Charlie Manuel (2005-??) is the best of the bunch. Green is the only other manager to win a World series in a Phillies uniform, but his tenure was brief for a reason. Part of what made Dallas great was the same flinty quality that wears people down after a while. Part of what makes Chuck good for the long haul is the same steady, facilitating personality that makes him great.
Fregosi was Machiavelli in pinstripes, and, yes, Gene Mauch was a brooding genius and Eddie Sawyer was the bee's knees. But Manuel has four consecutive division titles, two pennants, and a World Series title on his side of the scale.
If he's the best manager because he has the best team, then so be it.
It should be obvious to everyone that Manuel should manage this team while its championship window is open. The problem is putting a dollar value on what he does. This is an issue only because Manuel is entering the final year of his contract, and the process of doing a new deal has dragged on long enough to raise some eyebrows.
Clearly, there is a difference of opinion about what Manuel should be paid. Is he a "top five" manager? Is he worth as much as Tony La Russa? Joe Girardi? Terry Francona (1997-2000)?
If you're Manuel, you're working for people who set fire to $10 million for one win from Freddy Garcia in 2007, who paid Adam Eaton $15 million for a season and a half before asking him to just go away, who paid Jim Thome more than $20 million after trading him away.
The comparison doesn't make rational sense. Players are apples, managers and executives oranges; and every team makes personnel mistakes. But we're not talking about rationality here. We're talking value. Manuel led this team during its rise from small-market cluelessness to elite sports franchise.
If you're the Phillies, you look at all the talent on this team and you wonder, reasonably, whether a dozen other managers would have done as well or even better.
Ultimately, though, the Phillies can't take the risk of finding out. If things were to go awry with Manuel in the dugout, that's baseball. If Manuel were to leave after this season and things went south, the Phillies would never live it down. They would have sabotaged this magnificent machine they've built over a relative pittance.
There's no way to know if Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, and Carlos Ruiz would have been as successful the last few years if Manuel hadn't been here. He is both a clinician when it comes to the mechanics of hitting and an uncanny handler of his guys' psyches.
Consider the other sources of uneasiness this spring: Domonic Brown's travails and Chase Utley's knee. Brown got off to a brutal start before breaking his hand Saturday. Utley has spent the spring waiting for his right knee to stop shrieking.
These are the sorts of things that cause mass sightings of falling chunks of sky over Philadelphia. The sky over Clearwater is intact. Under Manuel, the Phillies seem to cruise through injuries to even their most important players.
Whenever Brown resumes his apprenticeship, Manuel is the ideal guy to guide him. He's the guy who eased Howard, Utley and Werth along, phasing out Thome, Placido Polanco and Geoff Jenkins as they grew into everyday roles. And he's the guy who sat Pat Burrell and Rollins when those highly-paid stars slumped in recent years.
So there's a sense that Brown is in good hands. Manuel gave the 23-year-old outfielder a couple days off in a row - not in the punitive way some managers would, but in the same spirit he rests struggling stars.
"He's trying to get confident," Manuel said the other day. "He's still in development. He'll be all right.
In his first at-bat after the rest, and before the injury, Brown got his first hit of the spring.
Manuel's track record is what makes him valuable to this team.
The sky is not falling on Brown, and it's not falling because Manuel doesn't have a new contract yet. He'll get one, because the Phillies don't really have a choice. Manuel is the 51st manager in team history. He is first among them.
Follow columnist Phil Sheridan on Twitter at twitter.com/SheridanScribe. Read his blog at http:// go.philly.com/philabuster or his recent columns at http://go.philly.com/philsheridan.