Phillies problems run deeper than old management


Stephen Forney, Sports Columnist

Over the past week and a half, Phillies baseball went from full of disgrace to full of potential. Its no secret that the Phils have had their struggles this season, dealing with injuries, poor play and heavy slumps making a dynasty officially move into their rebuilding era.

In a summer where we thought we would see a fire sale, the only guy who got the boot was the one we all loved the most. Charlie Manuel really took the brunt of the poor play of his season losing his job to a hall of famer he had taken under his wing and shown the ropes to.

Personally, I liked Charlie as much as every other fan and the whole Philadelphia area is still in shock and discussing how sad they are and how much he was beloved throughout the fan base.

However, as we take a closer look into the Phillies’ season, there might be more blame to put on than just having a bad line up.

As far as it goes as managerial responsibilities, you show up on time, check on your players, get them to play to their full potential, make the tough decisions and stuff your face full of ballpark food.

I’m not saying it’s always easy but it’s quite clear he was only successful in two of those this past season very different from where he was three years ago.

Every play from almost every player from the time that Ben Revere got hurt until Charlie was fired, seemed lazy or as everyone else has put it lackadaisical. Lazy and nonaggressive base running, lazy cuts at the plate and dropped fly balls in the ninth inning of a game that should have been locked up (thanks for that gray hair Dom Brown.)

If you take the time to reflect upon the 2008-10 era of flat-out amazing Phillies defense, the outlook is vastly different than what we see now.

For starters, more consistent pitching, and not just the starters but especially the bullpen.

Going into this season Mike Adams was supposed to be the rock that rid us of our previous bullpen issues — and we haven’t seen him in months.

Good Ol’ Pap had a nice midseason blowup and made himself less popular than Andrew Bynum blowing six of 10 saves in a time where those six games were more than crucial and really defined their season. Don’t forget about the injury to Mike Stutes and the suspension to Antonio Bastardo.

“D-Fence!” Everyone’s favorite chant at any sports game ever, but where has it been this year? There hasn’t been a gold glover in our outfield since Shane Victorino, the gold glove of Jimmy Rollins is long gone (and I mean really long) and Chase Utley is the man but only plays two-thirds of the season.

Behind the plate a huge bright spot early in the dark beginning was Eric Kratz, filling in in near all-star form for the suspended Carlos Ruiz, but then, of course, he too got injured.

I was going to take the time to elaborate on the struggles of hitting but I felt their 5-15 slump from the all-star game to Charlie’s last kind of spoke for its pathetic self.

Every time this season someone has gotten hot at the plate, someone else cools off or they get hurt. Examples — Ben Revere, Carlo Ruiz, Chase Utley, Dom Brown (amazing hot streak, more amazing cold streak), Jimmy Rollins and Ryan “Why Does He Have That Contract” Howard. I think my point’s been made.

But now with Ryne Sandberg at the helm, this ship has certainly has changed direction. The thing I like most about the new skipper is his effort to make sure that the players know every game matters.

Just because they might not (and won’t) make playoffs they need to understand this opportunity of playing a sport at this level is a privilege and if they turn their back on this game, this game will turn their backs on them forever.

While a most of the players liked how relaxed and personal Manuel was, I think they will be more responsive to the more serious approach of Sandberg. Sandberg has been around the team for a while coaching the minors and majors so he gets a great start knowing the organization from top to bottom and probably being this clubs saving grace.

The youth on this team is getting great experience right no and paying pretty well also. Darin Ruf proved he’s an everyday player, Dom Brown had a breakout year, Ben Revere proved he can be our man out in center when healthy and Asche gives them the third baseman they need for when Michel Young leaves after this season.

Not to forget that pitching prospects, Jonathan Pettibone (first starting pitcher of the ‘90s generation for the Phillies) and Tyler Cloyd have played their way into Phillies uniforms. And with the low stakes on this late portion of the season, these guys can get the experience they need to develop into full time players all the while resting some of the aging vets on the team.

All in all the quick start to Sandberg’s career as a manager at this level was what this team needed to begin the overhaul and uprising of Phillies baseball.

As beloved as Charlie was, it seemed that he just didn’t have a handle on things especially since a rookie manager is able to turn them around on such a short timeframe.

Even Roy Halladay has been quoted saying “some issues were overlooked” about Charlie’s leadership.

So it’s time to say “sorry Charlie,” and “thank you for the greatest era in Phillies baseball history” and at the same time welcome the newest Phillie to the team, Ryne Sandberg.