Felt like this was worth a blog post, because there seems to be a sizeable contingent of folks who think that Charlie Manuel is living on borrowed time and will not finish out the season as manager of the Phillies. I disagree with this line of thinking, and so does Phil Sheridan, and in his column in the Inquirer today Phil lays out the reasons that Manuel is likely to remain at the helm. I agree with every sentence Phil wrote..
The most important point is that firing Manuel would leave Ruben Amaro Jr. alone in the public's crosshairs. And anybody who has watched this team lately understands that a change at manager is unlikely to make much of a difference given the putrid bullpen and a back of the rotation that is swiftly regressing to a level more commensurate with its track record. The numbers, for those who put value in those sorts of things, suggest that the Phillies have been overachievers through 85 games. One way to judge that is to look at their Pythagorean won-loss record, which uses the runs they've scored and the runs they've allowed to determine what their record "should" be based purely on production. That might sound like hocus pocus to some folks, but a team's pythagorean record is usually pretty close to its actual record by the end of the season. Last year, the Phillies' mark was 81-81 (they finished 81-81). In 2011 it was 103-59 (they finished 102-60). In 2010: 95-67 (97-65). In 2009: 92-70 (93-69). In 2008: 93-69 (92-70). In 2007: 87-75 (89-73). In 2006: 86-76 (85-77). In 2005: 89-73 (88-74).
This year, the Phillies Pythagorean mark is 38-47, while their actual mark is 40-45.
If the Phillies fire Manuel and perform worse than they did with him, then it would suggest that he was the wrong person to take the fall. More significantly, it would put the interim manager in an unfair position, especially if that interim manager is heir apparent Ryne Sandberg. Why put him in a position where he is being doubted even before his first full season at the helm? A new manager gives a franchise the opportunity to create the illusion of a fresh start. Two months in charge of a team that is playing out the string is a good way to destroy that illusion before it even has a chance to pay dividends in the form of new excitement and the ticket sales it might spur.