10/15/08 8:14 PM ET
Charlie Manuel pregame interview
Manager believes best pitcher is going to the mound tonight
By / MLB.com
There was a time where bullpen moves and such were constant parts of the conversation about you and your managing. Were you interested at all at the reaction after Torre -- after you beat them the other night, the way the media did with him, what I kind of remember them doing with you?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Actually, I haven't seen anything about it, really. I guess it's part of the game. A lot of times it's all aftereffect. How the game plays dictates some things that you do, and if you lose a game, I can always go back and kind of put your stamp on what a guy should have done or how it should have been played out or something.
And I don't think you can let things like that bother you. And I'll be sure Joe -- I'm sure it doesn't bother him.
Some of the money ball people say that it's a mistake to pay closers a lot of money because the position of closer is kind of an overrated position compared to the numbers that they put up and the like. Do you think Brad Lidge, what he's done this year, sort of puts that argument to rest?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think the money each year, you know, in a game -- first of all, I'd like to say the money gets bigger every year.
I've heard people say there's not going to be that much money out there this year and the market's value of a pitcher or player or something like that is going down.
Since I've been in the game, I can't remember it going down. Seems like it always gets bigger. But the biggest thing about when you pay a closer money is talent. And I think when you think of a closer, the first guy comes into play would be Mariano Rivera, the Yankees. That's the first thing that comes to my mind, how successful he's been. Then when you see what Brad Lidge did for our team this year, he definitely plays a huge part in our success, and he's closed out every game he's been in.
So his importance would be kind of hard for me to really say how much. I mean he's been that important to us.
What was Manny (Ramirez) like when you first started working with him in Cleveland?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Manny has always been coachable, very coachable. And he's always worked hard. As a matter of fact, you guys would never realize how much work Manny used to do.
And hopefully I think he's still doing that same -- has the same work habits. He hit all the time. But at that time I was a hitting coach, and even when I was in the Minor Leagues, and Manny said I was more a hitting coach because our teams hit all the time. But Manny worked really hard and definitely -- what do you call it? He improved his skills. But at the same time, I first seen him, this guy, his weight shift and his swing hasn't changed much at all. He's kept the same pattern, the same stance, same hand position, same stride, same leg kick and everything.
And that's a tribute to him because he works hard. He works on hitting breaking balls. He definitely works on hitting the ball down. In this playoff I've noticed against the Chicago Cubs and us he kills balls down. And, believe me, he's worked at that. We used to work at that a lot. But he's always hit a lot. He's always hit a lot of breaking balls. He always put a lot of time in.
You guys have such impressive balance in both the bullpen and the bench, lefty, righty in the bullpen and lefty, righty in the bench. How much does that help you know which moves to make as the game goes along?
CHARLIE MANUEL: A lot of times you play to your personnel and things that they can do. And especially when if we've got Dobbs and Stairs both sitting over there, we've got what I call a good hitter. And then we've got a guy who is a good hitter and power and quick bat.
And Stairs definitely -- he's dangerous as far as hitting the ball out. But Dobbs can also hit a home run for you, but he's a real very good hitter and tremendous pinch hitter. That's very valuable to us.
Even though I don't start him in a game, I can also plug him in there if we're losing a game or something. That makes Dobbs good. But our bench is from a right-handed standpoint; we can do some things as far as putting the ball in play and we can run the bases. And so good balance is what it's all about.
Do you know is Kendrick or any of the other instructional league guys going to rejoin you guys and travel with you from here on out?
CHARLIE MANUEL: That's getting ahead of stuff. They're down there working right now, I want to concentrate on winning tonight's game. You can do things with the team and the roster. But right now we're concentrating on winning tonight's ball game.
Having Cole Hamels going for you tonight in a possible clinching situation, it's close to ideal for you, isn't it?
CHARLIE MANUEL: We have what I consider our best pitcher. If you go back and look through the course of the season, he's got the innings, he's got the starts. He's been our best pitcher and he's very good to have out there, like I said.
And when he's pitching, you've always got a very good chance of winning a game. I think it's a good chance for us. But at the same time, we've still got to go out there and do it.
And Billingsley, who is starting for them tonight, he's very capable of throwing a good game. He has pitched good against us. Had a tough time last time out. Felt like we got some runs the bottom of the order, got some hits, and, believe me, we've got our work cut out for us and we've got to go out there and actually play good enough to win the game.
And Hamels, definitely he can set the tone for us and I've got a lot of faith in him. I feel like he's going to pitch a good game tonight.
The various general managers you've worked with, how do you describe Pat Gillick?
CHARLIE MANUEL: He's been -- in baseball he's very well known and everything. As a manager I don't get to see him as much as probably people in the front office, the people who work around him. In our meetings and things, that's the time I get to see him a lot.
But what he does, he did all the trades, all the transactions on our team and things. But as far as he's known in baseball as a tremendous general manager, and I think that kind of speaks for itself.
The fact that he's been with Philadelphia for three years and we have been successful for winning games, I think, and his record tells the story.
Just to follow up, what's it like to work with him, though?
CHARLIE MANUEL: What's it like to work with him? Yeah, it can be good. It can be bad, too. Both sides.
I think Joe Torre has described you several times in this series as a lifer in a complimentary way. As a manager, do you think it's the strategy part of it or the other parts to have a good manager?
CHARLIE MANUEL: First of all, I think probably strategy part. I would say it might be second, really, when you get right down to it.
I think the biggest thing is getting you being able to communicate and you've got to be honest and you've got to be consistent. But getting guys to play regular nowadays, you know, like getting them on the field and being able to keep them there, I think that probably comes before, like the strategy of handling the game and stuff.
That might be the biggest thing. Both of them is very important, of course, but really I think communication and the fact at how you go about things and getting them, like I said, get them on the field to play.
If you stop and look at teams and you have disabled list and also the injuries, of course that's part of the game and things like that. But also the chemistry and attitude definitely comes into play. And I think the players, that's when I give them all the credit because they are the attitude and they make up the chemistry on your team.
And also they're the ones that gets the hits and they're the ones that pitch and catch a ball for you to win the game. They're the ones that do the job. That's why I always give the players the credit.
But at the same time, to me, from a manager's standpoint, the part of getting them on the field, getting them to play every day and getting the most out of them and getting them to play the game right, I think if you go back and you watch every game and watch every team in the Major Leagues and you sit down and you think about -- pick teams that you would like, that you do like, I think the things that I said, they would come into play.
We know that you play them one at a time, but you've reached a point now where the prize at the end of the game tonight if you win is a trip to the World Series.
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think we'll realize that after the game. But at the same time I think it's best to cross the finish line.
Have you thought, though, about how difficult it is to get to this point?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, winning is hard. Nothing about winning comes easy. I hear people say this team is a great team and things like that, they win so many games. But, believe me, there's a price you pay to win, too. It's the effort you put into it and how you stay focused and how you look at your outlook on where you want to go and what you want to achieve that definitely plays a big part in it.
Again, that's where the players come in. And that's kind of what a team is all about. And, to me, tonight's game is the biggest one we've played. And we approach it every day in an aspect we're going to win tonight's game.
Your plans are the same, you're still going to leave tonight for Virginia? And also has it been tough these last few days being so far away from home and family?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Not really, when you say far away from home. Nowadays it seems with all the travel that I did down through the years, seems like when you get on a plane you can fly, get there in four, five hours or whatever. Kind of got used to it. And to me home seems very close. So it's not too far that I can't get there, and I think that's what makes things easier at times, too.
Are you going to fly home tonight?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I'm flying home after the game, yes.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.