If you are from Philadelphia and you have ever vacationed in Clearwater, there is a good chance you have landed at Frenchy's Cafe. It's a hole in the wall place, across the street from the hotels and restaurants that line the beach. It is a good place to catch a grouper sandwich, and an even better place to run into a group of baseball writers. Two nights ago, we were sitting at Frenchy's talking about one of the few unanswered questions heading into the World Series: how would Charlie Manuel handle the designated hitter? The Phillies kept it a state secret all week, finally posting their line-up a couple of hours ago. There had been some speculation that Manuel would DH Eric Bruntlett, or DH Pat Burrell and put Bruntlett in left field. There was other speculation that he would tap Matt Stairs, allowing the veteran's experience in the role to out-weight the fact that he hits left-handed.
But as myself and esteemed national baseball writer Paul Hagen talked over the move, I told him I had a pretty good feeling the choice would be Chris Coste. Covering Manuel for an entire season, you get a pretty good profile of him. To me, selecting Coste is a classic Manuel move. There are numbers that support it - Coste hit around .300 against left-handed pitching this season. But in the end, I really think this is a "feel" pick. Coste played very sparingly in September as Manuel leaned on Carlos Ruiz behind the plate. In the NLDS and NLCS, he had just one plate appearance. But this is the type of stage on which Coste can shine. Throughout his career, he has performed best when the odds are against him. This is a guy who played 11 seasons in the minor leagues before cracking into the big leagues. He is batting eighth tonight, so on paper, he isn't expected to have a huge role in the outcome of Game 1. But don't be surprised if he comes up with a big hit at an opportune time.
"I've got a good feeling about him," Manuel said. "He is the guy who can sit there for a long time and hit. I think even Dobbs, as good of a pinch-hitter as he is, you've got to get him some at-bats. I think Coste is the kind of guy that can set there for awhile and still go up there and get a hit.
"Down through his career, I think that's what he's had to do. I think when he was in the minor leagues, at times he wasn't a regular player. And I think he sat there and all of a sudden when somebody got hurt or they had to play him, he got to play. And he worked his way out of that."