It's been ten years since the Phillies opened up camp without Charlie Manuel at the helm. 2014 marks a new era for Phillies baseball as the skipper in waiting, Ryne Sandberg, looks foward to his first spring training as a major-league manager. A new era brings a new voice, a new leader, and a new direction. Hopefully a start of something good for a team that is trying to get back to baseball relevancy.
After Ryno took over for the "fired" Cholly in mid-August last summer, he saw his ups and downs with a team that had essentially threw in the towel. The Phillies finished 20-22 with Sandberg as coach. But as every winter marks the end of life, every spring brings forth new life, new opportunities.
For the Phillies and Ryne Sandberg this spring signifies just that. The mood in Clearwater and for Phillies phans alike is a mood of "hope." As an always optimistic phan, I "hope" the Phillies can win 85 games and "hope" they can make a push for a wildcard. Asked if the Phillies had done enough to be contenders this season, Cliff Lee's answer was, "I hope so."
Ryno is quite clear of the phans disengagement after two rough years of below average baseball. For a phan base and a team accustomed to winning, it has taken its toll. Philly is restless. Sandberg knows that winning cures all. He hopes that a new way of doing things will bring about change.
In two previous blogs I highlighted two young phuture stars for the Phillies in Jake "the Diek Man" Diekman and Cody Asche. Add in Darin Ruf, Ben Revere, Caesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco, Jessie Biddle, Freddy Galvis, even Cole Hamels and Dom Brown and there's reason to get excited about a Phillies team filled with old guys. You look at the starting lineup, the average age of the Phillies (27th oldest) and the additions of "old" guys like Byrd, Abreu, and Burnett and it's easy to get frustrated with RAJ. We all have been there!
But there's plenty of room for optimism as the Phillies open camp in Clearwater, gearing up for a new season. Charlie was a loyal guy, loyal to a fault. He was a players coach who loved his players.
As Sandberg ushers in a new regime look for the young guys, the phuture of the team, to get their oppurtunities. This should challenge the older, core guys and bring about a better brand of Phillies baseball. New coach, new season, new life for the 2014 Phillies.