Paul Hagen | Charlie's earned himself another year

Posted: August 03, 2007

CHARLIE MANUEL probably isn't going to be voted the National League Manager of the Year. His national profile is too befogged by being the butt of jokes based on his chicken-fried speech and his battles with syntax and the fact that most people know him only through

postgame television appearances in the Comcast room, a venue that does nothing to flatter him.

Lou Piniella will get a lot of credit for leading the Cubs' resurgence, and never mind that a team that spent $300 million in the offseason probably should win. You can never go wrong with Atlanta's Bobby Cox, but he got a lot better once he could write Mark Teixeira into the lineup and had Octavio Dotel in the bullpen. Milwaukee's Ned Yost should get some support because, no matter what happens the last 2 months, the Brewers have taken a big step forward. And a tip of the cap to Arizona's Bob Melvin, as well.

It could be argued, though, that through the first two-thirds of the season, nobody has gotten more out of what he's had to work with than Ol' Uncle Charlie.

There was a large question in spring training whether the pitching was good enough to support the dynamic lineup.

And that was before Freddy Garcia's shoulder betrayed him, before Jon Lieber was hurt performing the arduous task of backing up the plate, before closers Brett Myers and Tom Gordon each missed 2 months, before Chase Utley's MVP-type season was interrupted by a broken hand, before Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn were lost in the same game, before Ryan Madson grabbed his shoulder.

A lot of people don't want to hear this. But even though the manager occasionally makes moves that leave you wondering, he also deserves a lot of credit for patching things together and keeping everything on an even keel. That's the bottom line.

Manuel is in the last year of his contract. He deserves to be told as soon as possible that he will be back in 2008. Because even if it all comes crashing down now, it's difficult to see how, under the circumstances, the blame can be pinned on him.

He probably won't be manager of the year, but an extension would be a fair acknowledgment of a job well done.

The hot corner

* There was immediate speculation after royals manager announced that he'll become a consultant at the end of the year that braves third-base coach terry pendleton could be his replacement. Kansas city general manager dayton moore was previously an assistant to john schuerholz in atlanta.

* Plugged-in St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz speculates that manager Tony La Russa will decide to return to the Cardinals next season. The guess here is that, if he does, third baseman Scott Rolen won't be back.

 * The Nationals will use the rest of the season to audition young arms. "We've had 6 months to see some of the other guys," said manager Manny Acta. "We appreciate what they've done, but everybody knows what we're doing here."

Around the bases

* Boston's got off to a 9-0, 2.88 start. Since then he's 4-5, 4.05 in his last nine starts.

* Reds manager Pete Mackanin, who took over for Jerry Narron earlier this season, admits GM Wayne Krivsky tells him who to play. "I'm just not in a position to make demands as to what I want," he told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

* Sammy Sosa is out as the Rangers' everyday DH, even though he leads the team in homers and RBI, after hot prospect Jason Botts was called up.

Finally

Wrapping up the trading deadline fallout:

* Why would the Pirates, well on their way to a 15th straight losing season, take on the $15.7 million righthander Matt Morris is owed between now and the end of the 2008 season? Maybe because they know he'll clear waivers and think they can flip him for at least one top prospect after he does?

* Why did the Rangers trade both Mark Teixeira and Eric Gagne? Because both turned down contract extensions leading up to the deadline. Teixeira spurned an 8-year, $140 million offer.

* Why did the last-place Nationals re-sign veterans Dmitri Young and Rafael Belliard

instead of trading them to contenders? It could be that they want to put a competitive team in their new stadium, scheduled to open next year, as soon as possible. There is also speculation that it could mean that the broken leg that has kept Nick Johnson out all year is even more serious than previously thought. *

Send e-mail to hagenp@phillynews.com

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