I’m not one to unjustly criticize Charlie Manuel for sticking by his guys - Ryno, Chasey, Cole, J-Roll™, Brad Lidge… - because after all, his guys turned his career as a journeyman MLB man and hitting guru into greatest Phillies manager ever(!). He should keep dancing with them, because they brung him. But at a point, one has to wonder if Charlie is just totally blinded by, ah, whatever it is that blinds Ryan Howard from picking up a breaking ball.
Here’s an exchange between Manuel and reporters, who suggested that maybe – just maybe! – the guy leading the National League in home runs could bat cleanup, as detailed by Matt Gelb of The Inquirer, which is free to read this week without a subscription, promo code or secret handshake:
Manuel was testy before the game. His rant commenced when asked whether it was time to consider dropping Ryan Howard from the cleanup spot. Howard has hit one homer in his last 111 plate appearances. He is on pace for 17 home runs and 76 RBIs. He went 0 for 3 Wednesday.
“What the [expletive] are you getting at?” Manuel said. “Who’s going to hit there? Let me ask you a question. Let me turn that around some. Write what you want to write.”
It was suggested that Domonic Brown could bat there.
“I could put anybody in there, OK?” Manuel said. “Really, if you think about it. I’ll do the managing. Whoever hits there, hits there.”
Well, he’s got a point. It is what it is. Whomever hits there does, I suppose, hit there. But what if who hits there doesn’t actually hit there? Mind, blown:
So yes, Charlie, you do do the managing, and many managers who also do said managing may manage to figure out that the guy with the fourth highest slugging percentage in the league should, at the very least, be considered for the four hole. Because it’s probably something he could manage.