As the Philadelphia Phillies get set to head to spring training, Charlie Manuel is entering the final season on his contract. Considering how last season played out and the uncertainty surrounding a revamped roster, it's not possible for this manager to know what challenges might lie in 2013.
I've always been a Manuel guy. By that I mean that I have and will support his efforts to lead his diamond squad.
There was a rather large group of people who wanted Jim Leyland hired, instead of Manuel, after Larry Bowa exited the Citizens Bank Park scene. Many of those individuals never gave “Chuck” credit when the Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays to win the 2008 World Series, or when they returned to the Fall Classic in 2009 and faced the New York Yankees.
Manuel will always be fully linked to the fact that the Phillies rose to the top of the baseball world while he was in charge. Emotional logic that stubbornly concludes otherwise is flawed.
Expect to see this still-existent contingent of fans vocally call for Manuel's removal the first time the Phillies have a two-game losing streak. Their voices will also likely rise to a screaming rant if the team is under .500 for any extended period of time.
I've always been a Ryne Sandberg fan as well, even when he was with the Chicago Cubs. My hope is that this renewed Phillie can use his first major league coaching year to prepare for an orderly transition into the manager's office in the relatively near future.
A playoff rebound, regardless of the subsequent postseason outcome, would help all involved to play through this season on a respectful note.