Coming off a season that saw them win a franchise record 102 games, this start has been beyond frustrating. While it's not too late to turn things around, the team is getting to the point where it has to make or break the season. There are many reasons why the team sits in last place, and Charlie Manuel deserves some of the blame.
However, calling for the manager to be fired at this point isn't entirely fair.
Yes, Manuel has made mistakes this season. There are times when he tries to do too much with the pitching staff. The Phillies have often burned through too many relief pitchers in the seventh and eighth innings, leaving them shorthanded the following game. He has also had issues when it comes to managing the lineup. He left Jimmy Rollins in the number three spot too long and has made too many changes at first base and left field. However, the idea of blaming Manuel for everything is absurd. If anything, he deserves some credit for helping this team stay in contention as long as it has.
The real problem with the Phillies is the personnel. With the number of injuries plaguing the team right now, the roster is mostly made up of two types of players. First, there are veterans that are unable, or unwilling, to change their ways. Second, there are guys playing bigger roles than they should. Utility guys have become starters and minor leaguers have become role players. In either case, there isn't much Manuel can do. Rollins isn't suddenly going to change his hitting style to help the team do what it needs to do. Meanwhile, John Mayberry and Mike Fontenot aren't suddenly going to turn into elite major leaguers. When you throw in the mediocre bullpen, Manuel is pretty strapped. He can only work with that he has, and right now he doesn't have a lot.
If things don't turn around over the next couple of weeks, the Phillies might be forced to unload some players at the trade deadline. However, one thing they shouldn't do is fire the manager. I have been frustrated by plenty of moves that Manuel has made over the years, but at the end of the day I know that he is good at his job. He can't make the team manufacture runs or hold leads.
At some point, fans and the media need to hold the players accountable.* - Mark Paul is a Philadelphia resident and lifelong Phillies fan.
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