Anyone who watched the Philadelphia Phillies over the last six weeks or so knows it was time for Charlie Manuel to pass the baton to someone else.
Manuel played Michael Martinez in a game against the Detroit Tigers earlier this year and when reporters asked him why he played the light-hitting call-up from the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Manuel said: “Because he was hitting good at Lehigh Valley and I wanted to give him a shot.”
Eyes rolled in the press room. Either Manuel thinks 4-for-27 is “hitting good”, or he did not do his due diligence in researching what Martinez did in Lehigh Valley because the utility player was called up after having just four hits in those last 31 at-bats.
That’s the kind of guy Manuel was, though. He always liked Martinez for reasons I could not figure out and had a soft spot for his other players — sometimes too soft. This is not what the current group of players or Phillies fans can expect under the new manager, Ryne Sandberg.
The Hall of Famer who made his mark with the Chicago Cubs (after coming through the Phillies’ system) is a non-nonsense guy who will not play favorites, say the guys who played for him during his two successful years as the manager of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, anyway.
He was the 2010 manager of the year in the Pacific Coast League while leading the Triple-A Iowa Cubs to an 82-62 record, and was named Baseball America’s manager of the year with the Iron Pigs in 2011.
Sandberg is sharp at only 54-years old, nearly 16 years younger than Manuel. If Martinez is hitting 4-for-27 after his call-up, Sandberg will likely know it and not play the guy. If Jimmy Rollins jogs down to first on a routine ground ball to the infield, Sandberg will likely let him know about it. Too often, Manuel let the players get away with those kinds of things, and the lackadaisical play spread throughout the team.
Manuel’s time has come and gone. Sandberg’s time is now. The Phillies can only hope he uses the final month-plus to turn the bad attitudes and bad habits around.