|"You can stop right there, Charlie. I know your firing is totally Fuqua-ed up."|
Charles Fuqua Manuel is the winningest manager in the 130-plus year history of the Philadelphia Phillies. The team from the city of Brotherly Love never posted a losing record in any of Manuel's first eight seasons at the helm. But with a 53-67 record through Thursday's games, Manuel was relieved of his duties by Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. His replacement on an interim basis will be Hall of Famer (and former Phillies draft pick) Ryne Sandberg.
At Studious Metsimus, we find it sacrilegious to defend anyone who is (or was) employed by the team with the most losses in baseball history. However, we do feel for Manuel for losing his job over something that's not his fault.
Did Charlie Manuel give Ryan Howard a five-year, $125 million contract extension? Howard has combined to produce 25 homers and 99 RBI in the first two years of his deal. The first baseman has also struggled to stay healthy since he started collecting the big bucks.
Was Charlie Manuel responsible for signing Roy Halladay to a three-year, $60 million extension? Halladay's wins have dropped from 19 to 11 to 2 since 2011, while his ERA his risen from 2.35 to 4.49 to 8.65 over the same time period.
What about Cole Hamels' seven-year, $153 million deal? Did Charlie Manuel have anything to do with giving that contract to a pitcher who is currently leading the league in losses and is posting his highest ERA and WHIP since 2009?
And although Cliff Lee (five years, $120 million), Jonathan Papelbon (four years, $50 million) and Jimmy Rollins (three years, $33 million) have all been reasonably productive, they will all be expected to continue their production at a high rate of pay until they're in their mid-to-late thirties.
Charlie Manuel didn't give these players eight and nine-figure deals. Ruben Amaro, Jr. did. It was Amaro who made the trades, free agent signings and re-signings that are now coming back to bite the team. And it was Amaro who had the dubious distinction of removing the manager, because of course, it was the manager's fault that players past their prime got injured or stopped producing at the same rate they did when they were in their 20s.
As Mets fans, we're quite pleased that the Phillies have gone from the self-proclaimed team to beat in 2007 to a team that gets beaten quite often in 2013. And if the Phillies continue to expect thirty-somethings to play like twenty-somethings, they're going to remain behind the Mets in the division standings for years to come.
Manuel did a fantastic job with the Phillies, leading them to five division titles, two pennants and a World Series championship. But he did this with players who were in their prime. Those players are now past their prime, and the general manager who put and kept the team together has done nothing to make the team any younger. Oh wait. He did. He replaced the winningest manager in franchise history with an interim manager who is fifteen years his junior. Our bad.
Charles Fuqua Manuel is out as Phillies manager after nearly nine years at the helm. It's too bad for Philadelphia that the man who should have lost his job for the small fortune he doled out to aging players is still collecting a paycheck of his own.