Ryne Sandberg seems like his approach to managing is about as black and white as it gets. It is a very methodical, calculated view to his team and players. Struggle against left-handers? You will see the bench. Say “Who cares?” about your Spring Training stats, you see the bench. Lead the team in stolen bases and average? You bat lead-off. Even when he speaks, Sandberg seems to just be blurted out standard, generic response. “Well, we were one hit away, the big inning got us and we need more timely hitting. That mistake cost us.” Pick your favorite cliché as to why teams lose, I’m rather confident that if Sandberg has not uttered it once before, he will before the end of his tenure in the Phillies’ dugout.
Now, with that in mind, being so black and white, you’d certainly would think that he’d be one to embrace statistics and basic logic. If he embraced looking at some more advanced hitting, or ever baserunning metrics, it may point to some lineup changes.
Specifically, it may be beneficial for the Phills to move Cody Asche to the second spot of the lineup, or at least higher in the order. Asche is one of the more promising Phillies, Sandberg mentioned he likes his approach and what he has been doing at the plate lately, saying:
“He seems to be nice and aggressive right from the get-go at home plate, looking for a pitch to hit. Going up there to do something with the pitch," said Sandberg,”
Asche is looking for that right pitch to hit, Sandberg is right on that front. Even if he is surrendering himself to get out and advance the runner, Asche has displayed good bat control.
If Mr. Sandberg, the robot, as some have called him, were to look at the numbers and see what his personnel is, he may be inclined to make a lineup change. While hitting for the league average at thirdbase, Cody Asche has shown tremendous intelligence with the bat. Across the board, Asche is above the league average rates for advancing runners or having productive outs.
Check out how successful Asche is in moving runners this season, as only a 24-year-old:
It makes sense for Asche to bat in at least the top-five hitters. I’d personally recommend he bats second, behind either Revere or Rollins. But apparently Sandberg thinks its best to utilize his ability to advance runners in the six or seven hole, in front of one of the league’s worst hitters, Dom Brown.
The lineup has not produced very good results thus far this season, why not air on the side of logic and see what happens? He has nothing to lose.
Asleep at the wheel: One other minor thing I have against Sandberg is he sometimes seems asleep at the wheel. Sunday was the perfect example of that. Facing Arizona in the rubber game, the Diamondbacks had a man on second and two outs with their eight-hole hitter up. Their pitcher, Vidal Nuno, JUST ACQUIRED FROM THE AMERICAN LEAGUE, is not a big hitter to say the least. Despite that, Sandberg allowed his team, if not authorized it, to pitch to the regular eight-hole hitter, instead of the pitcher, and of course it led to a run being pushed across in a low-scoring affair. In what scenario did he think a RISP and regular hitter was a better matchup than facing the pitcher with two outs? It was , seemingly an example of the manager falling asleep in-game, as there was no tangible reason to prefer facing anyone in the lineup aside from Nuno. One out, and the pitcher was out of trouble.