I read this morning that I believe Peter Gammons put out a report that Chad Durbin might be returning to the Phillies- please tell me that is just a bad rumor started by Durbin’s agent who is hoping to get some other team to up their offer. Even on a minor league contract, Durbin is not the right move for the Phillies- particularly since Charlie Manuel, with his love for old players, will find it hard to actually see Durbin for what he is (a pitcher who it seems lets up runs every time he comes into an important situation) rather than giving one of the young pitchers such as Bastardo or Herndon or Stutes a chance. Phils never should have resigned Romero, who we all know will do nothing but issue walks in key appearances, and need to tell Baez to get out of town. The bullpen is clearly the weakpoint for the Phillies- hopefully with the starting staff they won’t need anyone beyond Madson and Lidge very often, but when they do, let’s not cost the team games with the same tired arms who hurt the team last year.
Interesting that Phillies and Manuel have not come to an agreement on a new contract. According to Manuel’s agent, it’s all about the money, since Manuel wants to get top-five manager money, which I assume means $4 million per year or so. I’ll admit I’ve never been a big fan of Manuel’s style, but to the degree any manager has a real impact on his team, his work has certainly appeared to produce exceptional results. Whether they would have performed any differently under a different manager is of course impossible to say. In-game decisions certainly can play a significant role (and don’t necessarily appear to be Manuel’s strong suit), but really, much of what happens once a reliever is brought into the game or a certain hitter is sent to the plate is independent of the decison made by the manager. No manager can really know how a player will perform on any given day- even the best hitters are lucky to get hits 1 out of 3 appearances and everyone is familiar with the seemingly random ups and downs of bullpens. The role of a manager therefore probably comes down more to keeping the players working together through the almost inevitable struggles/firestorms that occur at least once per season and Manuel seems to have success in this regard. However, Manuel clearly prefers veteran players to younger ones, and often seems to make decisions that negatively impact the confidence of young players. Therefore, as the Phillies begin to move toward the inevitable turnover of some of their veterans over the next 2-3 years, I’m sure Amaro is wondering if Manuel is the right person for that job. With manager in waiting Sandberg in Lehigh Valley (and Mark Parent further down the system), no reason for Amaro to way overpay for a manager. I’d give Manuel a two-year extension, $3 million per year, and tell him that was the top limit. If he thinks he can do better somewhere else, thanks Charlie for your efforts and good luck.