PHILADELPHIA -- Two more years. Charlie Manuel's steady hand and positive outlook earned him a two-year extension from the Phillies with an option for 2010, though leading them to their first postseason appearance and best record since 1993 didn't hurt. Manuel, 63, guided the Phillies to the National League East Division championship in 2007, spurred by a 13-4 run to close out the season. The team rebounded from a 4-11 start to finish at 89-73, good for second-best in the NL behind Arizona and Colorado, which won 90 games apiece.
"I'm very happy to be back for another two years," Manuel said in a statement. "I'm proud of what the team accomplished, and I'm looking forward to defending our division title and reaching our goal of winning a World Series for Philadelphia." The Phillies locked up their first significant free agent after a Tuesday meeting with Gillick, Charlie Manuel and Manuel's agent Pat Rooney. Manuel was approached about an extension during the final week of the regular season, but wanted to wait until after the season because he didn't want his situation to become a distraction. Manuel was seeking a deal for at least two seasons, as anything less would increase the difficulty of his keeping control of the clubhouse. Gillick, who is strongly considering retiring after his own contract expires after the 2008 season, was reportedly leery of saddling his successor with a manager he didn't hire. Manuel is expected to make any coaching decisions in the next few days. In the final season of a three-year deal signed after the 2004 season, Manuel's team survived a litany of injuries to key players -- Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Tom Gordon, Shane Victorino, Jon Lieber, Freddy Garcia -- and galloped past the Mets into the playoffs, where they were swept by a hot Rockies team. Manuel has posted a winning record in all five of his full seasons as a Major League manager, including two with Cleveland, winning 90, 91, 88, 85 and 89 games. The 89 in 2007 proved the magic number. Pat Moran is the only other skipper with three straight winning seasons to start a tenure as Phillies manager. To that end, Manuel collected his 250th win in his 470th game, the fastest to reach that number since Moran in 1918. "There's no question, the players want him back," Shane Victorino said on Monday. "He did a great job. He put us in position to win throughout the year. It's not our call. We know what we want. Upstairs, they have to make a decision and do what's best for the team. He kept us in the right direction all season." Victorino wasn't the only one who felt that way. "We love what Charlie brings to the ballpark every day, which is an upbeat, positive attitude that rubs off on the players," Gillick said, in a statement. "He helped lead our club back to the playoffs and he and his coaching staff did a great job, especially with the injury issues they faced throughout the season with a number of key players."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.