Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is entering the second year of a new three year deal he signed prior to the 2011 season. He’s the longest tenured manager in the National League and the third longest in the MLB. There was talk on local radio this weekend of where he stands in the eyes of the fans and in the front office. The discussion centered on whether or not Charlie is in the proverbial “hot seat” and if he isn’t, what it will take to keep him out or put him in. A good portion said that Charlie would at least last to see the end of his contract but if he didn’t at least make it to the World Series this year, then 2013 would be his “year in the hot seat”. The Phillies could then choose whether or not to renew his contract, assuming Charlie wants to come back in 2014 at the age of 70, assuming again that he doesn’t pull a Jim Riggleman and walk out mid season in 2013.
So next year after the 2013 season the Phillies could be faced with an open hiring event on managers. There are many candidates the Phillies could choose from, both in house and out of house. It’s unknown at this point how many free spots could be open after 2013 and we could reasonably assume Charlie would come back regardless of how the Phillies finish the next two seasons. But it’s something that needs to be discussed, both for 2014 and in the future. Here are some possible choices:
The Heir Apparent
Ryne Sandberg: Sandberg is currently entering his second season as manager of the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs, the Phils’ AAA farm team and was chosen as 2011 minor league manager of the year. That gives him a familiarity with the organization as well as the rising stars that can be on the team’s 25 man roster by 2014. He rose up through the Chicago Cubs farm system, managing three of their teams to winning seasons. But when Lou Pinella left the game, Sandberg was passed over in favor of Mike Quade, who only lasted one season as Cubs manager and then was replaced by Dale Sveum. Sandberg was interviewed by the St. Louis Cardinals after the 2011 season, but he was not selected as manager. It’s likely that he will be offered interviews again for any post 2012 opening so he might not even be available to pick up the clipboard when Charlie puts it down.
Pete Mackanin: The Phillies current bench coach interviewed with both the Cubs and the Red Sox this past offseason. He has years of managerial experience in the minors. He served as a mid season interim manager twice and it is surprising as to why he hasn’t gotten a job yet. He took over bench coach responsibilities from Jimy Williams in 2009 so his Phillies experience counts for something.
Mickey Morandini: Morandini came back to the game after years being a power dad at home. In 2011 he managed the short season class A Williamsport Crosscutters. In 2012 he made the move up to the A level Lakewood Blueclaws in what was known as the “Parent Shift” when Mark Parent left his spot as Reading Phillies manager to be the bench coach for the White Sox and the minor league managers each moved up a spot. If Sandberg takes a job elsewhere, he could find himself in Clearwater in 2013 and become closer to Charlie’s spot.
The Phillies could decide to go with someone with experience managing a big league club down the road, regardless of a potential manager’s previous record.
Ken Macha: Macha led the Oakland Athletics to four straight winning seasons and two division titles but was canned by Billy Beane after getting swept in the ALCS in 2006. He came on board with the Brewers for two seasons in 2009 and 2010 but finished third both years.
John Russell: Russell played for the Phillies between 1984 and 1988. He managed the Pittsburgh Pirates for three seasons. During the 2010 season, the Pirates announced that John Russell’s contract had been extended through the 2011 season; though the extension occurred during the previous off season, the Pirates waited until June to announce the new contract, a move unpopular with many fans. He was fired anyway after the season and replaced Juan Samuel as 3rd base coach in Baltimore, only to move to the bench coach position due to bad knees. I doubt anyone will hold his lack of success in Pittsburgh against him. Find me a manager who can deliver a winning season there and I’ll show you manager of the century.
Terry Francona: It could happen. Francona could be the biggest managerial free agent of the 2012-2013 off season. Many managers take a year off and come back to the game with a new spirit. Francona is only 52 and his success with the Red Sox can’t be ignored. He did what he could with the Phillies tight check book in the 90’s. Whether or not he wants to manager after this year will be a major factor in all MLB vacancies.
The Phar Phuture
Jimmy Rollins: Jimmy has four years left on his contract with the Phillies. This season, keep your eye on him. Or watch footage of him from past games. He is never far from Charlie Manuel. Watching. Learning. Soaking it in. Rollins is a player with a great career and a legacy in Philadelphia, but anyone can see how much love he has for the game. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t find a way to wear red again after he hangs up the cleats.
The Lakewood Blueclaws, the A-level affiliate of the Phillies, have announced who will be coming out to sign autographs for fans this summer and who will be having a bobblehead night. It’s quite an interesting list, mixing everything from local Olympic heroes to political hodgepodge.
2012 Bobblehead Giveaways
Chrisite Rampone – June 25th, 7:05 pm – Rampone, a Point Pleasant native and the captain of the United States Women’s Soccer team, will be “bobbled” by the BlueClaws in advance of the Olympics. The former Point Pleasant Boro High School and Monmouth University star has represented the United States in four World Cups (capturing the title in 1999) and this summer in London will be her fourth Olympics (including gold medal wins in 2004 and 2008). (Please note that the ZOOperstars appearance scheduled for June 25th has moved to June 26th)
Vance Worley “Made the Phillies” – July 14th, 7:05 pm – Worley becomes the 14th former BlueClaw to be “bobbled” as part of the “Made the Phillies” series. A 3rd round pick in 2008 from Long Beach State, Worley joined the BlueClaws later that summer and went 3-2 with a 2.66 ERA over 11 starts. He became the 34th player to go “From the Shore to the Show” when he made his Phillies debut in 2010 and in 2011, after going 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA with the Phillies, he finished second in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. His bobblehead is presented by Central Jersey Blood Center.
Bobblection – August 21st, 7:05 pm – BlueClaws fans will cast their votes for President on August 21st when a “Bobblection” comes to Lakewood for the first time. There will be 500 bobbleheads of both Barack Obama and the Republican nominee for President. As they enter the park, fans choose one bobblehead. Whichever bobblehead runs out first is declared the winner.
Mickey Morandini – September 1st, 7:05 pm – Morandini, who was named BlueClaws manager in November, will be “bobbled” for the first time by the BlueClaws on the final weekend of the regular season. He played 11 years in the big leagues including eight with the Phillies. He was an All-Star in 1995 and a member of the Phillies 1993 National League Champions club.
The “Bobbleection” should prove interesting. You find crazies on both sides of the aisle. I wonder what happens if the GOP has no nominee by the time this night happens? Their convention begins on August 27. Maybe they will just give out a generic Elephant repping the Republicans. Also Vance Worley is quite the popular dude this year. In addition to his Blueclaws bobblehead night, the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs will have a Vance Worley bobblehead night on May 1st as well as a Vance Worley replica glasses giveaway on May 17.
2012 Autograph Signers
Jim Kaat – April 26th, 6:35 pm – Kaat won 283 games over 24 Major League seasons, pitching for the Senators/Twins, White Sox, Phillies, Yankees, and Cardinals. After his playing career, he spent 22 years in the broadcast booth, calling Yankees and Twins games, and now works for MLB Network.
Mark Ballas – June 6th, 7:05 pm – Ballas, of Daning With the Stars fame, has been competing on the show since the fall of 2007 and was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography in 2011. He was twice won the competition, with celebrity partners Kristi Yamaguchi (season six) and Shawn Johnson (season eight).
Bret “The Hitman” Hart – June 16th, 7:05 pm – A five-time WWE Champion, Hart follows in a long line of professional wrestlers who have signed autographs at BlueClaws games, including Mick Foley, Sgt. Slaughter, and King Kong Bundy.
Doc Gooden – June 30th, 7:05 pm – Gooden joins Kaat as a former baseball star to sign autographs at a 2012 BlueClaws game. He pitched for six teams in his career, including the Mets and the Yankees, winning World Series titles with the 1986 Mets and 1996 and 2000 Yankees. He became the youngest player to appear in an All-Star Game when he made his first of four appearances in 1984. In 1986, at age 21, he became the youngest pitcher to start an All-Star Game. In 1996, he threw a no-hitter while pitching with the Yankees, a game that was ironically broadcast by Kaat.
I always like WWE Superstars. Bret Hart is my all time favorite. This is not one to miss.