Charlie Manuel

Charlie Manuel inducted into the Phillies’ Wall of Fame

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Prior to tonight’s game against the Mets, former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was inducted into the Wall of Fame, which is behind the batter’s eye at Citizens Bank Park. Manuel is the 36th Phillie to receive the honor, following starter Curt Schilling last year and catcher Mike Lieberthal in 2012.

The ceremony began with current inductees walking to a podium on a red carpet from the dugout, one at a time. They included Jim Bunning, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa, Darren Daulton, and former Phillies manager Dallas Green. Green introduced Manuel with a brief speech, and Lieberthal presented Manuel with his Phillies Wall of Fame jersey. Roy Halladay made an appearance to present Manuel with a miniature Wall of Fame plaque to take home, and Jim Thome — Manuel’s favorite — unveiled the actual Wall of Fame plaque.

A brief video montage played at Citizens Bank Park before Manuel stepped to the podium to address the crowd. He was effusive in his praise of everyone he ever worked with, from his coaches to the training staff to his players. He said that he never intended to be a World Series-winning manager; he just wanted to teach and be able to show up at the ballpark to take batting practice. Lastly, he thanked the fans for not allowing the team to ever quit.

Manuel wrapped up his speech, saying “I’m going to shut up because I want to see the game.” Before departing, he yelled the four words for which is most famous: “This is for Philadelphia!” after the Phillies won the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. The speech was typical Charlie: positive, charming, and funny.

Manuel managed the Phillies for nine years from 2005-13, leading them to five consecutive NL East titles from 2007-11. He was at the helm when the team ended its 13-year playoff drought in 2007, ultimately being swept out of the NLDS by the Rockies. After winning it all in 2008, the Phillies lost the World Series in six games to the Yankees in 2009, fell in six games to the Giants in the NLCS in 2010, and suffered a Game Five loss to the Cardinals in the 2011 NLDS. Manuel went 780-636 overall with the Phillies. He was fired after 120 games last season, when the team was 53-67. Former Phillies prospect Ryne Sandberg took the reins in his place.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.