Charlie Manuel is undoubtedly one of the best managers in Phillies franchise history. He's brought the team one of two franchise World Series championships, and he's won the NL East division each of the last four seasons, making it to at least the NLCS in three of them. He's compiled a 544-428 record since becoming the skipper in Philly, which amounts to a .560 winning percentage. That is the third best record for any Phillies manager.
Manuel is in the last year of his current contract, which was a contract extension he signed on top of a two-year deal signed (with a third-year club option, which was enacted last year), and he's yet to sign an extension on his current deal.
This dilemma has many Phillies fans concerned that their skipper won't be returning next year. While it may be too early to call whether Manuel will in fact come back in 2012, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has assured fans that he will be able to negotiate a deal if all goes according to plan.
As for Manuel, he previously said the same thing as Albert Pujols: he doesn't want to negotiate anything during the regular season next year and wants to wait until the offseason.
There are many possible reasons why Manuel has yet to ink a new deal with the Phillies. Among them is the fact that this is the last year of his deal and many athletes and managers in all sports who are a bit older in age retire after a championship victory. Take a look at the Phillies right now. They are early favorites to win it all this season, and if that happens, Manuel might consider calling it quits and ending on a good note.
There is also the possibility that Ruben Amaro, Jr. has other plans. The Phillies probably didn't choose Ryne Sandberg to be their AAA affiliate manager just because he was a manager for the Cubs' single-A affiliate. Sandberg has said that managing the Cubs has been one of his lifelong dreams, but when interim manager Mike Quade received the position, Sandberg was out of an option if he wanted any chance to manage a major league team.
This opportunity just might be his chance.
If Ruben doesn't want Charlie Manuel to come back (which would result in a lot of controversy from fans), he could choose to promote Sandberg to become the next manager of the Phillies for 2012.
Sandberg has said that he enjoys being at spring training this year and the players (notably Chase Utley) have commented that they really enjoy working with him.
If Sandberg has already formed chemistry with some players this year, imagine what he could do as a manager for the Phillies in the future.
I'm not here to say that Sandberg would be a better option than Manuel. Manuel's got the big-league experience with the Phillies and he's already proved stable in the managerial position. Sandberg might be a risk to sign, but he could come cheaper and lead the Phillies to a future World Series, regardless of whether Manuel wins or doesn't win the World Series this season.
Manuel would be a safer bet, but Sandberg could be a good investment for the future.
And seeing that Ruben knows about investments in players and with Charlie, only the sky's the limit.