Ryne Sandberg, by all indications, is Ruben Amaro’s guy. Amaro hand-picked him years ago as one of the game’s more obvious heir apparents to the team’s most successful manager in franchise history, Charlie Manuel. Sandberg always seemed like an odd choice to bring to Philadelphia, as he never really was viewed as future managerial material, or at least one many predicted success at the helm. He even was passed over by the team he became a legend for, the Chicago Cubs, twice.
Despite that, Amaro must have saw something in the former Phillie. He kept him in the minor leagues for two years, and apparently the need to get him in position as Phillies manager was so urgent they had to fire Manuel on the day he was due to be celebrated. While we have no indication that Sandberg would have quit as third base coach and left the next day if he did not have the job, it highlighted the fact that he is Amaro’s guy even more.
As I’ve outlined each week this season, I have more complaints than praise about some of the decisions and moves Ryne Sandberg has made this season. But that does not matter because the opinion of only one man matters, and that is Ruben Amaro.
So, the question becomes, if Ruben Amaro was no longer his direct boss, would Sandberg remain as manager? Ken Rosenthal applied logic to the situation while entertaining the hypothetical that many fans have called for about a year now when he promoted Sandberg: Ruben Amaro is not back for 2015. As Rosenthal sees it, it is entirely plausible that a new man may walk into the job and not quite have the hots for Sandberg that Amaro has.
“Manager Ryne Sandberg, in the first year of a three-year contract, at times looks overmatched, struggling in his communications with veterans and with his in-game management.
Charlie Manuel was a player’s manager, and perhaps it was inevitable that his successor would encounter friction. Sandberg inherited an old, bad team, and might simply need more time to grow. But considering that a new GM eventually would want his own man, the removal of Amaro would not bode well for the manager.”
He adds an editorial twist into his report, saying he looks “overmatched”, but I do not think he is off-base in that critique. Sandberg at times has looked like he simply did not account for things like future moves, or falling asleep on specific moments like pitching to the 8-hole hitter and not the pitcher. And yes, his communication with veterans has not just been poor, but nonexistent would be an accurate way to classify it.
Perhaps the most fair and rationale way to look at the situation is to pretend for a moment one is a new general manager with a fresh slate and open eyes. When he is evaluating his managerial position, likely with a bias of wanting his own guy, as Rosenthal speculates, would Sandberg’s body of work be enough to save his job? Think back to the last time the Phillies switched general managers. The previous manager, Manuel, was of course coming off a World Championship, which made him untouchable in terms of Sandberg wanting his own guy. Sandberg eventually did get his own guy, but delayed it because Manuel was having success. Is there any success of Sandberg standing in the way of him being replaced?
It’s one thing for me to critique Sandberg in a weekly blog post. But I’m only one opinion of someone with only the power of purchasing or not purchasing a ticket. I can only indirectly react to the Phillies by doing business with their ticket sales office. It is more revealing of the job Sandberg has done and the opinion of him when an unbiased national observer like Rosenthal, who likely gathered this opinion by speaking to others, is rather unimpressed to say the least. It may be a bigger, more significant report on just what type of manager he is, unimpressive, than any of my weekly blog posts can say.