In his eight seasons as Philadelphia Phillies manager, Charlie Manuel has accomplished quite a bit. He’s won five division titles, two pennants, and a World Series. Barring some sort of catastrophe, Manuel will win game 1,000 of his Major League managerial career at some point this season. And, despite the fact that he is 69 years of age, Manuel shows no signs of slowing down, and has already said he would not mind managing another season.
That is where the controversy begins. Manuel is in the final year of his contract with the Phillies, but has already said he won’t talk about it during the season. He now also has Ryne Sandberg as his third-base coach, a man that many believe is set to take over at some point as manager of the team. So, how will the Phillies navigate these potentially murky waters?
It’s hard to tell. Manuel has obviously enjoyed a lot of success here, and a return trip to the playoffs, whether it leads to a championship or not, would make it hard to just say good-bye to a man who has said he wants to keep managing. At the same time, the Phillies don’t seem like they want to lose a talented manager-in-waiting in Sandberg.
It’s not an easy situation to handle. Sandberg has done a fantastic job with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate. Mostly everybody who has joined the big club has had positive things to say about their time with Sandberg in Triple-A. Now that he is in the Majors, Sandberg has a chance to continue his upward path through the organization.
It’s almost hard to believe that Sandberg hasn’t had a Major League job already, considering there have been openings across the league over the years. It’s easy to say that patience is a virtue. Sandberg, at this point, is more than deserving of a chance to manage a Major League team. If the Phillies struggle this season, it will be a lot easier to sell to the fans that they are not bringing back Manuel and are going in a different direction.
A successful season could lead to Manuel’s return and the loss of Sandberg to another team. The Phillies have already kicked themselves once for trading Sandberg way back in 1978. He went on to have a Hall of Fame career. Is it possible they lose him again? It’s one of the storylines that will have to be followed throughout 2013.