Results tagged ‘ Charlie Manuel ’

Positive or Negative, Pap Speaks

papelbon pressJonathan Papelbon spoke with reporters this afternoon at Bright House Field, and he had plenty to say about leadership, positivity, negativity and his performance on the field.

Much of the conversation centered on his attitude and influence in the clubhouse. It is no secret he wasn’t a happy man last season (examples HERE and HERE). He also didn’t dominate the ninth inning like he had in the past. A combination of those things are why the Phillies actively tried to trade him, not only before the July 31 Trade Deadline, but during the offseason. The Phillies simply felt he no longer fit into their clubhouse. But finding no takers for the $50 million closer, Papelbon returned to camp saying he plans to be a more positive influence in 2014.

Of course, he said similar things in Spring Training 2013, so we will see.

Here are some highlights from his meeting with reporters:

Q: Can you talk about the start of another spring training? Is your attitude different?
A: This year, I’m definitely trying to be a lot more of a positive influence and be more upbeat. It starts from Ryno. It starts from our manager in encouraging us to stay positive and be upbeat even though the last two seasons didn’t go as expected for myself and the rest of the guys in that clubhouse. This spring training is a big, big difference, just in the first few days. There is a lot more upbeat positivity. It’s night and day, it really is.

Q: Is it a reflection of Ryne Sandberg?
A: Every morning we have a meeting and Ryno. He talks about energy and spark. Bringing it every day. Last year and the year previous, we didn’t have that. We were losing games and I feel like we let losing get to the best of us. I let it get to me just as much as anybody. That’s a tough thing to do. As an athlete, we come out here and prepare and put so much hard work into it. When it doesn’t pay off, it’s a hard thing to deal with.

Q: Were you not a positive influence last year?
A: I’m just speaking for myself and nobody else. At times, when you lose 12 games in a row and you’re in Detroit and you say you didn’t come here for this, that gets spinned in a couple of directions. For me, I didn’t come here to lose. I came here to win. I came here to win a world championship. I don’t take losing very well. The one thing I can say that does upset me is a lot of you guys here — not pointing anyone out — took that as I’m a bad teammate, which is definitely not true. I’d break my back for my teammates. I’d do anything. They’re my brothers. I’m with them more than my family. If you could ask all 25 guys in there, I live and die for my teammates.

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Sandberg Gets the Job

Ryne SandbergRyne Sandberg finally got his dream job.

The Phillies will announce at an 11:30 a.m. news conference today at Citizens Bank Park they have removed the “interim” label from Sandberg’s job title to make him Phillies manager. Sandberg becomes the 52nd manager in franchise history.

Sandberg replaced Charlie Manuel on an interim basis Aug. 16, but Sandberg has impressed the organization in that time. The Phillies are 18-16 under Sandberg, no small feat for a team that is 25th in baseball averaging 3.84 runs per game, 26th in baseball with a 4.30 ERA and 27th in run differential at minus-121.

It is not a surprise Sandberg got the job. Everybody in the world seemed to know it would happen. The only mystery remained when the Phillies would make the announcement.

They decided today would be the day.

Sandberg, who spent six seasons managing in the Minor Leagues to get a big-league opportunity, has received high marks from players in the clubhouse.

“Ryno is positive,” Phillies second baseman Chase Utley said Wednesday. “He’s always talking during the game. He’s definitely into the game, and guys respect him for that. He’s given a lot of guys an opportunity to play, which is nice. So far he’s done a great job.”

“There’s definitely a way he wants to do things,” Roy Halladay said earlier this month. “He’s set a tone early, and my guess would be that’s going to continue. He may even have more changes come Spring Training that he wants to see and that he wants to do. I think sometimes that can be a good thing, just to shake things up and make things different to where it’s not the same everyday routine. But he definitely has a way he wants to do things. It’s good that he’s not afraid to do it the way he wants to do it. If you’re going to do something, whatever job you do, you do it to the best of your ability and the way you want to do it and let everything take care of itself. I think he’s done that.”

Asche Making His Case

Cody AscheIf Cody Asche keeps playing like this, you’ve got to think he will be the Phillies’ Opening Day third baseman in 2014.

He went 3-for-4 with one home run and three RBIs in last night’s loss to the Nationals. Asche has hit in 10 of his last 11 games. He is hitting .375 (15-for-40) with three doubles, one triple, one home run and nine RBIs in that stretch. He is hitting .312 (24-for-77) in 22 games since beginning his big league career with one hit in his first 17 at-bats.

Two of his hits last night came against Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, making him 5-for-13 with one double and four RBIs against left-handers this season. That is impressive, although it is a small sample size. Asche had an .869 OPS against right-handers this season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley compared to a .691 OPS against left-handers, so it remains to be seen how successful he can be against left-handers over an extended period of time. But that is why Asche has started 21 games against right-handers since joining the Phillies, compared to just three starts against left-handers.

Easing in a left-handed hitter against left-handed pitchers is nothing new. Larry Bowa did the same with Chase Utley and Charlie Manuel did the same with Ryan Howard.

The Phillies faced 31 left-handed starters (19.1 percent of their games) in 2003. Utley started just two of his 36 games (5.6 percent) against them. The Phillies started 28.4 percent of their games against left-handers in 2004. He started just seven of his 57 games (12.3 percent) against them. That disparity grew a little closer in 2005 — 29.6 percent of total games started against lefties compared to 20.6 percent for Utley — before Manuel truly turned Utley loose against lefties in 2006.

Howard started just one of five games in 2004 against lefties, and just 14 of 79 (17.7 percent) against them in 2005. Manuel turned him loose during his MVP season in 2006.

“I thought he had great at-bats,” Ryne Sandberg said about Asche. “It goes a long way with his ability. I think he can hit righties or lefties. He has the ability. He should get a big boost from his game tonight.”

Sandberg Is Making Changes

Ryne Sandberg, Chase UtleyRoy Halladay yesterday tried to clarify his comments from Tuesday in Class A Lakewood, where he made waves when he discussed the Phillies’ managerial change.

Halladay has said both publicly and privately how much he has enjoyed playing for Charlie Manuel. I don’t think that was BS. I think he genuinely respected the former Phillies manager. But I think Halladay also hasn’t liked what he has seen in the clubhouse lately, and he tried to express those feelings to reporters. But he perhaps garbled his intended message and instead of saying the poor attitude, work ethic, etc., in the clubhouse needed to change, it sounded like he was reburying Manuel and blaming him for everything. That isn’t Halladay’s style, at least not in my experiences with him. He will speak his mind, but he’s not the type of guy to blast a manager, especially a few days after he has been fired.

But Halladay said what he said. So what about “guys being at places on time, being on the field on time, taking ground balls and taking extra BP and all those little thing that nobody thinks make a difference?”

Ryne Sandberg said yesterday, “All I can say on that is being the third-base coach and infield instructor up to last week or five days ago, players came to the ballpark, they reported, they got their work in with the coaches and all of the players were ready to play every single game.”

Now, keep in mind, if Sandberg felt differently he certainly was not going to say, “Oh, yes. I completely agree with everything Halladay said. He’s right.” But that’s OK. Sandberg already has talked about lackadaisical play and things needing to change. My very early impressions of Sandberg are he is a man with a plan and a very good sense of how he wants to do things.

I saw evidence of that early this season. He instituted infield practice at home. That is something I have not seen since I started covering the team in 2003. Every once in a blue moon you’d see the team holding infield and outfield practice before a game, but typically only after a run or sloppy games. But Sandberg wanted this to happen, whether or not the team was playing well or poorly. These 20-minute sessions typically began before 4 p.m. for a night game, so I remember asking him if everybody needed to be there. I asked because at the time players didn’t need to be in uniform and on the field until the official team stretch, which is a little after 4 p.m. Sandberg seemed completely baffled by my question. He looked stunned.

“These are mandatory,” he said sternly.

That leads me to one small, but noteworthy change he has made since he took over Friday.

Sandberg has a 3 p.m. report time to the ballpark for 7 p.m. games.

That is new.

Like I said, in the past players needed to be on the field in time for their group stretch. But Sandberg is making sure everybody is at the ballpark no later than 3 p.m. Again, it’s a small, but noteworthy change. But for me, the biggest thing for Sandberg is changing attitudes in the clubhouse. The clubhouse has not been a positive place this season. Players are unhappy (examples here, here and here). Maybe that’s just how clubhouse are when teams are losing. But things certainly haven’t been helped by the negative energy and attitudes.

If Sandberg can get everybody in the clubhouse to focus their energies on what matters on the field instead of what happens off it, then I think Sandberg will have earned his keep and deserves the full-time job. So far the early returns are good.

Halladay Clarifies Comments on Manuel

Giants Phillies BaseballRoy Halladay made some very interesting comments last night following his rehab start in Class A Lakewood.

Most everybody took them as Halladay saying Charlie Manuel let things slip the past two seasons, and that Ryne Sandberg would get players back on track, refocused, rededicated, etc. But Halladay made a statement to reporters this afternoon, trying to clarify those comments.

Here is what he said:

“I felt like what was said necessarily wasn’t written. And I just want to make it well known that I have a lot of respect for Charlie. There were some articles put out that offended me and I’m sure offended Charlie. And I called him today and talked to him about it. We’ve been in a lot of contact. I loved playing for him. He was a great manager. Everybody here loved him. The players loved him. And he was a lot of the reason they won the World Series here. I just want to make that point clear. I was also trying to say that I feel like if there was somebody that’s going to replace a guy like that then it’s going to be a Ryne Sandberg type of person with the experience that he carries and everything else.

“But I really felt like a lot was lost in translation with respect to Charlie. I just want to make that clear. I don’t endorse any manager’s firing. The players get managers fired. Any time a manager is fired as a player you feel like you haven’t done your job.

“Really, that’s it. I just want to make sure the air is clear there. I talked to Charlie and we’re good. But I wanted him to know that I really enjoyed playing for him and as far as managers have gone, he’s the best I’ve ever been around. I really enjoyed the time with him. At the same token I look forward to working with Ryne, too. Really, that’s about it. I think I saw one title that said I endorsed the firing of Charlie Manuel. And that really bothered me, so I just wanted to make sure we were all clear.”

Halladay: Change Is Good

Roy HalladayRoy Halladay made a rehab start last night at Class A Lakewood, but the most interesting thing might have come after the game when he spoke to reporters about the Phillies’ recent managerial change.

The Phillies fired Charlie Manuel on Friday and replaced him with interim manager Ryne Sandberg.

“I’ve exchanged tests with him (Manuel), obviously I loved him, he was great, but from what I’ve seen, Ryne came in and made some changes and addressed some issues that I think were being overlooked,” Halladay said. “From that standpoint, as much as I miss Charlie, I think that Ryne is going to a good job and yeah I think bring back a little more of the Phillies baseball style than we’ve had the last couple years. You know, we really haven’t had that whole team effort and the whole team hustle I think we had in prior years.”

So what exactly needed to be addressed?

“Ah, just different things,” he said. “I mean guys being at places on time, being on the field on time, taking ground balls and taking extra bp and all those little thing that nobody thinks make a difference. I think he (Ryne) has been very good so far, but I don’t want to take anything away from Charlie. We all respected him tremendously and, you know, I think he’s going to have the choice of what he wants to do at this point in his life, so I’m happy for him.”

Interesting. It’s safe to say the chemistry in the clubhouse hasn’t been good for some time. There are some unhappy players in there. Maybe Sandberg will get the players refocused on things that truly matter. And maybe that will make a difference. We’ll see.

Managers Offer Thoughts on Manuel

Charlie ManuelThe Phillies fired Charlie Manuel today, and managers around baseball offered their thoughts.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez
“I have a lot of respect for Charlie and the way he handled that situation in Philly. As you well know, it’s not the easiest place to manage. People have a lot of expectations. It’s almost like New York City with a big press (following). I admire him. … Whatever Charlie wants to do, he can do. He’s done a lot of good stuff. Whether he wants to stop managing and go into the front office to help the Phillies or if he wants to get back on the field, I think he can do what he wants.”

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly
“Charlie’s an experienced guy, he’s been through a lot. This is not a good situation. I feel for that part of it.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland
“This comes as a surprise to me. I’m very close to Charlie. I think the world of him. He’s obviously done a great job over there. And it’s just one of those things. That’s just part of our business. It’s too bad but it’s something that happens. Football coaches, baseball managers, we know what that’s all about.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire spoke about Manuel here. Asked if he was surprised Manuel got fired with 42 games remaining, Gardenhire added, “I guess yes because there’s so little time left in the season. But no, just listening to Charlie talking in Spring Training. He said he didn’t have a contract next year and didn’t know what was going to happen. Charlie is not one to back away from his stance on anything. If he believes in something, he’s going to stay with it. I know they were trying to play kids but Charlie is going to do it his way.”

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson talked about Ryne Sandberg getting the job on an interim basis. Gibson had the D-Backs job on an interim basis the final three months of the 2010 season before getting the full-time gig.

“If they’re thinking about Sandberg, it’ll help him be better prepared for next year,” Gibson said. “If you’re an interim guy, you’re kind of evaluating and preparing for if you do get the permanent job. Then you can communicate exactly what you see and what you think you should do, things like that. You can be more prepared to implement it. He’ll know the team better. He should know the system pretty good right now. He’s been in the Minor Leagues as well as the Major Leagues. I feel like it helped me. The more games you manage, the more comfort you kind of get.”

Manuel to Be Replaced

Charlie Manuel, Chase UtleyThe Phillies will announce a managerial change at a news conference this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, a source confirmed.

Manager Charlie Manuel just won his 1,000th career game as manager Monday in Atlanta, but this season has been a disappointment.

Manuel, 69, also is in the final year of his contract, and it had been expected the Phillies would make a change following the season. It seems the team’s freefall in the National League East standings – the Phillies have lost 19 of their last 23 games – has accelerated that timetable.

A source said the Phillies front office has discussed possible scenarios for a managerial change in recent weeks, although until recently nothing had been decided. The Phillies front office held a conference call in the afternoon to discuss the change.

Phillies third base Ryne Sandberg is most likely to replace Manuel as an interim manager through the end of the season. He has been the heir apparent to Manuel since he joined the coaching staff in the offseason.

CSNPhilly.com first reported the change.

And Then Depression Set In …

I can honestly say I have never covered a worse stretch of Phillies baseball than this. This is their worst 14-game stretch (1-13) since a 1-18 stretch Aug. 28 – Sept. 14, 1999. Just ugly to watch in every way.

Charlie Manuel expressed his frustrations last night. He has been handed a bad hand this season. If this is his final season with the Phillies — I suspect it is — then this is a sad way to leave.

On the offense:
“I think they’ve got to show more hunger, definitely when they’re hitting. Every guy in our lineup can square up one two or balls a night, sometimes they can square up three or four balls. And that’s how you get one or two hits and have a batting average. I don’t see no really getting after those at-bats. We look like we take it very casual. Like it’s ‘we’ll get ‘em next time.’ No, that’s not good enough. That’s what I see with our offense.”

On everything going south:
“I wish I could sit here and tell you we’re way better than that, but that’s what I’m trying to see — if they are better than that. You’re looking to see how good players are, I know I am.”

On another John Mayberry Jr. base running mistake:
“I can’t explain to you how the guy can be holding him on, how he can have a short lead, he doesn’t have what you call a lead at all and he gets picked off. I’m not throwing him under any bus or nothing like that. That’s what I saw.”

On mistakes like being picked off being inexcusable:
“That becomes inexcusable. When you’re playing like we are now, you’ve got to really be concentrating on staying focused and playing the game right and cutting down and eliminating mistakes. But at the same time, the more that you see mistakes and the more you see somebody keep making mistakes over and over and over and over, that might tell you what kind of player that he is. If I’m going to be responsible, I think other people have to be responsible too, especially the ones that play the game.”

On concerns younger players here might not learn right way to play because of the losing:
“I’m concerned about that, but also this is a game where you have to learn quick. Who to pick to talk to. It’s very important in any phase of life to find the positive people. Don’t be getting around nobody who is going to drag you down or be a whiner and stuff like that. If you want to be really good, I’m going to hang around somebody really good. I’ve seen some of those guys on the field that I’d hang around with. Someone like Mike Schmidt is going to be my buddy, not someone hitting the same as I’m hitting. I’m going to hang around with someone who’s better. I’m going to run around with (Harmon) Killebrew or Bob Allison and them. That’s who I ran around with and they were pretty good.”

*

I wonder if the Phillies will make a roster move to keep Cody Asche and Darin Ruf in the lineup once Domonic Brown rejoins the team Wednesday? Manuel said yesterday he plans to play Asche and Ruf regularly the rest of the season. Manuel also added Brown will be in the lineup everyday, too. That seems to create a decision for the Phillies. They decided to keep Michael Young rather than give him away in a trade. I don’t see them benching him — that wouldn’t make sense considering they can still trade him this month — which means he will be playing quite a bit at first base. So that leaves Ruf in left field. That could force Brown back to right, which means Delmon Young‘s day could be numbered.

I would say they could keep Young and release Laynce Nix, but that would not solve the problem of Ruf’s playing time because Nix rarely plays anyway.

The Phillies signed Delmon Young to a low-risk deal before the season because they thought he could provide power in right field for a team they hoped would make the postseason. But the Phillies are headed nowhere now, and his production doesn’t justify giving Ruf less of a look. Young is hitting just .263 with eight home runs, 31 RBIs and a .708 OPS in 285 plate appearances. If Young had enough plate appearances to qualify, he would rank 18th out of 22 rightfielders in baseball in OPS.

It’s A Trap!

Before the Phillies opened their 10-game homestand last weekend Ruben Amaro Jr. said a 5-5 mark “probably” would not cut it.

They’re 5-2 after taking two of three from the Braves last weekend and three of four from the Nationals this week. The Phillies open a three-game series tonight against the White Sox with an excellent opportunity in front of them. They have won 7 of 10, they are at home and they are playing a team with the third-worst record in baseball. The White Sox have the second-worst offense in baseball, averaging 3.78 runs per game, and rank 18th with a 4.07 ERA.

It lines up perfectly.

And there’s the rub.

A couple people literally told me before the homestand, “Watch, the Phillies will take two of three from Atlanta, three of four from Washington and get swept by the White Sox.” (The nerve of them.) What a disaster that would be. Asked about avoiding a letdown against Chicago, Charlie Manuel said last night, “We’ve got to play hard. We’ve got to outplay them. We’ve got to do the same thing against the Chicago White Sox as we did against Washington and the Braves. We’ve got to play as hard or harder. You don’t let up. You stay right at it.”

Take two from the White Sox and the Phillies enter the All-Star break with a boatload of momentum and .500. Sweep the Sox and it’s even better.

But they’ve got to avoid the trap.

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