Charlie Manuel still has his detractors.
But since the Phillies won the National League East last year, some fans have come around: So he talks funny. So what? The players play hard for him. They've had the best offense in the National League the last two years. And how would I have done having to decide amongst Antonio Alfonseca, Jose Mesa and Geoff Geary every night?
So it's interesting (and more than a little surprising) to read that The Wall Street Journal considers Manuel the fourth-best manager in baseball.
Better than Bobby Cox.
Better than Tony La Russa.
Better than Lou Piniella.
Better than Jim Leyland.
Come again? How come I get the feeling this article might make some heads explode? The newspaper explained its formula: "Assessing managers is difficult, since their win-loss records are closely tied to the team's talent level. Because of that, we used three metrics designed to reveal a manager's acumen — performance in close games, "Pythagorean" win expectations and whether they got the most out of their players — then averaged each manager's ranking in those categories for a final score."
It's at least interesting to talk about. I'm sure the people in St. Louis are up in arms that La Russa, who practically invented the game, is tied for ninth. I'm sure Tigers fans are furious that Leyland is 19th out of the 20 managers ranked. But that's what makes it a good debate. I personally think the manager in baseball is overrated. If you have good players, you win. If you don't, you lose. If the Phillies win 85 games and miss the playoffs this year, it won't be because Manuel made some questionable moves late in the game. It'll be because the pitching failed him. Or there were a rash of injuries. Or something else happened on the field.
But that's just me.