Philadelphia Phillies: Could Ryne Sandberg Replace Charlie Manuel in 2013?

Jason AmareldCorrespondent IIOctober 6, 2012

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel looks on prior to a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 28, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Jason Arnold/Getty Images)
Jason Arnold/Getty Images

With the Philadelphia Phillies firing the majority of their current coaching staff only hours after their final game, change has already begun for team who had won five straight NL East titles coming into 2012. 

The Phillies also promoted Triple-A Lehigh Valley manager and Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg to coach third base and work as the infield coach. It is clear that the Phillies are leaning toward Sandberg replacing Manuel.

They only question left is, when?  

Charlie Manuel will enter 2013 in the final year of his contract. If Manuel leads the Phillies to another 37-50 record going into the All-Star break, is there much sense in letting him coach the team the rest of the year? Or should the Sandberg era begin early.

For the moment, the answer is hazy at best. Manuel did bring a world championship to Philadelphia, a city that was at the time starving for any type of championship. He is also the winningest coach in franchise history, but the Phillies will not even think about extending Manuel into 2014 if the Phillies do not return to the playoffs in 2013.

My gut says he will finish with the team no matter what happens in 2013. Then again, if owners David Montgomery and Bill Giles dish out a bunch more offseason dollars for a non-playoff team, Ruben Amaro's job as GM may come under the microscope. Most people in Amaro's position would much rather fire a coach than have the owners reevaluate their job performance.

Ryne Sanberg is clearly the heir apparent and Manuel seems pretty clear on his current situation, but does he want to play the lame-duck manager if things start to go south next season? It's tough to answer; Charlie is a very prideful man. Does he walk away before he gets fired? Or does he have faith in Ruben Amaro to let him finish what he started and walk away on his own terms.

Amaro is going to have an extremely tough offseason here in 2012, he may have an even tougher one in 2013 with contracts expiring on Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz, Laynce Nix, Kyle Kendrick and Chase Utley.