February 08, 2005

Charlie says 'Relax'

Like the cheerful '80s band Frankie Goes to Hollywood, pictured right, Charlie Manuel and the smiling faces of the new Phillies coaching staff are telling players to 'Relax.'

Ken Mandel and Mike Gennaria of mlb.com finally did what I would have done months ago with access to MLB personnel: offer detailed profiles of manager Charlie Manuel and the completely revamped coaching staff.

Imagine going to work to find your boss, your boss's boss, your boss's boss's boss, and his boss replaced by a barbershop quartet.

That's what it could feel like in the Phillies dugout this season. The names Bill Dancy, Mark Bombard and Rich Dubee may not be familiar to fans, but in baseball, they're considered excellent coaching talents with agreeable personalities. In fact, they're already singing the same tune:

Charlie Manuel: "I want our teams to be relaxed, loose and play hard each day,"
Rich Dubee: "I wanted guys that love the game. Guys that can relax, but guys that know the best way to have fun is to win."
Mark Bombard: "I think the big thing is being positive."

Wow. It's enough to bring Eagles fans off suicide watch.

Some critics grumble about players' managers, also saying the new staff lacks major-league experience.

But just as players earn respect and gain experience through the minor league system, it's no different with managers.

First-base coach and former Scranton manager Mark Bombard may not have been a member of the 1980 Phillies, but he was once named minor league manager of the year by USA Today. In fact, his 1,556 career victories leads all active minor league managers, Mandel reported.

Fans won't hear anymore tales of the pitching coach getting into players' heads. New coach Rich Dubee promises to be more hands-off than professor Joe Kerrigan, who reportedly clashed with players and tinkered too often with mechanics. Fans of practical baseball philosophy will appreciate his refreshing approach that stresses location and control.

"We have a good defensive club," he said. "When you look at our infield, it's pretty solid. I hope that's how we attack people - keep the ball on the ground as much as possible, and use [the infielders]."

And how's this for a thoughtful interpretation of Citizen’s Bank Park?

"I think you've got to give a park some time before you say it's a bandbox or it plays small. The fact of the matter is it's our home ballpark. If we keep the ball down and in the middle of the ballpark, we'll be successful."

BPF Take
Never one to believe managers impact the game as a pitcher pitches, a hitter hits, and a fielder fields, I'm going with gut instinct in saying Manuel and company will have a positive impact on performance and keep the Phils loose all season.

Good writing
The staff at MLB.com, including Mandel and Gennaria, are compiling the best damn Phillies writing on the Web these days. Check them out at phillies.com, and see what you think about the new coaching regime and other topics.


At 6:04 PM, Blogger Tom G said...

I think the do a good job as well, but as with every article that originates on MLB.com, I question their objectivity. I know there is a tagline at the bottom that claims "not subject to the approval", but still...

At 8:30 PM, Blogger Jason Weitzel said...

I wonder about that disclaimer, too. But the writing is strong, and they've been very proficient this winter. Most importantly, they manage to answer some of the questions I have, albeit with a positive spin. I figure this time of year, no one else is doing the leg work and getting interviews.

At 3:41 PM, Blogger el123chico said...

damn shame that ron bradley's entrance music was "the safety dance" thinking back 3-D should have come out to "Relax"


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