The latest talk coming out of this weekend’s series loss to the perennial cellar-dwelling Tampa Bay Devil Rays concerns the potential replacement of some key Phillies personnel. First, there is the looming suspicion that a trade involving Bobby Abreu or Pat Burrell could be in the works, especially involving the Phillies current opponents, the New York Yankees. Although both names regularly appear in the New York papers, they are mentioned among several other possbilities (Alfonso Soriano and Reggie Sanders to name two) and are based purely on conjecture. As Jayson Stark reiterated in his latest Rumblings and Grumblings, the Phillies are unlikely to move players mid-season unless they fall out of Wild Card contention. They are currently three games and seven teams back in that race.
The other news splashed over Philly papers is the continuing saga of Charlie Manuel. Pat Gillick deflected calls for his firing by blaming poor pitching rather than the manager’s game plan. While it can hardly be questioned that the Phillies starting 5 (or anywhere from 4 to 8 depending on the week) has been terrible as of late, this do not exclude the possibility that Manuel shares some blame in his own right. Buried in the middle of Phil Sheridan’s article on why the Pat Gillick shouldn’t fire Manuel is this little nugget:
In a few weeks, if Jon Lieber is pitching well and Randy Wolf is able to return to something like his usual form and if Gillick can find another proven big-league starter somewhere, the Phillies’ rotation should be settled. It might even be OK.
Whoa, that are some Ryan Howard-sized "ifs" there, Phil. There is no way all three (let alone one or two) of those season-saving scenarios have a chance of happening. That kind of luck does not happen for these Phillies teams. Maybe in 1993, when the team was already riding high and a rookie shortstop by the name of Kevin Stocker turned out to be a helpful mid-season move.
Though Salisbury was woefully off base with that prediction, he does make an excellent point later on related to Manuel’s job security. "If your job is on the line, and it most assuredly is, then make sure to fire every bullet you have. Do things your way, without worrying about some veteran player’s feelings or some rookie’s long-term development." His suggestions are possibly to start Nuñez, Victorino and Fasano, but could also include moving Bobby Abreu into the leadoff spot, using Tom Gordon more, or giving Dellucci some starts. But alas, if you know Charlie Manuel – and we all do – you know ‘dynamic’ is not in his vocabulary. It is more likely, at aged 62, Charlie is much more keen to ride into the managerial sunset at a straight but leisurely gallop. It has been proven time and time again that "his way" will always worry about veteran’s feelings; and for that, and several other reasons, Manuel is incapable of leading the Phillies to the next level. Though this is clear, to the extent that this is Gillick’s fault for keeping him around surely is open to debate.