Two-year extension for Manuel finalized
Phillies skipper, pursuing fifth NL East title, signed through 2013
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Charlie Manuel turned 67 in January, which means he will be 69 when his new contract expires.
It could be his last one with the Phillies.
"I don't think I'm going to catch [Joe] Paterno," Manuel joked on Thursday morning at Bright House Field, where the Phillies announced his two-year extension. "I'd like to, but he's got a head start on me."
Paterno, 84, has been Penn State's football coach since 1966. Manuel has been the Phillies' manager since 2005, when he replaced Larry Bowa.
It has been a remarkable ride for Manuel. Fans begged and pleaded former general manager Ed Wade to hire Jim Leyland after the 2004 season. Wade chose Manuel, who never got his honeymoon period in Philadelphia. He took a beating those first couple of years, but things slowly changed.
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"To know Charlie is to like Charlie," team president David Montgomery said. "As our fans got to know him, as the people who cover the club got to know him, all the people that criticized him from a distance [learned], if you know him, he's a pretty lovable guy. I think we're fortunate to have him, and we're pleased that we have him for this year and two more."
Likability is one thing, but winning means everything. Manuel has guided the Phillies to one World Series championship, two National League pennants and four consecutive NL East championships.
"Charlie deserves credit for this," GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We've talked about it quite a bit -- changing the culture and the mind-set [of the organization]. It made it a more positive environment. Not just for the players, but in regard to everybody, from the clubhouse people to the people on our training staff. It just made it across the board a new, different mind-set.
"Instead of the glass being half empty at times, we've gotten to the point, I think, where the glass has changed to half full. I think Charlie certainly deserves credit for that in the clubhouse."
The extension, which is believed to be worth around $7.5 million, makes Manuel one of the highest-paid managers in the game. Manuel's current contract, which ran through this season, has been restructured.
Essentially, Manuel has a new three-year deal.
Now he is locked up, and he is grateful for that.
"Time is definitely the hammer for the manager," Manuel said.
Players enjoy playing for Manuel, so it is hard to imagine him not having clout in the clubhouse if had opened the season without a contract beyond this year. But that no longer is an issue. He has security.
"It feels very good, but it also feels good for the fact that somebody believes in me and has faith in me and kind of gives me that opportunity," Manuel said. "Believe me, if I did a good job before and worked hard before, I'll even work harder. We've still got a lot of great baseball to play, and we've got a lot of winning to do. That's kind of what I bring.
"So far, things have worked out pretty good. There is still more to this journey than the last six years."
In a perfect world, Manuel wins another World Series or two and rides into the sunset as the best manager in franchise history, keeping a connection to the Phillies in the front office, much like Pat Gillick and Dallas Green.
But Manuel isn't sure what will happen after 2013.
"When Ruben and I talked, I made it pretty clear that after this deal is up, it's time for him and I to sit down and for me to take a good look at myself and also the organization, sit down and have a good talk and see where we're at," Manuel said. "I want to stay with Philadelphia as long as I'm in baseball, and I'm a Phillie. I look at myself as a Phillie. Yeah, I was with the Indians, and I was with the Kintetsu Buffaloes, and I was with the Yakult Swallows, and I was with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But I'm a Phillie. And if I cut my arm, it's going to be red blood and not blue."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.