In an article today for CBS Sports, MLB insider Jon Heyman put Phillies skipper Ryne Sandberg near the top of his “MLB Managers on the Hot Seat” list. But is Sandberg really in danger of losing his job this season?
Normally to lose your job as a manager in Major League Baseball, one of a handful of situations has developed. Your team disappoints, falling short of expectations. The loftier those expectations, and the worse the performance, the greater the chances of a firing.
“No way he should take the hit for what’s gone on over there.” ~ Heyman on Sandberg
The other principle ways to get fired are to reveal yourself to simply be incompetent, or to perform an act or say something that is so egregious that you leave management no other option, or to have just been around for awhile without reaching a certain level of success.
It would be extremely difficult to fit Sandberg into any of these categories. The team’s own upper management wrote them off months ago. The national press sees them as the likely worst team in baseball this season. You cannot fall short of expectations when there are no expectations.
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It is highly unlikely that Sandberg commits an act or makes a statement that gets him fired. He is a consummate professional. A disciplined Hall of Fame player who fought his way back up the chain, becoming a winning manager at the minor league level, positioning himself for just this very opportunity. No way he blows it on stupidity.
You cannot say that things have gotten stale around him, since this will only be his second full season at the helm. And look at the roster that he inherited: a once-great but aging core of high-salaried veterans, and marginally talented youngsters.
For anyone in a position of responsibility with the Phillies to have the temerity to hold Sandberg as incompetent because he could not win in this dysfunctional situation would be the height of chutzpah. He certainly did not have any part in creating this horrific roster situation – but they did.
There is only one excuse for firing Sandberg: the scapegoat scenario. The team is awful and losing at an embarrassing pace, the fans are staying away in droves and complaining up a storm, and there appears to be no hope.
In such situations, certainly Ruben Amaro and Pat Gillick are not going to resign, admitting the truth, that it was mostly their fault. No, it is much more likely that the old adage “you can’t fire the players” will come into play.
If the people who hired Ryne Sandberg really believe that he was the right man for the job, then they should not even consider dumping him until they give him some real talent with which to work.
For me, the jury is still out on Ryno longerm. But no matter how bad it gets in 2015, the problem is not likely to be in the manager’s office.