really. We are players off.
Don't get me wrong; I still have faith in our players. I'm a manager and I believe that we can win...but when I look out there and I see how we play, I also have to be realistic.
What do you do when you're reloading and not rebuilding quite yet? Because Ruben Amaro Jr. is stubborn and won't admit complete defeat, he's going with what stings less—bringing up the young guys.
And the Phillies have done that. They've given a bunch of starts to the now-injured Johnathan Pettibone and brought up pitching prospect Ethan Martin. Darin Ruf is now an everyday outfielder (and keep in mind that he's naturally a first baseman), and Cody Asche is in the hot corner.
Philadelphia's most blaring issue is its outfield. From every vantage point, it can't be improved.
Of Philly's top 20 prospects, outfielders are in High-A or below. The fact that the Phillies' farm system is so dry wouldn't be of as much concern if we were seeing Ben Revere, Domonic Brown and Ruf take the outfield, but instead it's Ruf, Delmon Young and John Mayberry Jr.
Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said in an interview with Chris Branch of Courier-Post on July 20th that “Nix can play in center field if he has to. (Kevin) Frandsen could play some outfield. He’s done that before. (John) McDonald can play all over the place. I think we’re in pretty good shape. Everybody should be well-rested. We’re good to go.”
"Good shape" with Laynce Nix in center is telling enough.
Branch also added that "at the major-league level, Frandsen and McDonald have a combined 13 games experience playing the outfield."
At this point, there's really nothing more the Phillies can do to leave a positive lasting impression on good old Chawlie. They've given shots to young relievers like Jake Diekman and Justin De Fratus. They're playing Ruf everyday. They're even trying to turn second baseman Cesar Hernandez into an outfielder.
For now, the Phillies can hope that Amaro gets it right with the waiver wire after bombing at the trade deadline.
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