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December 7, 2010

Charlie Manuel


Q. How active have you been in possibly the search for another bat? How involved has Ruben gotten you? Can you talk about some names?
CHARLIE MANUEL: He just kind of fills me in on things that they talk about, like who is available. Right now I just get the information that they have in our meetings. I was in there this morning for a couple of hours. That is the first time I've been in there since I've been down here. They went over some stuff about our team and some things that we felt like are needs and things. But at the same time, they just fill me in on what's going on.

Q. Do you feel like you need another right-handed bat?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I feel like we can always use a good bat. But at the same time, I also feel like -- I say it every year, somebody always seems like they always step up. You know, we've got Brown and we've got Francisco, and we've got some guys that we definitely need to see play.
In some ways I'm concerned, but at the same time I'm not all against making sure they get a good chance. I can see what they can do. You know, I think spring training will take care of those things, but at the same time I think if there's a way that we can find a right-hand bat, a good one that's going to improve our team, I feel like we'll definitely try to go get it.

Q. Even though the season ended with him not playing much, do you think he would be better served starting the season in Triple-A, or do you think you can get him enough at-bats in situations?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think spring training is going to be big for him. I think first of all when he came up when Victorino got hurt during the season, I think, what, when Victorino came back somewhere around the 12th or 15th of August, and if we had sent him out, you're talking two weeks. I don't think that hurt his development any. But at the same time we kept him on our roster and everything because we felt like, especially at that time that he might be capable of coming off the bench and helping us and might get to play every now and then. But he definitely didn't finish the way that we wanted him to, of course. But that wasn't all his fault.
I just saw where they took him out of winter ball or he left winter ball or something. I'm not worried about that. I'm not worried about him getting off to a bad start. But there have been a lot of players that have gone to winter ball, and there are a lot of players that haven't done well and got sent home. I think spring training is going to be really big for him. I think we're going to get a lot of work in with him. I think GG and myself, I think we're going to talk a lot about his hitting and work with him some. I think he's going to get to play a lot, and we can work with all of his game. Basically his baseball game period, running bases, defense, and we're going to try to get him to the point where we can see how good he is.
I definitely think he deserves a good chance and he's going to get it. I'm not ready to send him to the minor leagues yet. I'm not ready to say, hey, look, this guy's going to the minor leagues. I want to take a good look at him.

Q. Will you tutor him at all this winter?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, I think it's something -- I'm getting ready to go to Philly next week. I think Greg and I will definitely talk about that because we could bring him in early and talk to him, also work some with him in the cage and stuff. But I don't know exactly if we're going to do that yet or not, but we could do that.

Q. Ruben has talked a lot about how he thinks the priority is with the bullpen. How concerned are you with your bullpen at the moment?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think he's right. I think he's definitely right, and I agree with that. We could use a lefty in the pen. But at the same time when I think about our bullpen, if we're talking about an early left-hander, I think that I'd rather have the best pitcher that you could find. I think length in our bullpen, because I think Contreras as we're set up, Contreras, and Madsen, and Lidge are our back end guys. Then I feel like somewhere along the line we have to have some length. I feel like Baez is strictly a one inning guy.
At this time last year I was thinking Baez could go two innings, but I think this year we found out he's basically a one-inning guy. We could try to get a good, solid season out of him next year. So at the same time, we might need some length in our bullpen, especially if we lose Durbin.

Q. Out on the market is Jeff Francoeur. If Ruben said to you, do you think you can fix him? Do you think you could fix his swing because he had success early and sort of has not had had that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think GG could fix him (laughing). I think. You know something, I've always liked Francoeur. I've always thought he had a lot of talent, and he proved that, I think, when he first came to the big leagues. For some reason the last couple years he hasn't produced in a way that you would want him to or like to see him. But at the same time if he had been playing a lot better, then more than likely he wouldn't be available today. I know the kid. If you go ask him, he'll tell you that he's going to do better and he wants to do better, and he knows he's better, how he's been the last year or two, because he's that kind of guy.
I think when you look at someone like that, that's baseball. Sometimes those are the guys that step up. And I'm sure you're going to ask me about Jayson Werth, but I remember when Jayson Werth was guys like that. Those are guys that some people got ability, and those are the guys you take the chance on.
And Francoeur has been in the big leagues a while and has some experience. I think he definitely hasn't reached his potential yet and he's capable of putting together some good seasons.

Q. As a hitting guy when you watch him, you'd say, yeah, I see something in his swing that if he did different, he'd be better?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, I see some mechanics and things that I would like to talk and sit down and talk with him. Also like GG and I would like to sit down and go over his approach and things like that. I see some things that I would like to suggest to him, only if he's on your team though.

Q. Only if he's on your team though, right?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Only if he's on my team.

Q. What do you think of Howard's power last year? I know he missed only a couple weeks, but it was 15 days and he wasn't hitting as many home runs as he had in the past. Any theories on that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Not really. I think what it is is getting the ball up in the air. I think to me it wasn't a Ryan Howard year. But at the same time I look for Ryan to come back and have a big year. I look at Ryan as a 40 to 50 home run guy, and you know about 125 to 140 RBIs. That is kind of who he is. That's who I think he is.
The fact that he hit 31, he knocked in 107-108 or something, I mean, he finished the season with a hurt ankle. He actually, I'll not making an excuse. We don't use excuses for things. But at the same time I felt like that was his back side, and he was not using his legs at the end of the year.
When he came back, he didn't use his legs at all, and hitting his balance and rhythm and getting a good push off the back side. That's where your power lies. He was having trouble staying on his back side.

Q. Do you think you can be a better team? You won the most games in baseball last year. Now you take away Jayson Werth, you're still putting together your bullpen, how can you be a better team?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I know we can be a better team. I'll tell you that. I know we can be a better team. I think what you saw last year, I think from one stretch there when our offense sputtered, I felt like we never got back to the place where we could -- that I know we could be productive. When I say be better, I know Utley's capable of doing better. I know Howard's capable of doing better. And I know Victor Reno can do better, and I know Jimmy Rollins has to do better for us. And I know all four of those players. I know that they're going to work hard and they're going to -- and we can do better. I look for us to be better. I demand that of us. I think that our team is that way. I think we've got those kind of guys.
I think that's baseball, and that's the way it happens. There are some things we did from an offensive standpoint. Like we got to get out of some bad habits. A lot of it comes from the fact that some guys in our lineup try to hit home runs instead of being who they are. Once we go back and say how did it get that way? That's kind of the way the game goes at times.

Q. Have you had a serious conversation at all with Jimmy between the end of the season and now? Two years now he's kind of underperformed a little bit. Last year of his contract coming off. And obviously he could be a huge part for you guys?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yes, go ahead.

Q. Have you talked to him? And even if not, what does he need to do to be that guy that you said you have to have?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Since the season was over, I've talked to Halladay when he won the Cy Young, and I called Victorino when he got a Golden Glove, but couldn't get him. Left him a message. Told him he didn't have to call me back. And I talked to Ryan Howard. But those are the only guys I've talked to.
After these meetings are over here, I'll touch base with all of them. But before the season was over I talked to Jimmy a few times, I would say more than two or three whatever, about his season and what he's going to do. He knows exactly what he has to do and where he's at from a conditioning standpoint, taking care of Hill self. He revealed to me that he wanted to play another six years. We talked about things that he had to do, and I told him how he's got to go about it.
We'll see. Jimmy Rollins is a very talented player. We need him to have a Jimmy Rollins year. That's all.

Q. Do you think he's just felt like he's never had to do that kind of stuff before and he's getting older now, when you talk about the conditioning and off-season type of stuff, what does he need to do that's different and why does he need to do that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think sometimes when he's had a couple of down seasons for him. I feel like he realizes how can he improve? First of all, he can make sure that he's strong, he's in good shape, he did his work, and he's ready to go. He can adapt better work ethics during the season. He knows all that. Then you get back to the point how much does he want to? Can I push him? Yeah, I'll try. At the same time, he's the guy that's doing the playing.
I've known him for six, seven years, and I know how much he likes to play. I look for him to come back and have a tremendous year for us.

Q. I think it's interesting that you say Utley can come back, Howard can come back, but Jimmy has to come back. Is that a statement to how important he is to the lineup and getting the offense to be?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, we need him to stay healthy. When I say come back, that is a big thing he has to stay healthy. Another thing is we need his game. We need his offense and base stealing. That goes, of course, with the offense. And we need his defense, we need his presence. He carries that much weight with us. We've always considered him our go guy. He's still that guy. He's not going downhill. I've heard people say some remarks about our guys that are getting older. Yeah, they're getting older, but they're 30, 31, 32, baseball-wise, that is right in the prime of your career. I think it's just a matter of us putting together a big, solid season.

Q. You mentioned guys getting bad habits and springing for home runs all the time. When did it become like guys, you're a hitting guy. When did guys break out 140, 150 times a season and it's not embarrassing anymore. When did that change?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think that started changing a few years ago. How many, I don't know exactly. But when you look around, I think that guys, it's not make an adjustment with two strikes on you. It's not wanting to put the ball on play. The biggest part about it is I've got to go saying. Ted Williams' book when he writes, Know Thyself. I tell the player my philosophy on that is Know Thyself and know everything about yourself. Know what kind of player you are, and what you have to do. Know what got you to the Major Leagues and what being successful is. And know exactly what kind of hitter you are. I mean, just because you can hit 12, 15 home runs and you can hit 240, 250 that doesn't mean you have a solid season. You know, there are guys that get paid to set the table and get on base and steal bases and work the count and everything, and that's where the Ryan Howard and Utley's and those guys that knock them in come into play. Realize what's the most important thing for our team.
A lot of times, too, the game is the number one priority. I say that since I've been managing here. When we come to the ballpark, our philosophy is playing the everyday, and playing in that moment every day. That means that we came to win the game and how we're going to win it and what it takes for us to play the right kind of baseball. What is our ball? What is Philly's baseball? That's our fast guys getting on base, and running, and getting runners in scoring position for our big power hitters. Guys that can knock in the runs. When we get away from that, you start seeing our offense sputter and things like that.
Yeah, we talk about it and try to get back into play. But where you do it at is in the game. It's focus and determination and all of that. We've always had great determination. But sometimes there's a lot of distractions that goes on, and you can't get caught up in it.
Success sometimes can also be bad for you in some ways. If you let it. Success for a long time is excellence, that's what I talk about a lot. When you start dropping off and your performances start dropping off and your on-base percentage or batting average, and just the way you play, if the games in general, then it's time for you to pick it up and try to do better and put more into it. And how you do that is by practicing, and making sure you're in good shape and ready to play.

Q. What have you seen from Francisco or why do you think if he ends up being the platoon guy, the right-handed at-bat, why do you think he can be successful? He hasn't played a heck of a lot the last couple of years, if he ends up being the guy?
CHARLIE MANUEL: The biggest thing for me with Ben is he shows the fastball, and he shows that he is a good looking hitter at times. Seems like especially since he's been with us, we always said to Jayson Werth, we had Ibanez, we've had Victorino, they've been ahead of him. The one reason they've been ahead of him is because they're more established. They've earned the righting and things like that.
I think he's never really gotten to play on a regular basis, especially with us. I think you've got to give him a chance. But also I see when I think of his game, Ben can be a little bit more aggressive. He can create a little bit more energy. He's got to work a little harder like in the outfield. What I'm saying is nothing I haven't talked to him about before. He's got to be -- when he gets to play, he's got to show that he can keep his job.

Q. Are he and Glad , are they adequate right fielders or would they be a liability defensively for you?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think Ben especially can be better than what we've seen in the outfield. I think that he is a better outfielder. Because sometimes when you don't get to play, your timing in the outfield is off or your fielding and your defense is off. And your timing is everything in this game.
I think Gload's more of a tremendous first baseman, he's a good pinch hitter. You can plug him in the outfield every now and then. I don't think he's a guy that we can turn loose for four or five days a week. I think one or two days a week might be okay. But he's not a guy -- because actually he's never really played a lot in the outfield.

Q. What do you think about more teams being in the playoffs, the discussion on that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Actually, I think my opinion, I'm always open for improvement of things that I think is better. But when I look at it, I think the season's already 162 games, and I then we have the playoff, and time- wise the season gets real long. I think if we start playing around Thanksgiving, it would be like going back to Japan and playing. I'd get in the World Series in Japan. It wasn't like I didn't want to get in it.
But at the same time we'd take a week or two off, and all you do is go run, play, and talk to the media. It's more of a show. All of a sudden you look up and I was getting home after Thanksgiving. And I was going back over there in January.
That's kind of what we're going to get into. The longer the seasons go, we're going to be playing year round.

Q. So you don't like it?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I would say until somebody shows me what's beneficial or better, I'd say I like it more the way it sets up now.

Q. What were your thoughts on Werth's departure? Were you surprised like many people at how much money he got?
CHARLIE MANUEL: First of all, Jayson, the time he was with us, he improved. He was a big part of our offense, of course, and he's a good player. When a guy becomes a free agent, he's earned the right to be a free agent. That's kind of how I see it. More than likely, guys liked it when they have success, they like to go out in open market and see what their worth is.
Basically, I think that's kind of what the game is all about. He just so happens he went and got very rich. He can always drop me a loan or something or send me some of that money. That is quite a bit of money for one guy (laughing).

Q. Not related to Jayson in particular because he's a position player, but what do you see as the dangers of offering a pitcher six, seven, eight-year contracts?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I would say I feel like not only what you're talking about, not only pitchers, I feel like age comes into factor anymore. I guess I'm old school. Can I just say about our players in their peaks of their career, I go back to that. Myself, I'm leery when a guy crosses 35 years old. That's a time when you start seeing him start going downhill some. He tapers off. And he starts going down or going this way instead of staying up at his peak. I'm always leery of that.
But at the same time there are guys that sometimes they prove that theory wrong. But I would say there is more happens what I'm talking about then you're all right. But at the same time, pitchers are more inclined to get hurt anymore. But also I think they bounce back better than they used to.
There is guy when I look at somebody like Halladay or guys like that, I think with the conditioning program that they have, I think that he can pitch as long as he wants to.
I look at Jamie Moyer, Jamie Moyer's 48 years old. He didn't light up a radar gun. But at the same time at 48 years old to come and pitch, and if you were to come and see Hill work out and what he did in his routine and everything and so dedicated, you can probably understand how he could stay out that long. It's a gamble. It's a chance you take. Sometimes in baseball the length of a guy's contract doesn't play out too good.

Q. Are you surprised at the amount of Werth's contract? It seemed like superstar money.
CHARLIE MANUEL: I knew Jayson was going to get some pretty good money, I mean, good money. But I didn't know he would get that much money. That kind of surprised me, yeah.

Q. Your club's had a great run for three years. What's gone into keeping the fires burning, so to speak, for that long a period of time?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think we've been able to -- first of all, I think we like to play. I think that our fans come to the ballpark. We've been filling our ballpark up for the last four or five years. I think that the whole environment, and the fact that it seems like we've been very fortunate that we can battle through the injuries, we've been resilient, we've had a tremendous attitude. I used to say I'll work with the attitude. Kind of changed my thinking a little bit. I think number one is our priority. We've been fortunate and lucky enough that this past season we landed Roy Oswalt. A year before that we got Lee. We've always had help come along. We've been lucky as far as we've hit things that are needs and during the season, and that's really helped us and gotten us through, I felt like.
I feel like we expect to play. Right now if you walk through our clubhouse and look at our players, I think when they start the season, we expect to go the World Series. Our guys are very disappointed at the end of the year when we got beat. Really disappointed. Actually, they were down more than I've ever seen them.
I know when we go to spring training, our ultimate goal is to get back to the World Series and win. I think with the people that we have on our team and the attitude of those people and the make-up, I think we stand a good chance of it.
I think that you tinker with some of our team, and if we can hit some areas where we can get a little bit stronger, I think we'll be fine.

Q. Did it take you longer to recover from this than the year before even just in terms of getting over losing it, especially after having the best record in baseball?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Winning's hard, but losing is really hard. I mean, what the hell? Especially like we played all year long, you look at the scoreboard every night, and somebody flashes on the scoreboard and talks about us winning. All the guys coming on and telling us what we're going to do, and how we're going to play and win and things like that. You see that every night, that's all you think about. You get caught up and tied up in it.
All of a sudden somebody tells you got beat and you have to go home, that don't sit too good, especially when you didn't reach your goal. And it is a long season.
Also I think sometimes that people forget how hard it is to win. Winning, there is nothing easy about winning. Winning, you have a price to pay, and also it's dedication, it's hard work. It takes guys like Halladays, and Utleys, and guys like that to have a lot of determination and their make-up and everything. That builds in with your team. When you do all that and you get beat, hey, it's tough.
If you care anything about the game and winning is what you're about or what you're thinking about, then, yeah. It's going to hurt for a while.
At the same time, you get over it, and you get over it because you're looking forward to the next day and you're looking to go back out there and get better. I look at it as I want to see us get better and go back out there to see who else we can beat again. I'm still chasing those Yankees.

Q. Have you thought about how you'll construct your lineup now that Werth is not there? Do you think you need a right-handed bat behind Howard? Are there things that you can do? Werth was just always that guy.
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think of what we got. I think we're still okay. I think we can maneuver our lineup. At the same time we have to have those guys that have had those good years before. We have to step up. We have to put together the kind of seasons that we're capable of having.
There is a chance we're going to miss Werth because he's a good player and the things he did for us. At the same time, somebody always steps up, the game keeps moving along. That's how I think and how we have to think. Werth beat somebody out. Now there were jobs opened up where Victorino got to play, and I look at baseball the same way. We've been in baseball a long time, and that's how you look at it. You got to go try to find somebody that's going to replace him. It's not like you have an excuse for not replacing him and stuff like that. No, we're going to find somebody to replace him.

Q. How much do you view Washington now as a threat to your division?
CHARLIE MANUEL: They've been getting better the last couple years. Of course they've got to get their big boy healthy. They're coming. They're getting better. Yeah, anymore in the game you can make the right signs, can you get the players and it can really help you. That can take you a long ways. They're getting better. It seems like by signing Jayson, that shows they're definitely trying to get better and the fact who they have coming.
The hitter they drafted last year, he's good. He's gonna be real good. Of course, their pitcher is very good.

Q. If you don't end up adding anybody, who do you see now hitting behind Howard? Will you put Ibanez in there, J-Roll, Francisco if he's your right-handed at-bat? If you had to throw it out there today?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I would say if I had to throw it out there today we've got some right-handed hitters sitting there. One of those would be Howard, especially on right-handed pitchers. But at the same time Dominique Brown is young. If he can play every day, fine. We're going to find somebody to hit behind Howard.
Last year, you guys always heard me talk about the lefties on lefties things like this. Go back and look. What happened was righties didn't really produce on the lefties, though we did have a winning record during the season against left-handed pitchers.
At the same time, with Howard and Utley, if you go back and look at their production against left-handed pitchers than the righties.

Q. You're talking about sending him down to the minors, but could he be an everyday player because of the lefties?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think starting out of spring training, I've seen guys. I've seen other teams take players and turn them loose. I think there is a difference between a good are noted hitter and good left-handed hitter. I think when a guy's young, he has to play a while for you before you turn him loose. I think that's you getting to know him, and you having a plan for him. And you're letting him grow into being a big leaguer.

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