When the Phillies announced several changes in their coaching staff roughly an hour or so after the season ended, speculation was Triple-A manager and Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg would be hastily promoted to the position of bench coach.
On Thursday, Sandberg was indeed hired by the big club, but reportedly to be the team's third base coach. Nothing further -- for now at least.
Sandberg replaces Juan Samuel after one year over there, though unlike several others, Samuel retains a job (for now). Bench coach Pete Mackanin, first base coach Sam Perlozzo, and hitting coach Greg Gross were all left go. No word just yet on what Samuel will do for the club, but taking over for Perlozzo would be my guess.
Also promoted from Lehigh Valley were hitting coach Steve Henderson, who will presumably replace Gross there, and Rod Nichols.
The hires no doubt will be seen as a way to placate Sandberg, who many believe could be the next manager of the Phillies. Charlie Manuel has one year remaining on his contract, and whether it's due to his team potentially under-performing again, or at age 69 this coming season he simply chooses to step down after next season, it could be his last in the organization.
Many see Sandberg as his replacement. The IronPigs made their first ever playoff appearance under Ryno in 2011. Of course, there is nothing keeping another team from swooping in and naming Sandberg their manager now, as at least in Philadelphia he is viewed as hot candidate.
Sandberg has interviewed with the Cubs in the past -- the team he spent the majority of his big league career with -- but for now seems content biding his time with the Phillies organization. That's good news, as one way or the other, Charlie can't manage forever. He will manage at least one more year however, just with a barrage of new faces around him.