Charlie Manuel is somewhat of a beloved figure in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies. Part of the allure is the fact that he managed the 2008 World Champions and much of the rest comes from his down-home attitude. What many fans forget is that Manuel had a long and successful baseball career before coming to Philadelphia and he relied on some of that experience when asked about the Phillies recent rebuilding project.
In an interview with MLBTradeRumors.com, Manuel drew from his experience with the Minnesota Twins 30-years ago for a comparison.
"When I was with the Twins in 1986 and '87, we had some young players. We had [Kent] Hrbek, [Gary] Gaetti, [Kirby] Puckett, and all these young guys that turned out to be real good players. This group of guys is something similar to them. When you look at this group, we've got a lot of talent. These players have a lot of tools. We can go first to third, we can go second to home, but we still have to develop ourselves as hitters to be able to be regular players at the major league level. And, when it comes to young pitchers, we got so many that some of them have to be good."
Manuel believes that the young crop of pitchers that the Phillies have assembled is especially impressive. A core group of pitchers - what Manuel calls "big arm" pitchers - will provide the foundation for a strong staff in the not too distant future. Manuel specifically mentioned Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff and Jake Thompson as pitchers who have dominating stuff and the potential to be major league stars.
Manuel drew a more contemporary comparison when talking about where the rebuilding can take the Phillies in the near future.
"I think in a few years from now, you'll see us where the Astros are. They backed up and made a lot of good draft choices and look at how good they are now. That's what we're hoping to do."
In his current job as a senior adviser to GM Matt Klentak, Manuel is expected to help the team in spring training before spending time scouting the Phillies minor league clubs. He told MLBTR that he will also help to evaluate some of the prospects who figure to be drafted in the first five rounds of the draft before doing some major league scouting, focusing on potential offseason free agent signings for the team. The Phillies also use Manuel, 72, to help evaluate their own major league talent.