After over seven years at the helm, Charlie Manuel has been fired as the Phillies manager and will be replaced by Ryne Sandberg. The move was first reported on CSNPhilly.com.
During the press conference that featured both Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro, it sounded as if this was a mutual decision between the organization and Manuel.
I did not resign. I did not quit… I think it was an understanding
– Charlie Manuel
Amaro said that Sandberg would manage the team for the remainder of the season, but didn’t rule out making another move after the conclusion of the season.
I’m sure that this move isn’t going to do much to quiet the growing anti-Amaro sentiment in Philadelphia. Most people probably feel that Manuel is being used as a scapegoat for the poor roster that Amaro assembled.
But it wasn’t like this move hadn’t been predicted a long time ago. Manuel’s contract was due to expire at the end of the season, and ever since Sandberg was hired, there were rumors that this was going to be Manuel’s last season regardless of how things turned out.
Obviously, the season didn’t turn out the way the Phillies hoped, and there was a growing suspicion that the players were beginning to tune Manuel out. Amaro and Manuel likely both realized that with the team going nowhere in 2013, it might be best to give Sandberg a head start on his managerial career. The move might have been made earlier, but the team showed Manuel respect by allowing him to stay on until he could record his 1000th win.
Ironically, Manuel got his start with the Phillies as the heir apparent to a manager with a tenuous status. In 2004, the Phillies had gotten fed up with Larry Bowa’s combative managerial style. When the Phillies hired Manuel as a special assistant to the general manager, it appeared inevitable that Manuel would eventually replace Bowa. Sure enough, Bowa was fired at the end of the 2004 season, and Manuel was given control of the team in 2005.
While Manuel was never viewed as a tactical genius, he was regarded as being popular with the players. It is never clear just how much influence a manager has over a team’s success, but Manuel presided over the team’s greatest era of success. His 780 managerial wins are the most in team history, and earlier this week, he celebrated his 1,000th overall win as a manager.
If the results of the 2013 season didn’t make it clear, this move should make it painfully obvious: An era of Phillies baseball has ended. It is now up to Ryne Sandberg to lead the team into a new era.