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December 7, 2005
Q. What's it going to be like for you without one of your all-time favorite people?
CHARLIE MANUEL: You know, I look at -- like I look at Jimmy's situation and everything. Like I say, Jimmy is going to bounce back and have a big year.
I've had Jimmy told me ever since he was 19 years old. I think I know a lot about him. And I care a lot about him and I think he's ready -- first of all, I think he's ready to go play and have a big year with the White Sox, every bit that Jim Thome has always been.
I think the situation we got in in Philadelphia with Ryan Howard and Jim Thome, I think things are going to work out good for Jimmy. When I talked to him on the phone and everything, he seemed like he's happy about being close to his dad and his family, just like his family life is going to be better and that's fine.
He's going to a real good team and I'll always pull for Jim Thome like I'll always be close to him but at the same time, you know, we got -- we've got a good club and pretty good guy playing first base for us.
I've got a guy I've seen for the last three years and I was fortunate enough to be around in the Minor Leagues. I also like this guy a lot, too. And he's -- he's got a chance to be a special kind of player.
Q. Charlie, when you look at the deal in the long run, the Phillies obviously probably did what they have to do going with a younger guy but in the short run just for 2006, might that not be such a good deal for Philly for one year at least?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it -- I think I've had a lot time to think about it. I think like I said before, I think Jim is going to bounce back and the year he had last year because of his injuries and things like that and I think he's going to have a huge year.
I think if we would have kept him in Philadelphia I think he would have had a huge year. I think that from the standpoint of the fact that we had really two outstanding first basemen and got a young one and I think Jimmy has got some good years left in him but you know Howard proved the second half of the season that he's very deserving.
He's a Rookie of the Year and he did a big job with our club and I think he's going to be a part of our team for along time. I think he's very capable of having a big season for us and he's had many a good seasons in Philly, I feel like. I think the situation like we had to do some things.
I think it was a very tough situation and I think Thome when Jim came to Philadelphia he put together two big seasons for us and he was everything that he was built to be.
That's the situation sometime you get in and you don't like some things do you but some things you have to do and I sit here today and tell you, I've been around Jimmy along time. I definitely didn't want to see him go but baseball sometimes like in life works in strange ways and we've got a good player at first base and Jim is going to do good in Chicago.
I'm going to pull for him like I always did. I'm going to pull for my guy at first base and going to work just as hard with him as I would with Thome, believe me.
Q. You've been around baseball a long time. You've seen a lot of cases where guys come up have a good rookie year, good first half year and can't maintain that, necessarily.
What do you see in Ryan Howard that makes you confident he won't fall into that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Lot of things Jimmy had or has. Ryan Howard is a worker. He's determined. He likes to be there. He has fun playing and not only that, he has a lot of ability as a hitter.
I don't have to sit here and run him up a flag pole. When he hits a ball it speaks for himself. He hits the ball along way just like Jimmy does. He's got power to all fields. He's a good athlete, first baseman.
I think does he need some improvement? Yeah. Like I think he does but at the same time I think this guy is going to work hard like he's going to develop into like a big time player.
Q. Where do you stand on playing Pat Burrell or experimenting with him at first against lefties? That was one of the things that was brought up to kind of ease Ryan in to do well. Where are you on that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: First of all, Ryan hit left handers in the Minor Leagues the two years I saw him. Eventually I know he's going -- I feel like I know he's going to hit lefties in the big league.
I think if we play -- if we could play Pat Burrell on first base on the days we would give Ryan off against the lefty or tough lefty or whatever, and we could have someone like Jason Michaels in left, where we could overload our lineup with the right hand hitters, you talk to all the possibilities and I think that's a possibility. Are we going to do it?
I'm sitting here today. I don't really know. We just have to wait until Spring Training and my might try it if we like it. It could come about. At the same time, I do anticipate Ryan playing some on left hand pitchers.
Q. Charlie, you lost Jimmy and Billy Wagner. They both I think we all know adored you. Is it tough to lose two stalwarts clubhouse allies?
CHARLIE MANUEL: We lost two guys on our team that were what you call that were big part of our clubhouse and Wagner is definitely -- Wagner was the outspoken, standup guy.
I think Jimmy, his presence and who he was and how he went about things and what do you call it, the way that he got along in our clubhouse with the players, I think that kind of person he was like that put played a big role on our team not only with both of them really first class players.
I think guys got to step -- what I mean is, also we're going to have to have some guys step up and let them takeover like the part that we going to miss from those two guys. I think we did get a good ballplayer from Rowand.
I watched him play a lot and this guy right here, he's a baseball player. He's the hard player. He's tough and he's -- he has leadership qualities. I know like from seeing this guy, I know what kind of player he is.
Q. Even aside from Jimmy and Billy's abilities, you had a great chemistry with them. Would you agree with that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yes. I think they played a big part in that.
Q. Does that have any affect on you, not so much -- the whole grand scheme of, you know, in imparting wisdom on a clubhouse, et cetera?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it might take us a little time for someone to replace that but I think usually that works itself out and they were two quality people and in Rowand I felt like we definitely got a quality guy back.
Q. Charlie, one of the Mets big moves --
CHARLIE MANUEL: Excuse me a minute. Also I like we've got a quality guy in Tom Gordon. I was very fortunate to have lunch a couple times with Tom and I got to know him I felt like I got to know him real well and it's very easy to see why he's been unlike his career has been great and he's been a longevity pitcher because just his attitude and who he is. So, you know, we got back two pretty good guys. Yes, sir.
Q. One of the best Mets big moves obviously was at your expense with Wagner. How much is the perceived power in this division maybe shifting towards the Mets away from Atlanta with them losing Furcal and the Mets making all their moves.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Heard that about 13, 14 years somebody is going to -- Phillies are a team, Mets are the team, Marlins are the team. Like all those years somehow Atlanta finds a way to win and they've been there.
Until they get dethroned, I guess you would say they're the champions of our division.
I know this, I know the Mets have with Billy Wagner, they got definitely strong back end of the bullpen because if not the top closer in baseball, he's definitely one of the top three. He's definitely going to help the club. Also when you look around, got Carlos Delgado and position players that they got and their club, I'd say that right now they're strong.
Q. Are you guys as strong?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Are we as strong? Right now I feel like we definitely, we got to get stronger in our pitching department. I think that once we've lost Wagner and you've been in the back end of our bullpen we replaced Billy with Gordon and to me like we need another bullpen piece.
If we would want Madison to set up or leave him in the 7th I think, then have him for the 6th or 7th, you've got to have a setup guy and then we could like we could always -- we definitely need -- at least one starter and so therefore unlike we need -- in order for us to be as strong we've got to beef up our pitching.
Q. So you're not probably not as strong?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Going in I would say we're not as strong as we were maybe at the end of the season because we still need some pitching. But also I felt like last year that we were fortunate to get by with the pitching that we had and like I would like to see us have stronger starting pitcher last year and this coming season.
Q. Charlie, when you managed at Cleveland, how important was Grady Little to your staff there, what kind of guy?
CHARLIE MANUEL: He was my bench coach and did he a tremendous job for us and he brings a lot of relax says, lot of charisma, lot of laughter. He has a southern accent just like I do and he kind of has a way about him that he communicates well with the players and he makes -- he's a pleasant to be around and he -- good atmosphere in your clubhouse and everything.
Good -- very good guy to have on your coaching staff because also he's a hard worker, he's a good baseball man. Been in the game a long time, has a lot of experience. Big winner all through the Minor Leagues. I managed against him in the Minor Leagues a lost. I've known him a long time. Used to whip him.
Q. Charlie, I don't know if you've been asked about this yet, I'm wondering, if you have any concerns about player participation at the World Baseball Classic?
CHARLIE MANUEL: What's that?
Q. Any concerns about player participation at the Baseball Classic?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I know that we're going to have some players in there. I know Utley called me the other day and asked me what I thought about it. He was going to placement I think Jimmy Rollins is going to play. They mentioned Bobby.
Q. Cormier. We've got 8 players.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Mathieson, reliever you got in A ball and I'm sure some of our players are going to play.
I mean I'm all for that. I think that's a good thing. I look at it as kind of also a way of getting in shape and being ready to play when the season starts when our regular major League season opens up.
I mean I think that's okay as long as our pitchers are monitored or whatever but I'm sure it's going to be competitive and I think anytime we play a game, you're going to go out there and give it all you got. I don't see -- I think it's going to be good for baseball, really.
Q. Have you been told anything about what they're going do with the pitchers, as far as protecting them like you mentioned monitoring them?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Not yet. Haven't been told a whole lot about pitch count or going over how many I think so they're going to be or how they're going to use them. I'm kind of sure like probably be just like we're playing in the regular game in Spring Training or regular season game.
Q. Where does Robinson Tejeda fit in at number 6?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Jimmy, I look at him, we haven't really decided but like he could be one of our starters or one ever those bullpen piece that's we want. We need to get our pitching organized, getting it set up. Big deal to us and right now, he could be go either way.
Q. Reports on his shoulder?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Not really. Evidently he's pitching okay because the other guy I flipped my TV on I saw him pitching. I saw him -- he had.
Q. Like this (indicating)?
CHARLIE MANUEL: He had two big earrings. I saw some guy hit a home run-off him. But, you know, he fits -- he definitely fits in some capacity either as a starter or guy in our bullpen.
Q. Some of your guys have everybody that's here now, how do you see your lineup setting up with the guys, Howard with a little more experience?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think Rollins leads off. Kind of like Rollins second, Michaels, bobby or Utley or Utley and Bobby or Burrell, depends on who is pitching and Howard probably hitting somewhere 5, 6. Have Bell, Lieberthal and the pitcher, probably. Basically almost the same setup except Lofton out of our lineup.
Q. You've been down this road before, General Manager, hired by another guy, General Manager comes in. What type of dynamic does that create for the manager when he's working for a guy that didn't hire him?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I don't worry about that. It's up to me to do my job. It's could you please me to convince him that win him over that I'm his guy, I guess. That's how I look at it. It doesn't bother me.
Q. You've been through this before. What was the difference between then early on and now?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think probably the difference -- probably before unlike when I think back, I probably be more, probably be -- I'm communicating more, I'll probably be around my General Manager more.
I want him to get to know me, who I am and what I stand for and what I bring to our club and just how I do things more. I've known Pat Gillick for quite awhile. I have a lot of respect for him.
I've always talked to him when I see him. I'm really looking forward to working for him because he's going to be a hell of a job for us and I think that he's -- I think that he's going to be very good for our ball club. I think he's that we need.
Q. Do you feel more comfortable with him? It seems like he's very inclusive not only of the guys that he has but he wants to solicit your opinion, he wants you to speak, say what you think about things when you deal with us, that sort of thing? Is that different from what you experienced before you left there?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Not really. When I was in Cleveland, I was pretty much turned loose. I think I knew the guy coming in thereafter like 12 years. I'm sure he knew me and so I think Pat definitely got to get to know me a little bit better on a day-to-day basis but the way I think, that doesn't -- kind of -- I do my job and we do it good.
If I do it good enough like I said, things will work out. I ain't got time -- I got to worry about doing my job. I got to worry about winning some games.
I'll be very honest with you. Somebody said, you know, like we start talking about something and I like young players but at the same time I like good players. My time is now. Like General Managers time is now and for the future.
That's kind of how I see it. I -- I'm looking forward to it. I don't see where -- I'm not worried about having a problem with it. I don't see where it's going to bothering me. I'm going to be tied up in the fact I come to the ballpark and want to everyday.
Q. You don't feel like you're on the spot?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I don't, I don't feel like I'm on the spot. Hell, I've been in the game too long to be on the damn spot. I've been on the spot 40 some years. It's not nothing new to me.
Q. Charlie, can you get in better idea maybe of what your lunches were like with Tom, what you talked about a little bit about Gordon, any trepidation about a guy who hasn't closed in a couple of years moving back into that role?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I talked to him at first like the first lunch on, first day I had lunch with him, I sit and talked to him. I talked to him about setting up at that time we were still negotiating with Billy Wagner.
He said he made a statement before that Mariano Rivera was the only guy he setup. When I brought Wagner's name up he said he setup with Wagner in Houston and he said he would do it again. He said that he would be interested in doing that again. Of course, once we lost Billy to the Mets, you know, then, you know I looked at him.
We looked at him more as a closer because in my mind, Wagner, B.J. and Gordon like I think he was one of the top three guys out there. I think we got -- he fit our needs and when second time we had lunch, of course, Billy was with us when we sit down and we talked more direct about him being a closer.
Q. Does his age concern you at all in items of how much the 8th I think role becomes more important? You rode Billy pretty hard last year.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Not really. I think when I look at him necessary tremendous shape. He's a mentally tough guy and he takes real good care of himself. Like I said, that's the part of him being in shape.
If you go back and look, last year's velocity is up. He's added a new pitch. I think the cutter has definitely helped him and he's got a -- still got the same breaking ball. Got a 12 to 6 breaking ball and his velocity is still in the mid '90s.
I think that he -- I think that he throws -- he's got command of his pitches and he had praise for Mariano Rivera.
He said he learned a lot about pitching from limp and things that he didn't really know about the bullpen. He said he also learned a lot about when he had Wagner in Houston.
Billy was the first guy really they used to talk about baseball and how to get prepared in the bullpen. Mariano, he said he learned a whole lot from him. Things that helped him. He said the fact that he been throwing the ball good last year, he said he said he thought about being a closer again. He convinced me that he can do it.
Q. When you talked about Madison, you mentioned him as a 7th I think guy. Do you see anybody in the organization that might be the 8th I think guy or does that have to come from outside that the point?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it could be Madison. It depends on what we could get. I look at Madison, company do it. I look at him, he can do it and also I've kind of, I'm intrigued, for some reason I like him as a starter.
I'd love -- in my mind, things like that, I'd like for a pitching to get strong point in our bullpen where I could definitely or we could definitely put him in our rotation. I've always kind of looked at him that way.
Q. Why do you like him as a starter? He likes to do that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it would organize him more. I think that we sometime worry about his strength and things like that where as I think if he was a starter, he's got three pitches that puts him on a routine. He notice exactly when he's going to pitch. I think he can get ready.
I think he would he did that all through his career in the Minor Leagues and just a style pitcher that he is, I think he's got a very good change up and also if you notice at the end of the season he was having trouble with his breaking ball.
I think coming out of the bullpen he doesn't get to throw his breaking ball enough. I think that would polish up his breaking ball and his fast ball of course sets in the mid '90s.
I also think on days when he doesn't have his good fast ball or his velocity falls off, I think the other two pitches that he has especially his curve ball get better by using it, you know, I think he can take you deep in the game like pitching off of his change up and his breaking ball.
Q. In the perfect world he's a starter.
CHARLIE MANUEL: I look at him --
Q. He can go 6.
CHARLIE MANUEL: I'm one of the guys -- of course, I'm the manager. I look at him as the guy for me as a starter but at the same time it depends on the importance of our club and I think also in today's time you might say I'm not hurting because you can make money nowadays being both. He's not going to get cheated out of the money. He'll be able to earn the same money or whatever in both roles.
Eventually -- look eight he can pitch in the 8th I think. I'll rephrase what I said. He can pitch in the 8th I think. That's no problem.
Q. Do you have to add one or two guys in the bullpen from the outside in order for him administrator a starter candidate?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Actually I like to add two but at the same time unlike if we get into spring train and we see something that we like, say in someone there that -- where we can push him forward, that makes our rotation much stronger.
Q. You say -- if Robinson Tejeda really pitches well in Spring Training, that could change around Madson's status?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think at Spring Training performance any of our young pitchers, I think that could definitely change. I think that can change our whole -- the pitcher of our pitching staff as far as our bullpen and our starter.
Q. Pat provides the players. It's for you to play them the way you want. That's what he said the day he announced Nunez.
How do you see that working with David? David hit .199.
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think -- you know, I haven't even talked about that but nobody ever asked me that since we've gotten it. But I look at that, I like what Nunez said. You know, like going in. David Bell is the is the third baseman. Like Nunez said he came to play and I think that -- I mean he's right now, he's a utility player and -- but it's also up to me to get him playing time and more likely without a doubt. We didn't bring him not to play him so he's going to get to play but right now David Bell he's the third baseman.
I think that that's the way to put that. I think I heard Nunez say if I hit good enough and I play good enough I'll get to placement that's a pretty good way right now to handle. That's a good way to assess it.
Q. Do you look at Nunez more as a utility guy. Is Nunez more of a guy you want to get into the lineup more or really depends on how well he hits in your mind?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think that he -- first of all, I think he's a pretty good player. I think he can play -- he definitely can play all three positions and he filled in last year for Rolen at third base and, you know, I think anytime if we have a player struggling or something like that, yeah, if we've got a guy like say Nunez or blank company or somebody like that, fits in that kind of role, I think that -- we can make adjustments and like they'll get to play.
Q. Will he see significant time against tough lefties at second base?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Every now and then probably I want to give Chase a day off. How many days you going give somebody like that days off in kind of depends on how they going at that time or what you think. If they -- he probably play some. How much, I don't know. I look the Utley everyday player.
Everyday player sometimes. I look for me everyday player is anywhere from 145 games to 162. I mean, you know but more than likely, Bobby played 162 last year. 162, there's not tomorrow guys play that. Usually they play from 140 to some mare 162.
Q. What about Delgado last year?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think one time down around August at the first of September, I think he was starting to where down so but I think he came back. I think he finished especially when we got big hits down the stretch for us and finished strong and held up pretty good. Held up better than I actually thought he did.
I'm a guy when I played, I know how much you never been there sometimes, it takes you a long time to break into get used to playing pro ball in the Minor Leagues that extra month in major league, sometimes that means a whole lot. Means more than people really realize.
Q. It sounds as if you're more inclined to put Chase in the game against right handers than Ryan? Is that accurate if you stack your lineup that way?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Right now probably, yeah. You know, I think that's also something like Howard -- depends on how guys do. How things work. I think for some reason I know I hit Bobby in the 4 hole.
I'm not saying I want to do that. His on base percentage, stuff like that kind of floats in my mind in the wintertime hitting third. Also I can hit him fourth. Those things I think I can play with and I don't think -- I think that we can work those things out, really. I think about your about your recently will hit fourth lefties like he did last year.
I think those are things that will work out. I think on given days, sometime we can hit Bobby, Burrell, Howard or Utley, we could hit anyone ever those guys. Right now I'd say Ryan is more apartment, he'll stay somewhere around 5th or 6th hole.
Q. When you look at the leadership you lost -- one of the guys seemed to step up two, three times last year both on foot he had and clubhouse was Chase.
Did you recognize that and do you think that he is -- he's able to I don't know, take that, to another level this year as far as being a leader in the clubhouse?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I recognize that. I recognized Utley's, who he was two years ago when he played Triple A baseball. I went and sat on the bench and watched Chase. He's got a gut on him. I didn't say a whole lot to Utley. I loved the way he played.
I told you guys about him when I saw him that night an the way he handled himself, I knew right then he had a chance mentally a very mentally tough player. He's the kind of player that you want and I guys that likes to be there and I think that he'll never tell you how much he really loves to play baseball but he don't have to because it's just around him and watch him, you'll see how much he likes it and I talked to him a couple times this winter.
Like I said to him, at the end of the year I told him, Utley, you had a hell of a year. You had a big season. He looked at me says, "There's more there, Charlie." You know, just who he is and like that. You see it. I get a real good feel for him. Yeah, he definitely can be a leader on our build.
Q. Charlie, you made the earlier comment that you think Pat is just what this team needs. Could you expound on that, maybe the reasons why?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think that, you know; I think that first of all, you know, like Eddie weighed hired me. I did not.
Q. I didn't want to see Eddie leave his job. To me like I saw a part I think of Eddie that nobody at the media and fans didn't get to see because I was around him probably a little bit more, and I have a lot of respect for him.
Like when he was dismissed and we went out to get a General Manager, like I had no idea who it was going who they was going to get. They went through the process of finding someone and when they brought Pat in here, I was the big I have thing that surprised me is how he -- he is a listener.
I heard him say in his press conference he's a good listener and he delegates things. He delegates everybody to his own job and he let's them do their job and he's a go-getter and knows a lot of people in the game. He has -- he has a personality.
He has a big personality that comes out. He has a sense of humor that's relaxes way. But yet at the same time this guy is high passion for the game and everything.
He's all baseball and everything. When I sat and talked to him, it's all baseball. He's kind of a pleasure to be around. Not only that, I know that he's there to win. I made the statement I come to Philadelphia last year when I sit and talked to your guys, I told you I took the job to win and I still mean that. I want to win this year. I feel like that he came here to win. I feel like that he's -- where he's at, he's down the road in his career. I think that he wants to win and he wants to win just as bad as I do.
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