During the Phillies recent road trip through Washington and Atlanta, Ruben Amaro Jr. kept taking Charlie Manuel out for coffee … and to the discuss the job both have of keeping the franchise and team a winning product.
The manager finally grew tired of the general manager’s coffee dates.
“Ruben and I had coffee for 6 days in a row and I got tired of having coffee,” Manuel said on Friday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. “Finally one day we were sitting there and I think I asked him, “What are we going to do? Where are we going?”
And so Amaro informed Manuel that the Phillies would not be renewing his contract for the 2014 season. After some more discussion, Amaro told Manuel, the winningest manager in club history, that he would be immediately replaced from his position.
Ryne Sandberg became the Phillies interim manager on Friday.
Manuel, who took over the Phillies managing job in 2005, guided the team to five straight NL East titles (2007-11), two NL pennants (2008-09) and a World Championship (2008).
But, in 2013, the Phillies (53-67) are on their way to their second straight fall without a postseason appearance. They entered play on Friday 20 ½ games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
“I think Charlie understands the decision, and that fact that we were making a managerial change, that it was in the best interest of the future of the organization,” Amaro said. “As we talked a little further it became evident that the best course of action was to make this change immediately as we begin the transition by offering the position to Ryne Sandberg on an interim basis. Charlie understood this decision. Making this change is not easy for me. Not easy for me personally and not easy for the organization. But it’s a change I think the Phillies need to make as we look toward the future.”
Manuel did not resign from his position. He also didn’t appear to hold a grudge, either.
“I didn’t resign and I did not quit,” Manuel said. “Let me tell you something: I’ve never quit nothing. And I didn’t resign. I think it was an understanding that we got going… I looked at everything we talked about, and believe me, we talked about everything. We talked about our club and our organization and of course myself. I’ll say this – the decision definitely came from our organization, but at the same time I definitely wanted to put my team and also the Philadelphia Phillies above myself. And I mean that.”
Manuel has been offered a front office job within the organization, but he said on Friday that he would take some time to think about it. Manuel, who turns 70 in January, said he had a hard time not putting on his baseball uniform on Friday. He believes he can still manage.
“I think I can manage for a couple more years, maybe 2-3 years,” Manuel said. “I’m not saying that’s what I’m going to do. I want to think about it. And of course somebody has to be interested in you. But at the same time I definitely respect the Phillies and the position they left for me. They left the door open. It shows how much they care about me, how much the want me and everything. Believe me, I will take the most consideration possible for that.”
The mutual respect between the man and the organization was evident in the closing minute of Amaro’s opening statement during Friday’s press conference. Amaro choked back tears as he turned the microphone over the Manuel.
“I just want to say this, you people may not know the relationship I’ve had with Charlie,” Amaro began, his eyes welling up, “He’s a special person. This is difficult for me. I hope he stays in our organization.”
But he won’t be behind the bench on Friday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, ending a nine season-tenure that saw him and the Phillies and go 780-636 (.551). Manuel, who previously managed in Cleveland, collected his 1,000th career managerial win on Monday in Atlanta.