Could Joe Maddon Replace Ryne Sandberg?
By Matt Veasey
Could Joe Maddon be a potential candidate to manage the Philadelphia Phillies once he decides to return to Major League Baseball?
That possibility was explored today by none other than Baseball Hall of Famer and insider Peter Gammons, who speculated on a possible Phillies scenario involving Maddon. In his scenario, Maddon might sit out a season, working as a commentator, taking a breather from the hectic daily work of managing a ballclub.
Gammons then speculated on which team the former Rays skipper might land with: “Cubs? Maybe. Mets? Unlikely. Dodgers? Maybe. Phillies? Hey, Joe’s a Pennsylvania guy, and once managed Ruben Amaro, whom he still calls “Ben”.”
For his part, Amaro was specifically asked by Todd Zolecki about the sudden availability of Maddon. Amaro’s quote: “We have a manager. Ryne Sandberg is our manager.”
Current Phils skipper Ryne Sandberg is a Hall of Famer as a player, one whom the Fightins’ organization let go too soon in that role. The organization would certainly hate to see him leave and become a star elsewhere yet again, as happened with another former manager, Terry Francona. Sandberg has not yet tasted success here in Philly, however, and has struggled in establishing a relationship with some of his players.
Ryne Sandberg has a contract through 2016, with a 2017 team option. (Photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Sandberg was named by Baseball America as it’s Minor League Manager of the Year for 2011 after leading the Phils AAA farm club, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, to the International League championship series. He has a contract lasting through 2016, with a club option for 2017.
However, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine a scenario wherein Sandberg struggles with his players through yet another losing campaign in 2015. If Maddon does indeed decide to sit one out and take a breather, no doubt the calls to make such a move would grow as the 2015 season drew to a close.
The Phillies appear to be in full-blown status quo mode. Acting club President Pat Gillick has stated that Amaro is safe as the General Manager. Now Amaro says that Sandberg is safe as his Manager. Everyone is backing everyone else. Gillick’s “it’s probably a couple years” quote as to Phillies contention may have been meant to take some heat off both men. But another long, losing season, especially if things get even worse, will put tremendous heat on everyone involved.
Right now, I think it’s too soon to give up on Sandberg. Yes, he has struggled some. Of course, we are all well aware of the shortcomings of the current Phillies roster makeup. Now we have public admissions from ownership that the team is not expected to contend for the next couple of seasons. It may be difficult to properly judge Ryno under these conditions.
But if such a scenario develops wherein Maddon is available next off-season, and if the Phillies 2015 is indeed both a losing one, and a dysfunctional one? Well, then it would be irresponsible to not at least entertain the idea of a switch to the more experienced, proven winner in Joe Maddon.