Aug 3, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel (41) in the dugout against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. The Braves defeated the Phillies, 5-4 in 12 innings. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Right Time For Manuel to “Resign”

Aug 13, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel in the dugout against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Manuel, the winningest manager in Philadelphia Phillies history, has stepped down as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.

General Manager Ruben Amaro made the announcement at a press conference at Citizens Bank Park before tonight’s game against the Dodgers, and announced third base coach Ryne Sandberg would be the team’s new manager on an interim basis.

It was unlikely Manuel would finish out the season, given this is the last year of his contract and Sandberg was waiting in the wings. Amaro choked up as he made the announcement today and said the Phils would offer Manuel a job within the organization if he wanted it.

Manuel’s decision to step aside came after the club told him they were not going to renew his contract at the end of the season. Which is a pretty good motivator for quitting. As for staying with the Phillies in some other capacity, Manuel said he wanted to take some time to think before making any decisions. He even said he felt he could still manage somewhere for another year or two, but was unsure if that would ultimately be his decision.

However, Manuel did note during the press conference that he “didn’t quit.” Clearly, he would have preferred to finish out the season. But once it became clear he would not be managing the team in 2014, he decided to step away, rather than be a lame duck manager.

Manuel finishes with the most wins in club history at 780-636 and a postseason record of 27-19. He won a World Series in 2008, went to two World Series, and won five straight NL East titles.

Of course, the last two seasons have been tough for Manuel, as the club finished 81-81 a year ago, and has gotten much worse this year, currently at 53-67. The team is 5-19 since the All-Star Break and has fallen to fourth place in the NL East.

This was a move that needed to happen, and it is best that it is happening now.

The Phils are trying to figure out what they have in 2014 and beyond. If Manuel wasn’t going to be a part of that future, and the plan was for Ryne Sandberg to take over all along (which, of course it was), then putting Sandberg in charge now does a few very beneficial things.

Sandberg can now get his feet wet in a low pressure situation and the players can get used to his managerial style a bit. It allows him to also more accurately judge who he might like to keep on his coaching staff for next year. It allows him to work more closely with Ruben Amaro on the direction of the team and the young players that are getting so much playing time. It also gives the team the freedom to play whoever they want, whenever they want. Sandberg is not beholden to anyone on the roster and can make decisions with more freedom.

Also, if Sandberg falls flat on his face, the Phils have the option of bringing someone else aboard next year.

As Ryne Sandberg said at the press conference, today is “Charlie Manuel Day.”

It’s just a shame it couldn’t have come under better circumstances.

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