Just days after logging his 1,000th career managerial win, and 780th for the Phillies, Charlie Manuel is out as Philadelphia’s skipper -- fired to be precise. He's been replaced by Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.
Sometimes derisively dismissed as a “hayseed” for his “folksy” manner of speech and leadership – both by rival cities and inside Philadelphia – Manuel was no fool.
Manuel has a .548 lifetime winning percentage (he managed the Indians from 2000-2002), .551 with the Phillies. In 12 MLB seasons, his teams finished atop their division six times. He guided the Phillies to a World Series win in 2008 and got them to Game 6 of the Fall Classic against the Yankees in 2009.
A team of his never finished in worse than third place – until this season. The Phillies, beset by injuries and under-performance, are in fourth place with a 53-67 record as Manuel leaves.
And though the Phillies capitalized on the Mets’ collapse in 2007, logging Manuel’s first first-place finish in the City of Brotherly Love, Mets fans shouldn’t necessarily be happy that Manuel is on his way out of the NL East.
Manuel’s Phillies were 81-76 against the Mets in 157 games (.515 winning percentage), 49-39 during their heyday of 2007-2011. In nine seasons with Manuel at the helm, the Phils won the head-to-head regular-season series against the Mets four times: 2007 (12-6), 2009 (12-6), 2011 (11-7), 2013 (7-5, so far). They tied in 2010 (9-9).
Now Sandberg is skipper, reversing the Phillies’ sin from Jan. 27, 1982, when they traded him – with Larry Bowa – to the Cubs for Ivan de Jesus. Sandberg won the 1984 NL MVP, nine Gold Gloves and seven Silver Sluggers. He was a 10-time All-Star – every season from 1984-1993 – before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
(Ivan de Jesus, by the way, never won any awards or made any All-Star teams. He had a .623 on-base plus slugging percentage with the Phillies before he himself was traded out of town.)
The Phillies are not rebuilding. Cliff Lee is signed through 2015 with a club option for 2016. Cole Hamels signed a long-term deal last season, and Chase Utley extended his contract this year. Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon may be with the club through at least 2016. The mostly top-heavy payroll does have some young talent, with Domonic Brown finally flashing power this season and making his first All-Star team. The team is taking an extended look at third baseman Cod Asche and outfielder/first baseman Darin Rug as the season comes to a close.
So Sandberg, as respected as he is throughout the game, is not being given a soft mission (despite the problems that persist throughout the roster he’s being handed).
The Mets are likely in for a battle with him.
They may actually have had things easier with Charlie.