THE Sports & Swag Report

Mixed feelings about Phillies firing of Charlie Manuel

Charlie Manuel. The Philadelphia Phillies most successful manager ever….

The Philadelphia Phillies gave manager Charlie Manuel his walking papers on Friday. A move that I think the Phillies front office has wanted to do for some time. Now, with the Phillies 21.5 games out of first place in the National League East, the Phils have their excuse for letting Manuel go. What was the hurry? Manuel’s contract expires at the end of the season. Why not wait until then? Especially, when you factor in the accomplishments of the 69 year old manager. Back to back World Series appearances in 2008 and 2009. Winning in 2008 and falling short in 2009. Also, four consecutive NL East titles. Considering where the Phillies were before hiring Manuel, I think he deserved to at least finish the season. The Phils wasted no time in announcing an interim manager. 3rd base coach, Ryne Sandberg was named interim manager. By design, in my opinion.
Sandberg, has been a manager at the minor league level, in the Chicago Cubs organization. ‘Ryno’ as he was affectionately called during his playing days, is one of the most decorated and recognizable players to ever wear a Cubs uniform. The 10 time all-star was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005. Ironically, he became that player with the Cubs after being traded from Philadelphia in 1982. The Phillies drafted Sandberg in the 20th round of the 1978 MLB draft. The trade was one of the most lopsided in MLB history. While the Phillies fizzled, Sandberg and the Cubs sizzled, and were one of the best teams in the National League during the mid-1980’s. Because of that, and managerial success at the minor league level, Sandberg is widely seen as being that former star player, that becomes a great success as a manager in the majors.
Obviously, the Phillies front office has recognized this, and were willing to hand over the keys to the Phillies dugout, before another team could get their hands on him. I would be shocked if the interim tag isn’t removed, and Sandberg not be given the full-time job as Phillies manager. I don’t question naming Sandberg as Manuel’s successor. I just question the timing. It’s not like the Phillies have been a complete team over the last few seasons. Star players like Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, and many others have had a hard time staying healthy. Even with that, the Phillies haven’t really been horrible. Not until this season, anyway.
Manuel’s record and tenure as Phillies manager has been incredible. After an appearance in the 1993 World Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, losing became a way of life in Philly. Then Manuel arrived, and he almost immediately turned the Phillies into one of the best teams in baseball. In fact, his firing comes only four days after recording his 1,000th career win as a manager. Manuel, also managed the Cleveland Indians from 2000-2002. Including a playoff appearance in that span.
Now, Sandberg takes over, and there is no reason to believe he won’t be very successful. It’s just probably going to take a while. The Phillies still have a lot of injuries, and they also have a lot of questions about their roster going into the 2014 season. I echo Phillies vice-president, Ruben Amaro, in saying that Manuel should be moved somewhere inside the Phillies front office. He absolutely deserves it, and I don’t think there’s a better guy for whatever job they give him. I just hope they treat him a little better than they did as manager. Good luck to Ryne Sandberg in his new gig.

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