The Phillies ended the first half of the season with their first series win in over a month. I was at the game again yesterday and was pleased with the performance compared to what I witnessed on Friday. Although Cole Hamels was a bit shaky in the first – walking the first batter and allowing two runs with over 30 pitches – he settled down to earn the win. Ryan Howard had the day off in preparation for his back-to-back outings in Pittsburgh, so Utley played first and Nunez got the start at second. Abraham finished the game as the only Phils’ position player not to record a hit and thus didn’t help his .136 average on the season. Still, the big news that emerged from yesterday’s game revolved around the embroiled Charlie Manuel.
Charlie spoke of the pressure of constantly being reminded that his job stability is regularly put into question by the fans, the media, and hybrids such as myself. Yesterday at the park, I was intrigued by a large man in Ashburn Alley wearing a sandwich board calling for Manuel’s firing. It reminded of one of those crazy preachers that roam college campuses imploring us to repent because the end is near. While it is understandable that Manuel is perturbed by all the talk, it’s simply one of those many unwritten rules of baseball that the manager gets blamed for underachievement. But that isn’t the real story that came out of Manuel’s press conference. In my opinion, the more interesting point came in the catalyst of Manuel’s outspoken interview; that is, what to do with Brett Myers.
It has been reported that Myers will rejoin the Phillies on Friday in San Francisco with the possibility of pitching Sunday. It is likely Brett will ease his way back into the rotation with a "rehab" assignment and an appearance or two out of the bullpen. Strictly in terms of starting pitching there is no question the Phillies need Myers. The team is fourth-worst in the league in runs allowed and has a strange habit of spotting opposing teams runs in the first inning. Cory Lidle is currently leading the team in ERA with an average just over five. Myers meanwhile has posted a 3.86 mark in 16 starts. Yet within the context of his alleged assault charges, the decision of when to use Myers becomes more complicated. Manuel has yet to put forth a specific date, claiming "we haven’t decided." However, "we" is the operative word in that quote. Does it mean he and Rich Dubee? or are Pat Gillick and Dave Montgomery included in the equation? This ambiguity is what sparked Charlie’s comments on the rumors of his impending firing. After initially hearing "I hope it’s my decision" from Manuel, the Inquirer’s Jim Salisbury followed up with a phone call and heard "I meant, I’m the manager and I better be able to make that decision."
The Brett Myers plot line has surely tested the Phillies. It is often said that the true test of a person or organization is witnessed in how they respond to adversity. The Phillies failed the first exam when it took several days to properly respond to the situation. This next hurdle will provide a similar test to the Phillies resolve as an organization and Charlie Manuel as a manager. Many people think Myers, despite being a bright spot on a poor pitching staff, should not be welcomed back to the Phillies. One needs to only look across the street at the T.O. saga to see how an organization responds to a bad seed. I agree with the Eagles that the best thing to do is distance yourself from bad publicity so trading Brett Myers wouldn’t be a wholly bad idea. While it seems Myers is set to return to the club, how the fallout is handled will provide further insight on whether the Phillies are mismanaged on the field or from the front office.