Conventional wisdom holds that the Philadelphia Phillies will allow Charlie Manuel to lead his squad through the end of his current contract this season. After that, it’s widely believed that Ryne Sandberg will be elevated from field coach to dugout king.
But, could the door of transition be forced open before the fall?
It’s not written in legalese that general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. will absolutely keep Manuel as his 2013 diamond boss through game 162. Therefore, the ninth-year Phillies’ skipper could summarily be replaced at any point this season.
As to whether that would be the right move, or the fair choice, is beyond the point. Baseball is a business and fall guys will fall. That’s how life works in the corporate world. And make no mistake, each MLB team is a massive corporation.
There has always been a sizable contingent of Phillies’ fans who don’t like Manuel. This writer isn’t part of that group and never has been.
Like any manager, ‘Chuck’ isn’t perfect. But, he was the right man to lead this franchise because of the enduring respect that he’s been able to elicit from his players. That timeless leadership skill will always matter.
No one could take the current roster to the World Series (or likely, even to the playoffs) this season. In order to avoid an unnecessarily hard exit, Amaro should inform Manuel that he plans to promote Sandberg at season’s end and simultaneously offer him some type of permanent position within the organization.
The West Virginia native and all-time Phillies’ managerial wins-leader will turn 70 on January 4, 2014. Manuel deserved his job, performed it well and has earned an honorable departure.