Charlie Manuel, no regrets!

“Never, never waste a minute on regret. It’s a waste of time.”
Harry S. Truman

On Wednesday, January 27, 1982, the Philadelphia Phillies traded shortstop Larry Bowa and prospect Ryne Sandberg to the Chicago Cubs for shortstop Ivan DeJesus.  Sandberg went on to become a Hall of Fame 2nd Baseman.  For the past thirty-one years, Phillies fans have regretted that transaction as perhaps the worst in their club’s history.

sandbergDutch Psychologist Marcel Zeelenberg describes regret as “a negative, cognitively based emotion that we experience when realizing or imagining that our present situation would have been better, had we decided differently”.  If you missed that, it’s a NEGATIVE EMOTION.  And, Phillies fans do exactly as Zeelenberg describes.  We imagine our present situation, one World Series since 1980, would be better had Ryne Sandberg been the Phillies’ second baseman for a decade or so.  We believe, at the very least, 1993’s World Series could’ve ended up dramatically different—with a parade down Broad Street.

Because regret is a negative emotion, people are inherently averse to it and will make decisions based on trying to avoid any believed “anticipatory regret” possibilities.   Sometimes, people will even choose the riskier option if they believe that option will minimize anticipatory regret. (The Influence of Regret and Negative Affect on Decision Making, Stephen Semcho)

So, where does the regret of that Sandberg trade have the Phillies fan-base?  It has them clutching to coach Ryne Sandberg, frightened of the thought that the Phillies may lose out on him once again. It has them fine with their current skipper, Charlie Manuel, going into this season as a lame-duck manager without an extension.

charlie_trophyThat’s right; Charles Fuqua Manuel has no contract with the Philadelphia Phillies after this season.   This is the man who led us out of the darkness of twenty-five years without a Championship—over 96 sports seasons when combining all four sports teams.  Have we forgotten how bad that drought felt?  Or, is that negative emotion of regret and the fear of anticipatory regret clouding our judgment?

Manuel’s critics point to in-game decisions as his flaw.  They claim that he’s out-coached by the Tony LaRussa’s and Bruce Bochy’s of the world.  Sometimes, he is.  Sometimes, he isn’t.  I do know that Charlie Manuel ranks 27th all-time in career managerial winning percentage, while LaRussa ranks 67th and Bochy ranks 142nd.

Dallas Green is on the pedestal of revered sports figures in Philadelphia because of his 1980 World Series Championship.  Green still works as an advisor with the Phillies ball-club.  No one challenges Dallas Green’s “baseball mind.”

How does Manuel’s career managerial winning percentage stand up against Dallas Green’s:

Rk

Mgr

G

W

L

W-L%

27

Charlie Manuel

1706

947

759

0.555

178

Dallas Green

932

454

478

0.487

Charlie is coaching the greatest Phillies team of all-time.  That is what his critics often say.  Dallas Green didn’t coach a bunch of minor leaguers.  He had Hall of Famers Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt, as well as Larry Bowa, Tug McGraw, Greg Luzinski and other solid ballplayers.  Aside from Roy Halladay, there aren’t any guaranteed Hall of Famers on Manuel’s past rosters.

Here is how Manuel’s career winning percentage stands up against other respected managers:

 

Mgr

G

W

L

W-L%

27

Charlie Manuel

1706

947

759

0.555

42

Sparky Anderson HOF

4030

2194

1834

0.545

61

Tony LaRussa

5097

2728

2365

0.536

75

Tom Lasorda HOF

3040

1599

1439

0.526

101

Lou Piniella

3548

1835

1713

0.517

178

Dallas Green

932

454

478

0.487

One thing that should never be underestimated in an MLB manager’s skill set is the ability to keep the clubhouse together and on the same page.  Managing the egos of millionaires is no easy task.  This is where Manuel excels.  Manuel’s players like playing for him.  The Phillies have had no real clubhouse issues or off-the-field distractions, with the exception of Brett Myers’ arrest for assault against his wife in 2006.  He has a crew of assistant coaches to assist with in-game decisions, but the mentality of the club rests on the manager’s shoulders.  Manuel’s shoulders have held up just fine.

Letting Charlie walk at the end of this season and promoting Sandberg to manager is definitely the riskier decision.  The Phillies know what they have in Charlie, a World Series winning manager.  This is there regret comes into play.  That fear of losing out on Sandberg again could lead the Phillies down the wrong path.

Is the Sandberg hype deserved?  As a manager, he has a career winning percentage of .517.  Sandberg has also gotten to the League Finals twice, but lost.  These stats are decent, but not mind-blowing.

Year

Team

League

Record

Finish

Organization

2007

Peoria Chiefs

Midwest League

71-68

7th

Chicago Cubs

2008

Peoria Chiefs

Midwest League

60-78

12th

Chicago Cubs

2009

Tennessee Smokies

Southern League

71-69

3rd

Chicago Cubs

2010

Iowa Cubs

Pacific Coast League

82-62

1st (t)

Chicago Cubs

2011

Lehigh Valley IronPigs

International League

80-64

4th

Philadelphia Phillies

2012

Lehigh Valley IronPigs

International League

75-68

5th

Philadelphia Phillies

Do great players make great managers? Sandberg is already a member of the Hall of Fame.  As far as my research goes, Ted Williams is the only other player I could find that became a manager while already a member of the Hall of Fame.  Below is a chart showing Charlie Manuel’s winning percentage as a manager compared to Ted Williams and other great players of the modern era who have become managers.

 

Mgr

G

W

L

W-L%

27

Charlie Manuel

1706

947

759

0.555

55

Joe Torre

4329

2326

1997

0.538

77

Pete Rose

786

412

373

0.525

86

Yogi Berra HOF

930

484

444

0.522

512

Frank Robinson HOF

2241

1065

1176

0.475

474

Tony Perez HOF

158

74

84

0.468

658

Ted Williams HOF

637

273

364

0.429

614

Alan Trammell

486

186

300

0.383

Great players don’t always make the greatest managers.  I believe Joe Torre is the only one with a ring.  And, Ryan Sandberg hasn’t quite performed like a managerial prodigy.  To be fair, he hasn’t performed like a stiff, either.  However, Charlie Manuel’s won a World Series, two pennants, and five straight division titles.

I understand Charlie is sixty-nine years old, but sixty-nine is the new fifty-nine.  If Roger Daltry can pull off rocking-out at a Sandy Relief concert with his shirt off at sixty-nine years old, and Paul McCartney can rock out with the remaining members of Nirvana at seventy years old, and Mick Jagger can be recording a new album and touring the world at sixty-nine, then Charlie Manuel can certainly manage the Phillies for a couple more years.  At the very least, give the guy a year extension and call it a nice severance package if the Phillies have a miserable 2013 season.  Phillies could still let him walk after this year and the $3 million won’t kill this cash-cow franchise.

oldrockers

We can’t let our regret of the 1982 Sandberg trade and the fear of future regret lead us into another decision that we end up regretting—one where Manuel moves on and wins somewhere else.  The odds are just as good of that happening as they are of Sandberg being a World Series caliber manager.  What’s that old “bird in the hand” cliché?  The fans should be calling out for a one year extension for Charlie Manuel instead of waiting to fills his position with the unproven Ryne Sandberg.  Respect, not regret!

Greg

Mayor of Jawnville. Sports-junkie, writer, observer of the absurd. I rarely wear a suit, but when I do it's a 40R. Juniata Park & North Catholic proud.

About Greg

Mayor of Jawnville. Sports-junkie, writer, observer of the absurd. I rarely wear a suit, but when I do it's a 40R. Juniata Park & North Catholic proud.
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