Ryne Sandberg’s tryout as Phillies manager really couldn’t be going much better.
Since taking over for the fired Charlie Manuel, Sandberg has gone 13-10 with a roster that has seen Cesar Hernandez in the leadoff spot, Freddy Galvis hitting second, Kevin Frandsen hitting third, Carlos Ruiz batting cleanup and Darin Ruf hitting fifth. He’s had a bullpen that features Luis Garcia, Zach Miner, J.C. Ramirez, and Mauricio Robles. And he’s had a rotation with Ethan Martin, a still-recovering Roy Halladay and a struggling Kyle Kendrick throwing every fifth day.
That Sandberg has managed to go 13-10 during that time is a borderline miracle. Not only that, the team seems to be playing with a bit more urgency and effort, although trying to quantify something like that is a fruitless exercise.
Still, if the last two months of the season is really just a tryout for Sandberg, it’s hard to imagine what more he could do to earn the managerial job next year.
Of course, the Phils can’t come right out and give him the job yet. They have to adhere to The Selig Rule, which requires teams interview minorities for a number of top organizational positions, including manager. So there will be a managerial hunt of some kind.
But any managerial job search will likely just be for show. The Phillies job appears to be Sandberg’s.
Or, put it this way. If the Phils don’t give the job to Sandberg at this point, the reasons will have nothing to do with how the team has played on the field.
If there are any speed bumps ahead for Sandberg, it might be if somebody like Angels manager Mike Scioscia becomes available. He has a considerable pedigree and Philadelphia roots. If Amaro simply would feel more comfortable about his decision if he interviewed other candidates, possibilities include Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., Indians third-base coach Brad Mills and Braves first-base coach Terry Pendleton. Alomar has been a popular managerial candidate for years, and he is a former teammate of Amaro’s in Cleveland in 1994-95. Mills worked with Terry Francona in Philadelphia and previously managed the Astros. It is well known Pendleton impressed Amaro when he interviewed for the job Manuel ultimately received in November 2004.
I would also make a phone call to Tampa pitching coach Jim Hickey and see what kind of managerial candidate he would make and if he had any interest in a promotion. Just to kick the tires.
Sandberg has apparently been a sorely needed change of pace for the Phils. Multiple players, including Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz and Kevin Frandsen, have noted players seem to be going about their business with more urgency, something that may have been lacking towards the end of Manuel’s tenure with the team.
The bottom line is that it’s hard to see what more Sandberg could do to earn himself the job outright for 2014. While a job search might be good for all concerned, Sandberg seems like a lock to be the manager of the Phillies next year.