Charlie Manuel looked a lonely figure as he left Citizens Bank Park following his dismissal this week. He unquestionably remains the franchises most successful manager, but the news was treated with mixed responses from the fans and media. Some say that GM Ruben Amaro’s timing was poor and that he should have taken most of the heat for a shocking season, whilst others believed Charlie had just about got the team as far as could get them and at 69, a new face was necessary to spark some positive response during the last quarter of the season.
The timing issue was most probably driven by Charlie himself. It’s likely that Amaro had expressed that he wasn’t going to offer a new contract to the manager but was welcome to a job within the organisation. As Charlie stated, he still feels he has a few years of MLB management left in him and rather than sit as a lame duck leader for the remainder of the season, forced Amaro in to letting him go.
As for Charlie’s legacy, well of course it’s mostly positive. 5 divisional titles and a world series win for a club with a profile that had previously continually under achieved. He was an old fashioned players manager rather than a game plan schemer, nurturing the best from the young and trusting his established stars to work with and for him to gain success. At times he may have been too loyal to certain players and strategies which may explain why he didn’t win more silverware. I believe he always went with his gut and mostly he got it right.
Ultimately, everyone at the organisation has to take the blame. The loss of key staff in the years following the World Series win including bench coach Jimy Williams and 1st base coach Davey Lopes left a hole. Continual injury problems to key players certainly didn’t help either. Letting go of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino with little outfield support still baffles many and the lacklustre form of tried and trusted starting pitchers have all had an impact. The bullpen has never been stable since the world series, and the obvious ageing leading to less consistent performances of talismanic figures like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have all left an indelible mark on the failings of the 2013 team.
Every dog has his day the old proverb goes, and for that reason the time was right for a tired Charlie Manuel to leave his tired team.