Charlie Manuel is one of only two managers in Phillies history to win a World Series. If the Phillies win 103 games this season, he will be the winningest manager in Phillies’ history.
Given his already solidified spot in Phillies’ lore, it would seem obvious that the Phillies front office would do
everything they can to lock Manuel down in the red and white pinstripes for many years to come. However, the Phillies and Manuel still have not reached an agreement for a contract extension for beyond the 2011 season.
"We've been working at it since December, and hopefully we'll get something done," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said. "I would view it as a fluid process from our standpoint.”
Amaro’s lack of urgency is unavoidably unnerving. To delay on Manuel’s extension would be to insult the integrity of who could be the greatest manager in Phillies’ history by the time his career is over. That is if he even gets to stay here past this season.
"I went through a situation a few years ago the same way, and every now and then you might think about something, but at the same time you stay focused on where you are going," Manuel said. "You stay busy, and if you do your job right, then things will work out."
But this isn’t just about getting an extension for Manuel; the timeliness of the extension is exponentially important. The Phillies and Manuel were expected to make an agreement prior to spring training, but the extension never came. And now that the Phillies have reported to Clearwater, Manuel’s contract becomes an unneeded distraction.
"Hopefully something happens in spring training," Manuel said. "My contract, I definitely don't want it to be a
distraction for our team because I definitely put my team first. The players, that's why I get a contract. That's the
whole purpose of me doing what I do."
Manuel has rightfully requested for the contract dispute to be settled sometime before the regular season starts.
"Once the season starts, I don't want to talk about my contract," Manuel said.
But the contract isn’t just a distraction for Manuel and the team, but also for the Phillies’ front office who as of right now will be paying Joe Blanton way too much money this year and won’t have a stable situation in right field. Signing Manuel prior to the regular season should be Amaro and the Phillies’ front office top responsibility.
"We want him to be our manager," Amaro said. "And we're hopeful we can make that happen."
"I'm not worried about that," Manuel added. "It wouldn't be the first time in the world where a manager goes into the season without a contract extension. There's a lot of those, actually."
Manuel, who turned 67 in January, is expected to earn around $3 million this year. He has a 544-428 record in his six years with the team, including four division titles, two National League pennants, and a World Series championship.