Following in GM Ruben Amaro Jr.’s footsteps, Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel made an appearance on MLB Tonight. And I've never seen a man look more uncomfortable in a suit. As is usually the case, the interview, led by Greg Amsinger, Dan Plesac, and Tom Verducci, was somewhat painful to watch. You can’t help but squirm at the obviously uncomfortable Charlie Manuel trying to get his point across. We know he knows what he’s trying to say, but he just can’t get it out. But that’s why we love Chalie. That, and he brought us that World Series championship a few years back. Anyway, here is some of what Charlie had to say.
- He begins by noting that he gets sent home early from the Winter Meetings because he has seniority. Sure Charlie, that’s why.
- In reference to the team losing their “swagger” this season, Charlie says there are a few things that make him believe the team will get it back. His list included: Chase Utley playing 82 of 85 games, Ryan Howard still knocking runs in, Jonathan Papelbon pitching well out of the bullpen, young relievers getting some experience, Kevin Frandsen playing well, and Freddy Galvis’ tremendous defense (also his lack of offense).
- For Manuel, defense seems to be one of the team’s biggest needs. He tells Plesac that the team needs to return to the solid defensive team they were before. He also notes that the baserunning must improve. While getting a veteran 8th inning guy is high on Charlie’s list, his top priority remains a center fielder. He goes on to say that if the team does not bring in Michael Bourn or Josh Hamilton, they must acquire a corner outfielder.
- As far as 3rd base is concerned, Manuel likes what he saw out of Kevin Frandsen, but is not sure if he would be able to hold up over a 500 at-bat season.
- The topic of the bullpen comes up, and Manuel first brings up Phillipe Aumont. He says he likes Aumont’s big and strong stature, but is concerned with his inconsistency. He also mentions his crisp slider and believes he’ll pitch for a long time. Apparently, Rich Dubee has given much praise on Justin DeFratus, and Manuel says he likes his potential. I was puzzled when Manuel said he was happy with B.J. Rosenburg’s tenure with the club. I didn’t see anything to like, but that’s just me. Overall, Manuel says the bullpen just needs experience, and will soon be formidable. However, Charlie does take a step toward throwing Antonio Bastardo under the bus, noting his inconsistency, and going on to say he would not put Bastardo in a game against names like Braun, Hart, and Ramirez all in a row. Yeesh.
- When asked about Roy Halladay’s disappointing season, Charlie says he believes Halladay will come back as good, if not better, as he was before. He also throws into the conversation that Utley will play into a new contract with the team. Uhh…
- In Carlos Ruiz’ situation, Manuel is a firm believer in MLB’s drug policy and stands behind the suspension. While Charlie knows the team is losing a frontline player, he believes Erik Kratz will be able to play well in Chooch’s absence.
- Manuel was also asked about the division itself. He says Washington’s pitching is very good, but believes Utley, Howard, and Rollins will be able to handle it. Atlanta is certainly improving, and Manuel tells a story about B.J. Upton. On a golf outing earlier in the offseason, the two spoke, and Manuel liked what he heard. My favorite part was when he said Upton was easy to communicate with, stumbling while saying the word “communicate”.
- Finally, Charlie says that this team centers around Ryan Howard. That is why they refer to him as The Big Piece. He believes the team will improve this offseason, perhaps not at the meetings, but soon.
As you can see, Manuel gave up much more than Amaro did. That’s not surprising, considering Charlie likes to babble, and also doesn’t understand when he’s not being included. Anyway, I think Charlie made some pretty interesting points, mainly on Aumont and Utley. But talk really is cheap in baseball. I’m just hoping to see Charlie return to the World Series caliber manager he can be.
Follow Andrew Gillen on Twitter @BigGillen48