PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Winning the NL East was enough to earn Phillies manager Charlie Manuel a new contract. Now that he'll be in Philadelphia at least two more years, he'd like to end that championship drought.
``Winning the East was very big for us this year,'' Manuel said on Wednesday. ``If we can improve our team a little bit, I see no reason in the world we can't finish our business.''
The Phillies and Manuel agreed to a two-year contract with a club option for 2010, keeping around the folksy manager who led the franchise to their first NL East title since 1993.
Manuel was rewarded for rallying the Phillies to the division title on the final day of the season. It took a historic collapse by the New York Mets - they became the first team in major league history to blow a seven-game lead with 17 remaining - for the Phillies to finish one game ahead in the standings.
The Phillies were swept 3-0 by the Colorado Rockies in Philadelphia's first postseason appearance in 14 years. The Phillies won their only World Series in 1980.
The 63-year-old Manuel led the Phillies to an 89-73 record in his third season with the team.
Manuel, who previously managed the Cleveland Indians, is 262-224 in three years in Philadelphia. Among Phillies managers, Manuel reached 250 wins in the fewest games since Pat Moran managed the club from 1915-18.
The Phillies fizzled in the playoffs and the league's highest-scoring team scored only eight runs in three games against Colorado and batted just .172 (16-for-93) with 26 strikeouts during the series.
But the players love Manuel, who hardly seemed bothered this season by his lame-duck status. Manuel kept his team together through the slow start and injuries that decimated his staff.
The Phillies started 4-11 in April and, at one point, didn't have projected ace Freddy Garcia or Jon Lieber in the rotation and were without closers Tom Gordon and Brett Myers.
Both Garcia and Lieber went down for the season in June, and Gordon and Myers each missed two months. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, ace Cole Hamels, outfielders Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn and reliever Ryan Madson also missed significant time.
``I think I told everyone that Charlie did a great job under difficult circumstances,'' general manager Pat Gillick said. ``We look forward to a good 2008, a great 2008.''
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