This 42 Game Audition Can Only Hurt Interim Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg


A lack of justice.  That is what bothered most Phillies fans today after the team let go the winningest manager in the club's history, who led the team to one of the team's two World Series victories.   He should have had a better fate, they say; it's only fair.

But, lost in the Charlie Manuel injustice is the next injustice: Ryne Sandberg.

Sandberg has been the good soldier in his quest to become a major league manager.  He worked his way through the minor leagues, riding buses and eating at Waffle Houses, earning a pittance of a salary.  But ultimately, the Chicago Cubs just respected Sandberg too much to let him manage for them.

The Phillies let him join their organization with no promises.  The Cubs knew that the team was going to be bad for several years.  There was no way that they could drag their beloved Hall of Fame second baseman through the muck that is the Chicago Cubs.  Mike Quade? He came and went with no one batting an eye at him.  Dale Sveum? He was a nice utility player in the major leagues; it is okay to sully his name.

Now, the Phillies are willing to damage Sandberg's name.

Sandberg is getting his chance, but what about this team and circumstances could possibly make him look good?   Sandberg is taking over 3/4 into a season with:

  • The same lineup Charlie Manuel had to work with (literally – it was the same in Sandberg's first game as it was in Manuel's last).
  • The same coaching staff
  • A bullpen that includes Luis Garcia, B.J. Rosenberg, Cesar Jiminez, Raul Valdes, and Zach Miner, with talented youngsters Jake Diekman and Justin De Fratus having to be thrown into the toughest situations in games.

The older lineup that Manuel had to work with is still there and only getting older.  The only two young players getting a look are Cody Asche and Darin Ruf, and both had hits in the Phillies' 4-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Sandberg's debut.  But the offense as a whole was the same old offense.  

Cliff Lee's eight innings allowing three runs should be enough to win.  But it wasn't.  And it will probably continue to not be enough.

Michael Martinez will still be Michael Martinez.  Casper Wells probably will do as he did for the other three organizations to which he belonged this year.  The bullpen will be the bullpen.  John Lannan is done for the year, and the Phillies have no starter lined up for his next turn in the rotation.   The Phillies will see if Roy Halladay has anything left, but he might not.  Michael Young isn't going anywhere and will have to play.   The Phillies are likely to do about what they are doing right now, no matter who is at the helm.

So what exactly does  Ruben Amaro Jr. think that the rest of the season – 42 games with more of the same – will tell the Phillies about Ryne Sandberg?

Hopefully it won't be wins and losses.  I think we know how they will turn out.

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