Philadelphia Phillies' general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has a number of tough decisions to make before next spring arrives. He's already revealed part of his plans through recent coaching staff changes. These initial moves indicate that next season will become a transitional year that connects to a new era.
Renewing the base
Ryne Sandberg (third base and infield coach), Rod Nichols (bullpen coach) and Steve Henderson (hitting coach) are now part of the Phillies' major league staff. Their combined baseball philosophies will help to shape a new red pinstriped wave. So, it will be interesting to see how many veterans decide to ride it with them. Many of those who don't will be sent to other shore points within the next year.
The front office obviously was fond of how Sandberg led his Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs' squad during the past two seasons. It was also impressed by the influence that Nichols had with young pitchers and that Henderson had with young hitters.
Yes, the seeds of a dugout transition to a post-Charlie Manuel era have been planted.
Common sense gratitude
In my opinion, Manuel will always own a full share of the 2008 World Series championship. He's a decent man who fronted a trip to the promised land. Any hand-wringing about other theoretical titles is illogical and ungrateful at best.
Ed Wade, Hall of Famer Pat Gillick and Amaro all endorsed Manuel and his now historic record. What type of hardcore baseball fans would convince themselves that they know more about the game and about Manuel than those three men? Some sentences, like that last one, clearly silence all rational critics.
'Cholly' (a derisive term used by his detractors) will serve as a positive mentor for Sandberg in 2013. Because Manuel's contract will be expiring, he seems likely to be allowed to publicly hand the reigns over to 'Ryno' after next season ends.
Amaro has said that Sandberg isn't the heir apparent. But, should any general manager be expected to spell out his hopes one year in advance?
With obvious succession plans in place, next season should be very intriguing.
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 in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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