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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Phils Bring Wrong Type of Attitude

Blaming the manager for what ails the Phillies is too easy. Charlie Manuel doesn’t “play” well in Philadelphia (no pun intended). His southern draw and expressions make him an easy target for fans who care more about the tough-guy image of Philly fans more than the teams they supposedly root for.

But the fact is this team seems to be underachieving, and their bipolar act is getting old. There’s also been too many suggestions that keeping players happy is too high of a priority.

Jimmy Rollins was dropped in the lineup for one day. The Phillies’ own broadcast reported that Bobby Abreu had been penciled in to leadoff the day he was suddenly out with back spasms. Just last night Chris Wheeler went on and on about how Manuel wants to keep Rollins happy and “bouncing around the dugout.”

This isn’t speculation. This isn’t Howard Eskin grinding an ax against Abreu or Wheeler. These are facts.

Why drop a guy in the lineup for one day? If Manuel didn’t back down to his “star” shortstop, he didn’t have enough of a plan for what he was doing.

After all the talk about Aaron Rowand’s catch a few weeks ago, Abreu has already pulled up on a fly ball. Yet, this is a guy the team touts as an all-star.

General manager Pat Gillick has said all the right things so far, and it’s looking more and more like he got real value for Jim Thome — a guy who the world thought they’d have to give away to let Ryan Howard flourish — in Rowand. (And, no, not because of one catch.) Reports are that Gillick tried to move Pat Burrell for Dontrelle Willis. So, clearly, Gillick gets that this team needs help. I like his aggression.

But soon, the honeymoon for Gillick is going to end. Whether it’s the oft-called for firing of Manuel or bringing in new players, this team needs to move some dead weight. Contracts by former GM Ed Wade are hindering these efforts, but those excuses only last so long.

Entering June, the Phillies still have a chance at the division. Sad to say, but that is cause for excitement among baseball fans in Philly. If decisions continue to be based on keeping prima donna players happy, that chance is going to quickly fade.

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