Rollins Bringing Out the Bad in Manuel is a Good Thing
The best part about this Jimmy Rollins situation -- and there is a best part -- is that it's bringing out the bad in Charlie Manuel.
Simply, Charlie's not a player's coach anymore. At least not entirely.
Surely that's going to be a part of him. Always will be.
But now, it won't be all there is to him. Now, he's more dynamic, layered, complex. Now, he's got an extra utensil in his tool kit. Now, no matter he does tonight -- whether he benches Jimmy or bumps him in the lineup, so long as he does something -- Charlie will get his point across, to up-and-comers and established vets alike.
Now, he's a better fit for the job.
Before, Charlie was a good fit. With the way this team's payroll has ballooned -- particularly after Cole Hamels signed a six-year, $144 million deal and Cliff Lee (and his $24 million per through 2016) was pulled back off waivers -- there was no room for a disciplinarian type. Ask the Bobby Valentine and Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia how that worked.
But at the same time (...), the other end of the spectrum didn't work either. Didn't work for Terry Francona in Boston, wouldn't always work for Manuel in Philly. Whether the voice becomes stale over time or is tuned out by players who are too comfortable with it, the consummate "player's manager" thing isn't sustainable.
Worse yet, straying from one typically means leaning toward the other. No win there, either. Too much change too fast leads to too much feet-dragging.
What does? The happy medium.
Happily, that's where Charlie Manuel's at right now.
He had a closed-door meeting with Rollins earlier this month, after the first (few) time(s) he saw what he saw Thursday. First in Miami, then in Milwaukee, then in Cincinnati.
Then Thursday, when Rollins headed back toward the dugout on a pop-up to the pitcher that wasn't, and when missed an opportunity to take second. Rollins eventually stole the bag. (Good.) But darted to third without realizing -- or caring, or caring to realize -- that Kyle Kendrick was already standing there, and should've been.
When Rollins made it back to the dugout, you know, when he was actually out, Manuel chewed him out.
"With the conversation Jimmy and I had, I think we understand one another," he said
He sat down Rollins last Thursday, for whatever reason. He's probably going to do something tonight against the Braves.
"I don’t know," Manuel said when asked about a possible benching. "That’s between Jimmy and I."
That makes Manuel valuable, right on cue for contract talks. Manuel's deal is up after the 2013 season, and this certainly adds to the argument that he should be retained.
Manuel's model works. It's frustrating at times; the "loyal to a fault" strategy to let pitchers work out of their own jams, batters out of their own slumps blows up often. But it has to. How else is he supposed to know exactly who can handle what?
Still, that strategy was limited. It was missing something, namely this side of him that, interestingly, Rollins is bringing out.
And it's not like Manuel's gone overboard with anything. Not like he's ever hung anyone out to dry, and not to make a point. Not like Bobby Valentine did Alfredo Aceves, who was sent out for a five-out save his first game back from a team-imposed three-game suspension this week.
Manuel's not going to be Valentine. But he's no longer a Francona type, either.
Simply, he's a good manager with a bad side, thanks to Rollins.
And it's for the best.