In a move that isn’t all that surprising, the Philadelphia Phillies have announced that manager Charlie Manuel has been fired and that Ryne Sandberg will be his replacement as the interim manager for the rest of season.
Before the season began, the general consensus seemed to be that Manuel would not return after the year. His contract was set to expire at the end of the 2013 season and Sandberg, who spent time managing Triple-A Lehigh Valley to success, seemed ready to manage a major league team. He even had offers to be a major league manager in the 2011 offseason, but turned them down.
The belief was that Sandberg wanted to manage one of two teams, either the Chicago Cubs where he built his entire Hall of Fame career, or the Phillies, the team that drafted him and then regrettably traded him away.
But when the Cubs chose Dale Sveum, Sandberg chose to stay with the Phillies organization. He led the Iron Pigs to their first playoff appearance in 2011 and was named the Minor League Manager of the Year. Following that season and seeing the interest that other teams had in Sandberg’s services, the Phillies wisely brought him to the big league club to play the part of third base coach.
It was then that everybody started to really see the writing on the wall for Manuel.
And despite some people believing Manuel, who won one of the organization’s two World Series championships, deserved and had earned the right to finish out the season, this is actually the smart move and the best one the team could have made for several reasons.
For starters, Manuel gets to leave with 1,000 career wins, a mark he just reached with the Phillies. He also gets to leave as one of the best and most revered managers in team history. It is also important that Ruben Amaro has extended the invitation for Manuel to stay within the organization in some capacity, a gesture that should not be overlooked.
As for Sandberg, this gives the Phillies a chance to see what they have in him. It marks the beginning of a transitional period for the team, and it is smart that as the rebuilding begins, the Phillies have their potential manager of the future at the helm of it. For the young players and the veterans, getting to learn Sandberg’s managerial style now in a lost season is a lot better than doing so next year, when the team will once again have the mindset to contend.
The organization wishes Manuel nothing but success going forward but ultimately, it was a decision that had to be made and one that makes sense.