The Philadelphia Phillies felt the need to do something drastic after plummeting in the standings. In order to stop their slide in the National League East, the Phillies decided to bring back legendary manager Charlie Manuel as a hitting coach, according to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. Manuel will take over for John Mallee.
The move comes as a surprise considering Manuel hasn’t been a coach or manager in the league since 2013. In that time, however, he’s remained around the game. The 75-year-old has served as a senior advisor to the general manager the past couple seasons.
While Manuel is known for his prowess as a manager, he has served as a hitting coach during his career. After managing in the minors, Manuel had two separate stints as the hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians. His last season as the team’s hitting coach came in 1999.
Bringing back Manuel may seem extreme, but the Phillies are in desperate need of help. The team has found itself in a free fall, going 27-34 since the start of June.
The team’s offense has been a major problem all season. Despite some excellent names in the middle of the order, the Phillies’ offense ranks 22nd in wRC+ — an advanced stat that measures offensive output. Outfielder Bryce Harper has been a big part of that, putting up a .250/.372/.472 slash line in his first season with the team. J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura have also experienced offensive decline in 2019.
Given Manuel’s history and status in Philadelphia, the move can also been seen as a way to send a message to current manager Gabe Kapler. The Phillies experienced a late collapse under Kapler last season, and the team’s recent struggles have dropped the Phillies to fourth in the NL East. If Kapler is in danger of being replaced, Manuel makes for an easy candidate to step in, especially if he’s used as a short-term solution.
While Manuel has not been a hitting coach for some time, he presided over some dominant lineups in Cleveland. If Manuel can find a way to get some of the Phillies’ biggest names back on track, that could be the difference between the team sneaking back into the playoff race or sitting at home in October and watching the action.
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