Charlie Manuel is not ready for you to put him into the retirement home yet.
While the Ryne Sandberg train seems to be steaming toward the station, Charlie Manuel insists he’s not ready to switch the tracks just yet.
Speaking last night at the Phillies Winter Banquet at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Manuel affirmed he is not ready to end his tenure as manager of the Phillies.
“Look, do I want to manage the Phillies? You’re damn right. I ain’t ready to leave.”
Reporters on hand noted Manuel seemed to be agitated by the questions about his future, his voice raising and his face getting red as he answered the question. But the future already appears to be in place.
Manuel is on the last year of his contract. Sandberg, the presumed manager-in-waiting, has joined the big club as the team’s third base coach in 2013. Manuel, now 69, has overseen the greatest sustained run of success in the team’s history, has never had a losing season in his eight years with the club, and will go down as the winningest manager in club history.
However, the club has regressed every year since their world championship in 2008. Every team has to turn the page, and the Phils, both on the field and off it, appear ready to do just that.
If Manuel is re-signed as manager, Ryne Sandberg will certainly leave for a managerial job somewhere else, something the Phillies don’t want. On the other hand, they don’t want to push one of the best managers in team history out the door prematurely, either.
It’s a bit of a sticky situation.
There is also the chance that if the Phils get off to a horrendous start, Manuel could be let go. But given his track record, that would be highly unlikely.
More likely, the Phils will use the expiration of Manuel’s contract to bring aboard some new blood and chart a new direction.
Whatever happens, don’t expect Cholly to go gently into that good night.
“I want to have the best season that we’ve ever had [in 2013],” Manuel said. “I should never have to change my way of doing things. We’ve proved, and not just me, we’ve proved that our method and our philosophy works. We’ve got to go out there and play better, and if we’re healthy, with the acquisitions that we got, I feel very strongly about it.”
“I want to make it plain that I’m not going to retire and I love being a Phillie.”
If the Phillies truly are a team in transition, 2014 should be Sandberg’s time. The only thing Manuel can do to extend his stay in Philadelphia is to win his second World Series, and even that wouldn’t be a slam dunk.
And even though Charlie is optimistic about the roster he’s been handed this year…
“I like our team,” Manuel said defiantly…
…the team, as currently constructed, appears earmarked for third place in the NL East.
Whether he wants to stay or not, Charlie Manuel is likely managing his last year in Philadelphia.
Here’s hoping his final season goes a lot better than Andy Reid’s did.