Charlie Manuel's seen it both ways. He's had winning teams without a vocal leader. He's also had teams with boisterous personalities that control the locker room and command respect.
The 2006-07 Phillies come to mind, with Aaron Rowand serving as the dominant clubhouse voice. Those Phillies teams won 85 and 89 games, respectively. They were a young up-and-coming club in search of the franchise's first playoff appearance in over a decade. The '07 Phillies won the National League East and reached the postseason. They were the foundation for one of the most successful runs in franchise history.
The next season, the clubhouse leader, Rowand, went to San Francisco along with a newly fattened bank account. The Phillies lost their locker room voice, but won the World Series.
Manuel's team made the playoffs each of the next three seasons with some vastly different characters. They were quieter, more workmanlike, and, ultimately, more successful.
From 2008-11, the Phillies clearly didn't need a vocal leader to roll through the NL East. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins were the foundation and had been together for years. They didn't need anyone to get things in order during a losing streak.
This year may be different. This is a different Phillies team. Howard and Utley have yet to play a game and the date of their returns are unknown. The Phillies (14-17) are below .500.
It took five years, but the Phillies might finally be missing that voice that patrols the locker room. As the numbers and Manuel suggest, it could be the problem.
I dont think weve got a vocal leader on our team," Manuel admitted. "Since Ive been here, the only guy I ever seen that would be a vocal leader was Aaron Rowand. Hes the only guy who was a vocal leader.
"But at the same time, we got guys in there especially when theyre playing good they lead by example, and who they are and their personalities and everything, they can lead that way. But thats kind of how it is."
The relative silence places a larger burden on the manager. It becomes his job, and his job only, to be the team's vocal leader. Is that ideal?
"If you win, I guess it works," Manuel said. "If you lose I guess people look at it and say something isn't working. To me, on our team, I think I'm the leader."
Manuel has to carefully pick his spots though. If he charges into the locker room and laces into his players on a regular basis, his words carry no weight. If he stays quiet too long, the losses could mount. It's a fine line to navigate.
Following Tuesday night's loss to the Mets the Phillies' fourth in five games Manuel appeared to be a boiling tea pot ready to lose its lid. He even hinted a closed-door scathing could be imminent.
Ive been wanting to talk to them, Manuel said. But at this point I dont really know what to say to them. Thats kind of how I feel. Im going to talk to them sooner or later but right now I dont know what I want to say.
Manuel did not address the team after watching a four-run lead disappear on Tuesday night against the Mets. After a night's rest and a significant decrease in his blood pressure, he did not address the team when they arrived for the series finale on Wednesday.
The players, though, know it could be on the horizon. They're just as unhappy with the recent results as their manager.
"Whenever he feels is the time is the time," outfielder Hunter Pence said. "It could be now."
Or maybe Manuel's waiting for a vocal clubhouse leader to emerge.
E-mail Jordan Raanan at firstname.lastname@example.org