Tag: Larry Bowa

Philadelphia Phillies’ Charlie Manuel: From Hayseed to Hero

The Philadelphia Phillies won another game last night beating the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3.  It was their 93rd win of the year.  Roy Halladay was… well Roy Halladay as he allowed only 4 hits, one run and had nine strikeouts through eight innings.  He is now 17-5 with a 2.44 ERA.

Ryan Howard provided almost all the offense the Phillies would need with his three-run home run in the first giving Halladay the lead before he even threw his first pitch.  Howard now has 32 home run and a league-leading 111 RBI.

And Phillies manager Charlie Manuel got his 637th win last night moving him to second place in all-time franchise wins.  Soon he will surpass Gene Mauch, at 646 wins, to become the winningest manager in Phillies history.  And since Phillies wins are becoming as commonplace these days as Cliff Lee shut-outs, today’s post is devoted to the unlikely story of the homespun manager who became a hometown hero.  Who woulda thunk it?

Certainly not me.  Although I have long since happily jumped aboard the Charlie Manuel hayride, I mean bandwagon, I was not in favor of his hiring back in 2005.  While I certainly wasn’t alone, I am not too proud to admit that I was wrong.  Dead wrong.  So today I issue my personal apology to Charlie Manuel. But first, a look back at how it all started.

At the time I had my reasons.  After all, Charlie was chosen to be the new Phillies manager from a field that included acknowledged baseball genius Jim Leyland (my choice for the job.)  And it didn’t help matters that he would be replacing my favorite all-time Phillie, the always-outspoken and too often quick-tempered Larry Bowa who was fired after four relatively successful but tumultuous seasons.  

Bowa’s anything to win attitude which fans loved, did not sit well in the Phillies clubhouse, particularly when it involved public criticism of his team.  By the end of the 2004 season things had turned ugly. Disgruntled players complained bitterly both internally and publicly, something had to give and, even after 3 out of 4 winning seasons, Bowa was shown the clubhouse door.

Enter Charlie Manuel.  With his slow West Virginia drawl and laid back style, he was Bowa’s opposite in every way.  While Bowa was known as a meticulous student of the game, fans were dumbstruck when it looked like Manuel didn’t know how to properly execute a double switch. And his accent and now-familiar stammer made his post game press conferences punch lines for Philadelphia’s rabid sports talk radio hosts.  In short, it seemed the tough-minded fans and writers of Philadelphia would eat Charlie alive.

But again I was wrong.

Because just when it seemed like things couldn’t possibly get any worse, a funny thing happened. The Phillies started winning.

Manuel’s laid back style and overwhelming public and private loyalty to his players did wonders for a Phillies clubhouse formerly filled with bickering and discontent.  The team followed their manager’s lead and began to support each other both on and off the field.  They played hard, they played with intensity, they played to win.

And win they did.  637 times as of last night.

It turns out that this baseball lifer who many wrote off  as just a good old country boy knew more about the game of baseball and the men who play it than any of us gave him credit for.  And while he still may not be the most seasoned at the sound bite, his record speaks for itself.  In his first six seasons as Phillies manager, Manuel has guided his team to the best overall record in the National League.  And that doesn’t even count the league-leading 93 wins they have already racked up this year!

But the highlight, of course, was that magical 2008 season when Manuel led the Phillies to their first World Series Championship in 28 years and only the second in franchise history.  At the love fest that followed, no one got a bigger ovation than the man once disparagingly referred to as “Uncle Charlie.”

And what did Charlie say at that great moment of personal victory and vindication?  Did he hold a grudge against the city that had disparaged and underestimated him?  The fans who had publicly second-guessed and mocked him from the day he was hired?  Here was his well-deserved “I told you so” moment at last.

Wrong again.

Charlie Manuel grabbed that World Series trophy, held it high for the fans in the stands to see and yelled,

“This is for Philadelphia!  This is for our fans!  I look around here and who’s the World Champions?  I thank you!”

No, Charlie.  We thank you.  So I’ll finish with the apology I promised at the start.  And this is said with the utmost respect and appreciation.

“Sorry Cholly.”

Now get back to work and bring us home another one!  Please?

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Don Mattingly and L.A. Dodgers Continue to Explore Coaching Staff Options

Normally when a new manager is hired in Major League Baseball, his first task is to assemble his own coaching staff, but in the case of Don Mattingly and the Los Angeles Dodgers, things may be a bit more complicated than they look.

Seemingly, the market for potential coaches around the league is excellent, but problems may lie in trying to convince possible candidates to come to Los Angeles and join a franchise in heavy turmoil. This could very well be the primary reason that General Manager Ned Colletti has gotten involved in the hiring process and not allow Mattingly to put together the staff on his own.

It was reported on Saturday that Tim Wallach has signed a deal to become part of the coaching crew in 2011, so long as he doesn’t accept a managerial position with any other team.

Although it sounds like good news for Dodgers fans, the number of Major League clubs seeking managers will be very high, and Wallach has stated previously that managing is his highest ambition.

Still, it was speculated that Wallach was a leading candidate to fill the Toronto Blue Jays‘ managing vacancy, yet several sources revealed last Saturday that Wallach turned down an interview for the job.

Many people guessed that Wallach could possibly fill the batting coach position vacated by Mattingly, but Dodgers officials confirmed that if Wallach indeed becomes part of the staff, he will assume the role of either bench coach or third base coach. Wallach held the post of batting coach previously for Los Angeles during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

If Los Angeles is forced to primarily promote from within the organization, it’s assumed that current hitting instructor Jeff Pentland may be a sure bet to become the next Dodgers batting coach.

It has also been mentioned that Los Angeles may be pursuing Willie Randolph to become bench coach. Randolph, a former teammate of Mattingly’s with the New York Yankees, is the current bench coach for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Larry Bowa, the current Dodgers third base coach, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for bench coach. Bob Schaefer, who was the Dodgers bench coach in 2009, has already declined to return next season.

According to additional reports, current first base coach Mariano Duncan has been told to pursue other interests, although there may be a spot available for him coaching in the Dodgers’ farm system if he so inclines to explore that avenue.

Rick Honeycutt, who has been the Los Angeles pitching coach since 2006, was reportedly offered a contract to return, however Honeycutt has yet to accept or decline the offer.

Baseball critics everywhere continue to say that the Dodgers need to be very aggressive in both the free-agent and trade markets this winter in order to be contenders in 2011, yet at this stage assembling a coaching staff seems to have its own difficulties.

Depending on the outcome of the McCourt divorce trial and the availability of cash, it may be difficult to convince a big market free-agent to sign a deal with Los Angeles, much less a high profile coach.

For the Dodger faithful, there’s probably no reason to panic just yet; nevertheless, everyone involved with the organization should hope to have something definite in place before Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings begin on December 6. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Should the L.A. Dodgers Retool the Coaching Staff Under Don Mattingly?

Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti has already announced that his club intends on making a number of personnel changes in the offseason, but many folks around Dodgertown are curious to see if the current coaching staff will remain intact to compliment newly hired manager Don Mattingly.

Until some type of direction is established in regards to the verdict in the McCourt divorce trial, it’s difficult to even guess the payroll parameters for next year. Once the team budget is established, the early formations should begin in terms of player personnel.

However, the coaching staff is a small part of the payroll, and could be one of the first areas solidified as the team prepares for next season.

Tim Wallach, who was the fan favorite to succeed Joe Torre as manager, has already expressed interest in coaching as part of Mattingly’s staff. Wallach indicated to the media last week that he would rather assume a position in the Major Leagues instead of returning to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Whether Colletti and Mattingly decide to offer Wallach a spot with the Dodgers remains to be seen. Based on his managerial success in Triple-A, it’s speculated that Wallach will be snatched up quickly by another organization if he doesn’t land some type of job in Los Angeles.

It’s already been rumored that Mattingly asked current third base coach Larry Bowa to become bench coach. There’s been no indication yet from Bowa to confirm the offer, but the common thinking is that the bench coach position will be filled by someone with a reasonable amount of managing experience to help guide Mattingly during his first season.

Bowa is known for personality issues in his past, and has been involved in conflicts with several Dodgers’ players this season. For the Dodgers to move forward and have any chance at a productive season, any such conflicts between the players and the coaches will need to be resolved immediately.

If Bowa does indeed vacate his current position, Wallach could be a very suitable candidate. It’s also been speculated that Wallach could possibly fill Mattingly’s previous job as hitting coach. Before becoming manager of Albuquerque, Wallach was the Dodgers’ hitting coach in 2004 and 2005. He was the recipient of two Silver Slugger awards in his playing days, and certainly has the ability to help rescue Los Angeles from its 2010 power drought.

It’s tough to guess the direction the Dodgers will take in terms of the pitching coaches. Current pitching coach Rick Honeycutt has been with Los Angeles since 2006, and although the starting rotation has been phenomenal especially in the second half of the season, the bullpen was nothing short of dreadful for almost the entire year.

As a player, Honeycutt was always known as a control pitcher and a “nibbler,” and it was evident, at least early in the year, that he was trying to instill some of those philosophies into hard-throwing starters Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. Both Billingsley and Kershaw have improved tremendously this season, most likely as a result of mixing location skills with their above-average velocity and their abilities to challenge opposing hitters.

Nevertheless, the bullpen will need to improve. Current bullpen coach Ken Howell may be in a position to be replaced, as Los Angeles will definitely need a fresh look to guide the relievers. One name being tossed around for pitching coach or bullpen coach is Charlie Hough, the current pitching coach for Single-A Inland Empire, and former pitching coach for Los Angeles in 1998 and 1999.

Current Dodgers’ catcher Brad Ausmus, who will retire at the end of this season, also has expressed interest in continuing with the organization in a coaching capacity, There’s been no indication by the Dodgers or Ausmus if his coaching career would begin in the Major or Minor Leagues.

Regardless, whether there’s an entirely new look or if most of the coaches return, the working relationships with the players are paramount. If Mattingly and company are able to create positive chemistry no matter what the roster looks like, there may be a chance for success.

But if any of the negative tendencies that were present in 2010 carry over to next year, it will be a very, very long season indeed.


Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Five Reasons Why Don Mattingly Will Be More Successful Than Joe Torre in L.A.

The Los Angeles Times broke the story Friday, announcing Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre will resign at the end of the season, giving way to his understudy apprentice, Don Mattingly. 

Mattingly has been Torre’s right-hand man since 2004, following Torre from the New York Yankees to Los Angeles. 

Since mid-June, rumors have heated up regarding the status of Torre and his intentions for 2011—while many insiders felt he was leaning towards leaving Hollywood.

Rumors turned into foreshadowing when it was announced Mattingly would coach in the Dodger’s minor league system over the winter, perhaps a preseason of sorts for the soon-to-be rookie manager.

Torre is certainly a legendary manager in the game of baseball. Successful in his playing days, and even more successful as a manager, Torre couldn’t continue building his legacy in Los Angeles.

Perhaps he was the victim of turmoil and uncertainty in the organization, stemming from the current divorce process in ownership.

There are approximately six months until next spring, and changes are coming in that duration. Here are five reasons why these changes will benefit Mattingly, and why his tenure as Dodgers skipper will be more fruitful than Joe Torre’s short stint in Los Angeles.

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MLB Managers: 10 Teams With Probable Openings, and the Candidates For Each

Major League Baseball is about to get a serious face-lift on the managerial front this offseason considering that already this regular season there have been five managerial firings. These include Seattle’s Don Wakamatsu, Kansas City’s Trey Hillman, Baltimore’s Dave Trembley, Arizona’s AJ Hinch, and Florida’s Fredi Gonzlez. 

Once this season ends, we won’t see Bobby Cox, still managing the contending Braves, or Lou Pinella, who got a head start on retirement, any longer as a manager. The duo have combined for over 4,300 major league victories, six National League pennants with a pair of World Series titles. 

We can’t forget about Cito Gaston who is managing in his final season with the Toronto Blue Jays and his managing career. Gaston has as many World Series titles (two) as Pinella and Cox. 

Yet as we look upon this season as the Year of the Pitcher how about can we have a standing ovation for the Year of the Manager? This offseason will dictate the future of Major League Baseball for years to come because as many as 10 teams will have probable openings with a few other teams on the bubble depending on the rest of the hirings or firings. That’s nearly three quarters of the entire league, perhaps getting a new manager from Opening Day 2010.

Even though the regular season ends in early October, expect for their to be as much as a handful of managerial moves during the postseason. 

In an earlier article, I wrote about the possible MLB managerial changes this offseason and headlined those teams but a lot has changed and with a month left in the regular season, this can be seen as the update to what’s to come, whose on each teams radar, and the probable choice for the team’s new manager. 

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L.A. Dodgers: Eight Surefire Moves To Improve Management in 2011

With less than 40 games remaining in the 2010 season, there are still many questions looming for the Los Angeles Dodgers from an organizational standpoint.

The divorce trial between owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie is set to begin on August 30, and depending on what exactly transpires in the courtroom, future ownership may take a new direction.

The decision as to whether Joe Torre will return as Dodgers’ manager will be made once Los Angeles “officially” falls from contention, while controversies as to whom will be at the helm next year are already taking shape. If Torre decides to move on and continue managing, an entirely new team of coaches may need to be assembled, as part of the staff may follow in Joe’s path.

If indeed a new owner is introduced in Los Angeles, many managerial changes are anticipated. The current managers and coaching staff have been on the hot seat for most of the season, as coaching techniques, personnel decisions, and roster management were constantly criticized across Dodgertown.

And with more than a handful of players’ contracts expiring at the end of the year, roster changes may be imminent heading into 2011 as well. Frank McCourt’s notorious deferred money contracts have scarred the Dodgers’ budget for the past several seasons, and the possibilities of several players not returning or a number of contracts being restructured loom large.

Yet with the many questions and hurdles that lie ahead, the Dodger legacy will be forever intact, and the Dodger faithful will continue to show its relentless support.

The following slides show eight areas of coaching and management that may be addressed heading into the off-season, as well as offer recommendations of filling any vacated positions. The names shown are by no means based on any fact or inside information, but simply illustrate the many possibilities that exist if the Dodgers decide to make changes moving forward.

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