Manuel: Time for Phillies to 'shut up and play'

Manuel: Time for Phillies to 'shut up and play'

May 17, 2013, 10:45 pm
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It’s not like it used to be. Jimmy Rollins used to regularly regale the media and the fans with all sorts of comments and antics. He has made people, by turns, excited and upset and amused.

It doesn’t happen as much anymore. Rollins doesn’t talk to reporters as often as he once did. For the most part, he is seen and not heard these days. Which is why, when he spoke earlier this week, everyone noticed. Charlie Manuel included.

Rollins told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki that the Phillies need to “do what we need to do before they blow it up.” They being the Phils' front office. It seems Rollins has had the same thought as the rest of us –- that these Phillies (who are the fourth-oldest team in Major League Baseball) won’t be together forever.

From the shortstop’s previously sealed mouth to the manager’s ears. On Friday -- before Rollins hit a two-run homer in the Phillies' 5-3 win over the Reds at Citizens Bank Park -- those remarks were relayed to Manuel. He had an interesting and unvarnished reply, the sort we’ve come to expect from him over the years.

“I feel like we come out here the first game we played with the idea to get it going,” Manuel said. “And I think if we can get it going, let’s see it. It’s time for us to maybe shut up and play. It’s time for us to just go after them. You can talk all you want to, but I think the results is what shows.”

Shut up and play. Four words, blunt and loud.

Manuel has seen a lot and done a lot in baseball, but you wonder how much more he has left to see or do in the majors. He has managed more games than anyone in Phillies history, and he’s won more, too. He is also 69 and in the last year of his deal.

Manuel is fond of saying that he wants to win the game happening that day or that night. He’s a right-now, win-now kind of guy. That inclination can only be heightened this season. Like Rollins, he knows that nothing lasts forever and this might be their last run together.

At the moment, the Phils aren’t an excellent team. They aren’t a horrible team, either. They are a team that falls somewhere between those two –- somewhere closer to average.

The Phillies are 20-22. They have played more than a quarter of their schedule, and they entered Friday 3½ games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East. Again, not excellent and not horrible. Somewhere in between. The question is whether they will remain stuck in the middle or move to one extreme or the other. Will they, as Rollins asked, “do what they need to do” before Amaro presses down on the detonation plunger?

We have been waiting to find out what will happen for the last year or so. It would appear we won’t have to wait much longer for the answer. Soon –- either by the trade deadline or the end of the season –- we’ll know.

For his part, Amaro insists that “blowing it up” isn’t “going to be a solution for us because we expect to be contending every year.” He said that a few days ago on "Philly Sports Talk," (see video). That’s fine, but you really wouldn’t expect him to say anything else. Not yet. It’s still May. Let’s see what he says in a month or two when there is a bigger sample size to determine what these Phillies can or can’t do.

“There may be some things we have to do and some difficult decisions we have to make, but I don’t think they’re decisions we have to make in the next 10 days,” Amaro continued on PST. “Those are decisions we’ll make either at the end of the year or perhaps at the deadline. Hopefully we’re adding at the deadline rather than subtracting. We’re still in the mode that we’re going to have to add some pieces. Maybe our pieces are internal from our minor leagues. Maybe they’re pieces from outside the organization. But right now, I feel that we’re in it, and we’re going to fight to be in it until we decide we’re not.”

When asked if the trade deadline was next week whether the Phils would be buyers, Amaro exclaimed, “We’re buying, baby.” Which is wonderful, except the trade deadline isn’t next week. It’s not for a little while. Until then, Manuel (and Rollins, too) had some solid advice.

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