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.

Yasmani Grandal signs a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox

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The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.

Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.

The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.

The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.