Will he be allowed to enter next season without receiving an extension to his deal? Will a more dramatic decision be made instead, or will a compromised position be taken?
Extend Manuel's contract?
There is surely a large segment of people, within a group of fans who currently believe that Manuel should be fired, who never wanted the former Cleveland Indians' hitting coach and manager to be hired. It seems reasonable to believe that after he was initially brought on board as a special assitant to general manager Ed Wade in 2003, that his path to the manager's job may have been set in place.
It's difficult, if not impossible, to put emotionally-charged grudges aside. However, those do so are able to look more logically at reality.
Extending a manager's contract doesn't ensure that he will live through the life of his revised arrangement. Lengthening Manuel's current contract would send a message to the players that the organization supported him and that it considered the 2012 season to be an aberration.
Following that path could also result in Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs' manager Ryne Sandberg moving to another organization.
Replace Manuel at season's end?
Because the Phillies have already begun revamping the roster, the opportune time to revise part (or all) of its on-field managerial team would be right now.
Some detractors have formed their views of Manuel based upon Southern stereotypes, ageism and shallow reactions to his physical appearance. Whenever individuals mix personal potshots about him with baseball points, their inner biases were wittingly, or unwittingly, revealed.
Others have logically questioned a variety of pointed topics including: His use of in-game strategy, practice of over-playing a variety of positional starters, handling of the entire pitching staff and his use of disciplinary measures.
Manuel could be offered a different type of position within the organization, which would allow him to state that he was 'retiring' from his on-field duties.
Sandberg clearly appears to have been groomed for Manuel's job, as evidenced by his specific placement at the team's highest minor league managerial position.
Take the middle ground?
Let's assume that Philadelphia plays it 'safe' and adds Sandberg to the coaching staff in the offseason. Every Phillies' player, opposing team, and fan across North America would then see that the 'Sword of Damocles' had been positioned in the dugout just above Manuel's neck when next season began.
If Philadelphia got off to a bad start next spring, the loud chant for 'Ryno' would endlessly be heard from the never-bashful throng at Citizens Bank Park.
I don't want to see Sandberg leave the organization again and am wondering if this compromised position would be best? With that being said, at the very least, I would offer him a coaching job next season.
Other than as a late-season call-up, Sandberg has zero major league coaching experience. So, if the Phillies hire him as their manager, he will need to be surrounded by an experienced staff. I'm not sure how many current members would be retained, but the organization might feel comfortable keeping some of those men in place in order to aid the transition of dugout power.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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