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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Time for Phils to Move On

Now that Charlie Manuel is apparently picking fights with sports talk-show hosts, its time he was put out to pasture. Manuel allegedly had to be restrained from going at Howard Eskin last night after the 610 WIP host questioned whether or not the manager should be showing more anger to his 3-9 team.

Going after Eskin doesn’t necessarily suggest there’s anything wrong with Manuel. Plenty of folks no doubt wish Manuel had kicked the guy’s ass. But the fact is enough is enough with Manuel, and regardless of Eskin today was the day to move on.

I know, just a few days ago I said Manuel had a chance to turn things around with Houston and Washington coming up. Well, they only split a rain-shortened series with the Astros, and the Washington games would be a chance for a new manager to get off to a good start. And if Manuel is letting a media member get to him, it sends a terrible message to a team that is yet again proving they can’t handle pressure. Obviously, their manager can’t either.

I still don’t necessarily think Manuel is to blame for the putrid start. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley got the most credit last year, and deserve a lot of blame for the start of this year. The fielding isn’t really Manuel’s fault either. But when the same thing happens every year, the manager needs to do something, and Manuel never has.

We heard endlessly how the Phillies needed to get off to a good start. It’s only April 18, and that ship has already sailed. Manuel’s response has been to say “it’s only 5 games,” until it was 8, then 10, etc. Remember, this is the same organization that pushed Larry Bowa out the door because he was too tough on the players.

I’ve been surprised to hear the criticism Pat Gillick has received for not getting more bullpen help. I recently heard ESPN’s Jayson Stark discuss the lack of relief pitching available throughout the league, so I can’t blame Gillick for not getting blood from a stone. Yet, his support of Manuel does begin to call Gillick into question.

It’s time to try something different — like maybe bringing back a manager that’s not afraid to take on the players instead of talk-show hosts. Manuel needs to go.

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