Today is one of my favorite days of the spring. That's right, it is Charlie Manuel Gets Pissed Off At The Offense Day. It is an annual tradition here in Clearwater, and the fun part about it is you never know it has arrived until it happens. Manuel takes a lot of heat for the perception of his offensive philosophy, but the guy really does take his team's performance personally, and sometimes even a poorly-executed Grapefruit League game will set him off.
This year, CMGPOATOD was a little different than in year's past. At least it felt that way. Manuel was really frustrated with what he saw in a 4-4 tie against the Tigers. And it was hard to blame him. The Phillies went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position, stranding 10 on base. On several occasions, they failed to get bunts down.
One guy who has had a rough week-and-a-half is Juan Pierre, who entered camp as a strong candidate for a bench spot. Right now, Scott Podsednik looks better all the way around, at least as far as offense is concerned. He seems to be running better and swinging a faster bat. Now, I've never seen Pierre in spring training before, so maybe this is nothing new. But for a guy coming off a season in which he was thrown out on 17 of his 44 stolen base attempts and who did not receive any guaranteed offers this offseason, it's fair to wonder how much he has left. Manuel likes his personality a lot. And if he can give the Phillies a guy who can come off the bench and lay down a bunt and perhaps steal a base as a pinch-runner, then he has some value. Problem is, it isn't clear if he can still do those things. Yesterday, he struck out on a bunt attempt with runners on first and second and no out. If he would have moved the runners, Jim Thome would have had a two-run single instead of a one-run single. Pierre also struck out on a high Rick Porcello fastball and later got jammed on an inside pitch.
Pierre is 4-for-15 with three strikeouts and two walks and no extra base hits. He is 1-for-2 on stolen base attempts. Podsednik is 6-for-17 with three doubles, two walks, two strikeouts and has not been caught stealing in three attempts.
There could end up being a lot more competition for the final one or two bench spots than we anticipated at first.