Ryne Sandberg could and should be the next manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. That is, of course, as soon as Charlie Manuel is ready to step down.
After a tumultuous 2012 season in Philadelphia that was marred by injuries and disappointment, it was important that the Phillies inject some life into the organization. They did just that when they announced that minor league manager Ryne Sandberg would be brought on as the Phillies' third base and infield coach. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports reported the move on Thursday:
#Phillies name Ryne Sandberg their 3B coach and IF instructor. Could be their next manager. Manuel signed through 2013.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 4, 2012
What's interesting about the move, as Rosenthal alludes to in the tweet, is that current manager Charlie Manuel's contract is set to expire after the 2013 season.
Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News expanded on this idea, suggesting that Sandberg is potentially the heir apparent should the 68-year-old veteran manager decide to retire at the end of the 2013 season.
In the article, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is quick to point out that there is no agreement set in place for Sandberg to eventually take over.
"Obviously, that's the sexy thing to think about," Amaro Jr. said. "But the fact of the matter is he's not the heir apparent. We've made no promises to Ryne Sandberg."
But should he be the heir apparent?
Sandberg, who was inducted in the Hall of Fame as a player in 2005, would make the perfect manager-in-waiting for a Phillies roster that is a legitimate candidate for a bounce-back season next year. As a Hall of Fame player, he knows the ins and outs of the game and has always had a knack for the fundamentals.
Since 2007, Sandberg has been managing at the minor league level; the only thing missing now is coaching at the major league level. Serving on the revamped Phillies coaching staff next season will finally afford him that opportunity, completing his metamorphosis into a major league manager.
Count Charlie Manuel as a supporter of Sandberg. He told the Philadelphia Daily News:
I absolutely like everything about him...I'm really looking forward to working with him. In the dugout, he will be our defensive guy. He will work with the infielders, of course, and he'll move the defenses. His responsibilities will be a lot more than coaching third base. Also, we're going to use his hitting expertise because he's a Hall of Fame hitter. He's got some real good ideas and he talks a lot about hitting the way that I like. I think he's going to be very valuable to us.
Manuel knows what it takes to win in Philly. He's the winningest manager in the club's history, so an endorsement from him should mean a lot to the Phillies fanbase.
With Sandberg's track record and reputation, the Phillies might want to consider Sandberg as the official manager-in-waiting before other teams try to sign him away.