If I had told you a year ago that you'd be watching Cliff Lee pitch in the World Series tonight, I'm sure you would have been ecstatic. Well, as Charlie Manuel likes to say: Funny game, this baseball.
Manuel said a lot of other stuff today in an appearance on 610-WIP, where he appears on a weekly radio show during the season. Not a lot of it was newsworthy. Most of it was interesting.
Here is the Cliffs Notes version:
1) Manuel's outlook on the Jayson Werth situation jibes with all the indications we've received from the organization over the past few months.
"From what I hear Ruben (Amaro Jr.) saying and my conversations with him, I think we definitely have some money to spend," Manuel said. "But at the same time, the problem is, length-wise of a contract, and also what direction we want to go in. From my point of view, to me, right now, I look at our core players, I'm a hitting guy, and I think we can develop a hitter before we can get a top notch pitcher or a top bullpen piece. If you look at our infield, take our catcher, and our pieces in the outfield, I think we definitely already have a good offense. It definitely has to hit better, which I'm planning on it doing, but at the same time, I think we can get production from the corner guys if we have to platoon or we have to go out and get a lesser big name piece."
Manuel did say later that he expects RAJ to negotiate with Scott Boras. But clearly, the Phillies have an alternate plan if, as everybody seems to expect, Werth's asking price (most specifically, the length of the deal) is out of their desired price range.
2) We floated this scenario the other day in our coverage in the Daily News, and Manuel mentioned it today: A platoon in right field to replace Werth. Keep in mind the Phillies had an outfield rotation in 2007 and 2008. Ross Gload played well this season and can play the corner outfield spots. I do not get the impression that the Phillies see using Domonic Brown in a platoon situation as ideal. A lot of the development he needs to do might not happen as quickly if he isn't playing every day. But it could happen. Don't be surprised though, if the Phillies target a lesser-named guy (think Jeff Francoeur or Matt Diaz) to provide some right-handed outfield depth to pair with a guy like Brown or Ross Gload. Depending on how Raul Ibanez starts next season, the platoon could also come with him in left field, enabling Brown to get regular playing time in right. Also, Ben Francisco hit well against lefties this season, so he could be an internal option.
"I think Ruben's got a lot on his plate as far as which way he wants to go in getting it done," Manuel said. "But I think he can. Evidently he definitely still wants to negotiate with Werth. It sounds like he's going to talk to Scott Boras, his agent, and things. That's definitely the first priority. And then that will lead us into which way he wants to take our team.
"I like young players. If something happens and we don't keep Jayson. (Domonic) Brown, that intrigues me. I'm really interested in that. We need a blend, a balance, a different look. We need to get back to what I call energy. We've got established big league players and they are good big league players, outstanding. Some of them are great. And they have their own way of playing. It's not like they don't hustle and things like that, but we could use a little different mixture."
3) Manuel didn't have much to say on his contract, which ends after next season, except to say he wants to continue to manage here.
"Ruben said something about that he would be talking to me sometime this fall, probably before Christmas," he said. "I'm sure he will. We'll see what develops."
4) And, of course, Manuel is still trying to get over the disappointing end to the season.
The other night when I talked to our guys after the game, that might have been one of the toughest talks that I've had since I've been a manager," Manuel said, "because you could tell that they were down, and they were hurt."