It's no secret that I've been hard on Charlie Manuel.
I don't think that he is a great manager. I understand that he will go down as the winningest manager in Philadelphia Phillies history. I'm well aware that he was the manager of the 2008 World Series champions, the second championship team in Phillies history and the first since 1980. I also know that Manuel has been to the playoffs five times since 2005, accounting for five of the Phillies' 13 playoff appearances since the team was founded in 1883.
But, as I've written about many times before, Manuel has his flaws as a manager, one of which is his questionable management of the pitching staff. In many cases, Manuel leaves his starters (especially Roy Halladay) in the game too long and before you know it, they've given up a few runs in the seventh inning and the bullpen needs to scramble to get ready.
Another managerial flaw that Manuel has is his inability to play small ball. Without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in the lineup, Manuel was unable to adjust to not having power bats in the middle of his lineup. Instead of moving runners over on the base paths, Manuel would allow players to swing away, hoping that they'd be able to drive the ball out of the park. More often than not the result wasn't runs, but rather, at least one out.
Finally, Manuel has a loyalty to his players that on one hand is respectable and admirable, but on the other hand, is interfering with the team's best interests. As previously mentioned, Manuel often leaves his starters in games for too long, which is a sign of loyalty. Manuel also has a prototypical leadoff man in Juan Pierre who is still hitting behind Jimmy "First Pitch Pop up" Rollins.
I've been leading the charge for the beginning of the Ryne Sandberg era in Philadelphia. But, as for who would get the most out of the Phillies in 2013, I'd actually go with Manuel over Sandberg.
Manuel's last year under contract with the Phillies is 2013. After 2013, there may very well be a different manager in Philadelphia; and the players know that.
The players also know that they let the Phillies' gigantic fan base down in 2012. These two things, along with some fresh new faces, could create a very hungry team in 2013.
The Phillies players like Charlie Manuel. Heck, I like Charlie Manuel. Manuel is a classy guy who genuinely cares about his players and tries his best to protect them; I respect that. I've been hard on the man, but I do respect him and it is clear that the players do too. If the players feel that 2013 could be Manuel's last year with the team, then they could take on a "win one for Charlie" attitude.
The other option is to bring in Ryne Sandberg for 2013.
As the Boston Red Sox showed this year, if you bring in the wrong manager, things can fall apart quickly. If the players don't respond well to Sandberg, then 2013 could be even worse than 2012.
But, as the Chicago White Sox showed this year, if you bring in the right manager, the team can take on a whole new attitude and become contenders.
2013 will no doubt be an interesting year for the Philadelphia Phillies and Charlie Manuel. It could very well be the end of the career of the most successful manager in franchise history. And although I have made my disapproval for some of Manuel's tactics very clear, I still believe that he can and will get the most out of this team next year.
The players love the gum-chewing, seed-spitting man who gently rests his cap on the top of his white hair. Maybe next year they can send him out on top.
Follow @TimStoeckle on Twitter