Today Ruben Amaro sat besides Ryne Sandberg, both beaming, to announce that Sandberg, effective immediately, is the Phillies manager. Interim shinterim.
This news came as a huge shocker. When Sandberg moved from Lehigh Valley up the major league ranks this year, no one had a clue that he was for all intents and purposes the manager in waiting. Sandberg’s deal is for three years with an option in 2017 for a fourth. Sandberg, who would have a better clue than most anyone on whether he would one day become the full-time manager, in regards to the last month said:
“I had a good feeling. I am a positive guy and I like to do my work and let my work speak for itself. But you never know in baseball. I had a good feeling about what was going on here, and things felt good here. It felt good in the clubhouse. It felt good in the dugout. And I think improved performance on the field was the biggest gratifying thing, and also with the players having a chance to gain experience and improve, all those things felt good.”
I don’t know if you caught that, but it felt good. Oh, and gratifying, but mostly good.
The improved performance line is a bit suspect. As interim manager, Sandberg led the team to a 18-16 record. (He is 0-1 as the real manager). He let Cody Asche and Darin Ruf play, not that he had much choice after injuries and the purging of Amaro’s big offseason acquisitions like Michael Young.
He did institute new rules like what time to show up for games. He talked to the veterans of the team about being leaders and mentors to younger players. Although non-measurable, I think those things do matter somewhat, and for what it is worth, Chase Utley and others seem to not be as mopey. I recall Cole Hamels even talking about being a mentor to younger guys on the team in a recent radio interview on WMMR. So, yeah, that is a thing, and Sandberg deserves credit for it. Whether that helps a team win is another question.
So there you have it. Ryne Sandberg is the Phillies’ 52nd manager. He will spend October picking his new staff and evaluating the roster leading up to free agency. There is a lot more to talk about with Ryne. I am sure the rest of the TBOH staff will tackle some of those topics in the next few days.