Is Sandberg Really the Answer? – Phillies Nation

Is Sandberg Really the Answer?

Charlie Manuel will return as the Phillies manager next season, but he will be without cohorts Greg Gross, Sam Perlozzo and Pete Mackanin, as all three were let go on Wednesday. Underperforming teams often shake up the coaching staff, even if there is no direct correlation between that and success achieved the following season.

Manuel’s contract expires after the 2013 season and all signs are pointing towards Hall-of-Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg taking over the following year. The removals of Gross, Perlozzo and Mackanin open the door for Sandberg, who managed the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs for the last two seasons, to coach third base for the Phillies.

It will be Sandberg’s first major foray into handling the major leagues from the other side and would serve as on-the-job training for his likely subsequent promotion the next year.

But is he really the right fit for this team, at that time?

Sandberg was a tremendous major league baseball player and one of the best to play his position in history. He has also taken an unorthodox approach towards coaching by working his way up from the minors instead of citing his playing career and instantly garnering a big league bench coach position. This has earned him even more respect from players, executives and analysts alike.

However, we need to take a step back for a moment. Sandberg may become a terrific manager at the major league level, but the majority of the fanbase has accepted him as Manuel’s successor without any real knowledge of his managerial skill or style. The situation has progressed from fans calling for Manuel’s removal from a broad sense to clamoring specifically for Sandberg, perhaps as soon as next season.

When it gets right down to it, we know practically nothing about how he handles different situations. We know practically nothing about how he views 3-0 greenlights, using the closer in tie games on the road (especially when said closer makes $12.5 million per year), or not casting the No. 2 hole in cliche fashion with a poor hitter who excels at bunting. We know practically nothing about his bullpen strategies or working knowledge of the value of platoon splits. We know practically nothing about his modus operandi when it comes to total pitch counts vs. the added stress of extra pitches in specific innings.

We know practically nothing about Ryne Sandberg, the manager, and everything mentioned above is vastly more important than how cool it might seem to have RYNE SANDBERG as the manager.

First, let’s clear the air: this post isn’t purposely contrarian. Sandberg may, in fact, be the right choice. He has certainly worked hard enough to deserve a major league coaching position. And, frankly, it would be pretty cool to have him as the next manager. I’m not debating his merits as a major league manager, or as the future of the Phillies’ managerial staff. I’m simply raising the point that we don’t know much about him, and it’s important to understand someone’s style when making this type of decision.

Charlie Manuel’s faults were exploited this season, and if Sandberg is merely going to serve as a younger representation of those same philosophies, then his potential hiring doesn’t make much sense. Again, this isn’t to say that he shares those philosophies, but rather that we just don’t know yet, and that philosophies fuel decisions, which can shape outcomes.

The Phillies don’t need someone as forward-thinking as Joe Maddon, but they can’t continue to waste the talent on this team with someone as backwards-thinking as Manuel. While managers don’t necessarily have much of a statistical impact over the course of a grueling 162-game season, there are certainly numerous instances throughout a season where a manager can shape the outcome of a game with a crucial decision.

While we don’t know enough about Sandberg to speak to his style, it is abundantly clear that experience isn’t an issue. Hall of Fame players don’t usually get involved in coaching, and certainly no Hall of Fame players have taken Sandberg’s coaching route. He has far more experience coaching and managing than a few current major league managers. He has also spent more time coaching and managing than several other current managers had when they were given their first managerial post. He also played 16 seasons and is well-versed in clubhouse machinations. Sandberg is a baseball lifer.

It has also become evident that one of his major strengths is player development. Sandberg has parlayed the terrific work ethic from his playing days into coaching success, spending countless hours working with players to improve various facets of their respective games. Domonic Brown effused praise for Sandberg last season, and there is a litany of players who have done the same. Perhaps his pedigree has increased the likelihood that younger players listen and take heed of his advice, which is a definite positive.

Given that the 2014-17 Phillies will start to more prominently feature the top stars of a farm system in which Sandberg managed, the connection is obvious. While Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley are developed at this point, Sandberg is set to take over a lineup, bullpen and rotation that could be populated by at least 15 youngsters.

The front office also values how he handles the media, and while that seems extraneous to the actual on-field skill of a manager, it is clearly something that executives consider heavily when making decisions. Sandberg consistently comes across as humble, isn’t the type to shift blame or throw anybody under the bus, and truly cares about the players he coaches and the teams he works with.

In the end, Sandberg is most likely going to manage the Phillies from 2014-onward. He has worked his Hall of Fame butt off to get to this point, and it’s somewhat poetic that his career began with the Phillies casting him off to the Cubs, only for his managerial career to kickstart with the Cubs casting him off as the Phillies waited with open arms. It will be a much-needed change of pace for a team set to undergo some changes over the next couple of seasons. But we need to temper expectations here and remember that there isn’t much we know about his managerial style.

The Phillies may need a new manager, but they don’t need a younger version of the current manager. Sandberg doesn’t need to recite passages from Moneyball from memory or anything like that, but he can’t afford to make the very easy mistakes Manuel has made. It might not seem like much to request that the next manager be smarter than one of the least strategic managers in the game, but that’s far more important than Sandberg’s Hall of Fame playing career and the poetic narrative of his career with the Cubs and Phillies.

Hopefully, he’s up to the task, because it sure seems like the task is his.

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  1. George

    October 4, 2012 at 8:58 am

    “Backward thinking” is a rather harsh and probably undeserved criticism of Manuel. He may not be the greatest at strategic decisions, but he’s certainly changed his approach when he’s needed to. This year, in particular, he knew that power was lacking and played the game accordingly, relying many times on bunting and trying to move runners. He also used the bullpen differently when it became obvious that certain “key” pieces weren’t getting the job done.

    If Manuel’s “faults were exploited this season,” a lot of that can be blamed on players who didn’t execute. He wasn’t the guy popping up with a runner at third or striking out on a foul bunt. He wasn’t the closer who dished up runs in a tie game nor the one who couldn’t get through the eighth inning.

    • EricL

      October 4, 2012 at 11:54 am

      George, bunting actually lowers the run expectation for any given inning. It’s a losing strategy, and it’s almost always a mistake. That’s exactly the kind of backward thinking (relying on notions that have been empirically disproven to guide your strategy) that a non-dominant team needs to minimize.

      • George

        October 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm

        I don’t really agree with bunting most of the time, either. I was merely addressing Eric’s “backward thinking” comment by saying that Manuel did change his approach to reflect the team’s lack of power. The idea that he did change is anything but “backward.”

        In the case of this year’s Phils, a new approach was definitely needed. When you have Mendoza line hitters scattered throughout the lineup, sometimes it’s actually more productive to bunt, because although you’ve lost an out, you’ve moved a runner up a base. That doesn’t happen when the hitter strikes out 30% of the time, pops the ball up, or grounds into double plays. If Martinez, for instance is going to make an out in 83% of his at-bats, it might as well at least be a productive out.

      • brooks

        October 5, 2012 at 4:22 am

        Gee Eric, too bad you did not have a chance to straighten Tony LaRussa out.

      • Devin

        October 5, 2012 at 5:42 am

        Tony LaRussa didn’t know s*** from shinola. He was just fortunate enough to manage in a time when that was okay.

  2. JMills

    October 4, 2012 at 9:03 am

    I would be all right with Joe Madden.

  3. James

    October 4, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Why are we writing off Charlie Manuel? Has the success of the past several years meant nothing to you? I think we can agree that the Phillies had crippling injuries in the first half of the year, and still managed to end up at 81-81. They made a run at the end. I don’t know what you mean by his “backward thinking” of “faults”.

    • EricL

      October 4, 2012 at 11:56 am

      Nobody’s really writing him off. He’ll be 70 years old after next year, his contract expires after 2013, and there have been rumors about him retiring after next season. It just seems like that’s the direction the team is headed in.

  4. Bill Worth

    October 4, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Sandberg makes sense and does not share Charlie’s Philosophy always.. He was very vocal last year when Kratz and Moss were not given a shot. What makes Charlie a great manager is loyalty to players.. This works with players on the upswing, but a big problem on a aging team, which the Phils are… We were lucky to keeap Kratz (and why Schnieder was keep with him in the fold is a mystery), but we lost Moss and many other of the players Sandberg developed because of Charlie’s loyalty… The worked super well the last number of years, but someone has to say the time for change is here or were only going to grow way to old… though I keep thinking of the 83 weeze kids, whom were pretty good !!! but those kind of teams are a rareity …. No expert, but it think it is time for fresh blood and Sandberg would compliment Charlie for that, since he knows the players at AAA…. We already lost Brandon Moss to the A’s; Ryan Voglesong to the Giants, and many other vets Ryne too on and developed from journeymen players to decent pieces.. We need to listen to him more before discarding them… Moss in particular was the player he was upset about not getting a chance – and look what he did this year carrying the A’s…. We never should have got wigginton when we let him go !!!

    • Eric Seidman

      October 4, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Bill — very good info!

    • George

      October 4, 2012 at 7:46 pm

      Regarding Moss, one has to ask if not using him was Manuel’s idea or Amaro’s. Charlie may not have been the guy who blocked Moss by going after Bowker.

  5. xxloua

    October 4, 2012 at 10:38 am

    wait a sec!!! your blaming Charlie for these trades…how do you come about that at all……the trades are made up-stairs by who else but the great Amaro?????? Am I wrong? Of course, Charlie is getting old and so are we, day after day, some of us have time before we are considered OLD…..unfortunately, like Charlie, I am not one of those people……
    But give the guy a break, he is not totally responsible for the Phil’s downfall. I think that guy at the GM post has/had a lot to do with it also…More than Charlie in a sort of way…..I agree he probably made some errors in the use of his closers and such. But look at what he had left in that forsaken pen………
    The GM gave away a lot to get his pitchers who IMHO only lasted one year. Who are we to guess what they may or may not do next year… We only got Cole for now and WHAT??????

    what do I know? Are we all experts here?

    • schmenkman

      October 4, 2012 at 10:44 am

      I’m no expert (as many will attest to), but Halladay had two great seasons (CY in 2010, near-CY in 2011), as did Lee (near-CY in 2011, and one of the best pitchers in the NL this year).

    • Ryne Duren

      October 6, 2012 at 8:57 am

      charlie or any other manager has a lot of input as to who stays or goes! he doesn’t make the final descision but he does have input! just a for instance. charlie wanted a RH bat last year? we got pence. and then before that he wanted a stud starter we got hallady, lee (twice) oswalt. and now the big one mini mart! charlie wants him here for his (versatility!) he’s so versital he equally sucks at every position and from both sides of the plate!

  6. Bob in Bucks

    October 4, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Interesting but I am not sure what you mean by Manuel’s “backward thinking”. I would prefer knowing exactly what you mean rather than relying on easily thrown barbs.
    As to the players on the team I believe that is Amaro’s decision not Manuel. If you want to change how players are selected you need to change the GM not the manager. I do appreciate that you point out that we have no idea of how good a manager we have in Sandberg.

    • Eric Seidman

      October 4, 2012 at 10:48 am

      I don’t think I said anything about players on the team? They obviously impact strategic decisions but nowhere does it mention it’s Manuel’s fault that Amaro spent money on certain players. As for backwards thinking, maybe it’s too harsh, but Manuel has been outmanaged rather frequently throughout his tenure here for things ranging from not using pitchers correctly to not breaking up his hitters in the order based on platoon splits. JC Romero was dynamite against lefties and horrendous against righties but Manuel continued to use him against righties more often than against lefties. Howard and Utley were served up on a platter to the Giants and Javier Lopez in the NLCS, when breaking them up in anticipation of that move later in the game could have helped matters. He’s called for bunts in situations where it makes little sense to bunt, like with nobody out and two on. He refused to use the best pitcher in the bullpen during tie games on the road because he needed him to save games that might not need saving because the inferior pitchers were less likely to extend the game to even get to Papelbon. He has made strides over the version of himself from 2005-06, but he is really lacking when it comes to strategy. Phillies teams in the past had enough talent to overcome these flaws, but they didn’t for much of this season and the team suffered as a result.

      • schmenkman

        October 4, 2012 at 11:24 am

        Eric, great article, and I also don’t understand the infatuation with Sandberg (or why the Phillies wouldn’t conduct a thorough search rather than appoint an heir apparent).

        You highlight some real issues about Charlie’s managing, but a couple of points:

        – Regarding splitting Utley and Howard, Utley has hit about as well vs. lefties as righties for his career, and in fact in 2010 he hit better vs. LHPs: 294/.422/.581 (1.003 OPS).

        – I thought that not using your closer in non-save situations in a road game is common practice, and while it drives me as batty as the next guy, I’m not sure many other managers would approach that differently.

      • Eric Seidman

        October 4, 2012 at 11:38 am

        Schmenk — it is common practice but it’s still wrong, and there are managers that don’t follow that protocol. In the Phillies case it was even more crucial, especially this season, because Papelbon was far and away superior to every other option. As for Utley, yeah, he has hit lefties well, but if splitting them up lessened the likelihood that Javier Lopez – a much tougher lefty than, say, John Lannan — would have come in right away, there is still inherent strategy.

      • Jeff Dowder

        October 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm

        Papelbon pitched the most innings of his career (and wasn’t all that great in non-save situations), and you wanted the guy to pitch even more? In the first season of a five year deal? Whether you think it’s a good policy or not, other than the post-season, how many times have you actually seen a team’s closer used in a tie game on the road?

        This season had nothing to do with the use of the closer. It had everything to do with the talent of the 25 man roster.

      • Eric Seidman

        October 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm

        Jeff — no, he didn’t have to pitch even more. He could have been used differently, however. He could have pitched in fewer 3+ run leads and more closer games, whether the score was tied or not. I’ve done studies and others have as well that show there is no significant difference between closer performance in save/non-save outings. Even if Papelbon gave up a run in four consecutive non-save opps, I’d still bring him out in the tie game on the road because he was, without question, the best pitcher available to throw in that inning.

        Most innings of his career, sure, but I don’t personally consider there to be a difference between the 65-69 he has thrown over the last several seasons and the 70 he threw this year. He actually faced fewer batters and threw fewer pitches than he did in 2009 and 2010, as well, which are more important than raw innings.

        Let’s be clear — I’m not blaming the 2012 season on Charlie Manuel, and anyone who knows my work and absorbed this article would understand that. But I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that he handled several situations poorly this year and in years past. No, this season was not lost because Papelbon didn’t pitch in tie games on the road, but if the Phillies aren’t going to be an elite team the way they were, with several key contributors getting older, they need a manager who minimizes mistakes and uses his best reliever at the most opportune times, regardless of a nonsensical stat a newspaper reporter made up 50 years ago.

      • Pat Gallen

        October 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

        We need a like button up in this bitch for everything going on down here.

      • George

        October 4, 2012 at 7:58 pm

        I have to disagree on Romero. Manuel many time had no choice except to use him against righties. After Romero had gotten a leftie, he couldn’t be pulled for a righthanded hitter, then put back in to face a second leftie; it’s against the rules of baseball. Here, the blame rests squarely on Amaro for not getting a second lefthander for the ‘pen.

        I also don’t fully agree that he misused Papelbon. He did keep him out of ties early, but that wasn’t so much the case later in the year.

        One other item: Utley has very good numbers against lefthanded pitchers, so I’m not all that certain that breaking up the Utley-Howard combination would have done all that much.

      • George

        October 4, 2012 at 8:09 pm

        Papelbon was clearly the best alternative? How could Manuel possibly know that until he’d tried all the others? And what better pressure situation to try them in than a tie game at home, when at least you have a chance to score later?

        Papelbon can’t pitch every single game. You have to find out who else can do the job. It’s not Charlie’s fault that no one could.

      • Eric Seidman

        October 4, 2012 at 8:20 pm

        George, we’re going to have to agree to disagree here, as it seems is the case with practically everything I write. You always bring good points to the table, and I always welcome your comments even if I don’t agree with them, but you will not be able to convince me that Papelbon and Romero were used effectively.

        Romero was a situational lefty that faced righties more frequently than lefties even though, per my own normalized LOOGY statistics, he was the one of the very best against lefties in all of baseball, and downright atrocious against righties. You pick your poison based on the roster you’re provided. If the other team went L-R-L, then you decide which L you would rather him face because the benefit of him facing two L’s was often outweighed by his awfulness against Rs. And nobody said Papelbon had to pitch every game. My line of reasoning about how Papelbon could have been used has been discussed ad nauseum.

      • EricL

        October 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm

        George, regarding Romero, that’s what a LOOGY is: “Left-handed One Out Guy”

        It’s okay to use him against their best left-handed hitter and then go to a right hander, which are usually more plentiful in the bullpen.

        And if they really wanted to keep him in for two separate batters they could always do the old positional-switcheroo. You bring in your lefty to face the first left-handed hitter, then double switch bringing in the new reliever while moving your LOOGY to LF (I mean, was he really going to be worse defensively than Ibanez anyway?) and then after the right-handed pitcher faces the right-handed batter you double switch again, bringing your LOOGY back onto the mound and your positional player back into the OF.

        It’s very uncommon, but happens every now and again, and is completely legal (although a bit wasteful in terms of bench players)

      • Ryne Duren

        October 6, 2012 at 9:23 am

        couldn’t agree any more with that eric!

      • Ryne Duren

        October 6, 2012 at 9:43 am

        in response to george. george what you stated about manuels use of remero against lefty’s then having to face a righty? that is the exact reason the eric stated as to why manual should split utley and howard! by doing that you force the hand of the other manager. doe,s he leave the lefty in to face a righty? so he can face howard after him? which in some cases would increase the chances of the righty doing some damage, unless he was walked int.
        so many times this year and years past other teams have brought lefties in to face utley and howard, the last few AB’s of every game they face a different LH pitcher. it’s hard enough to hit the first time against any pitcher, but in a lot of games our 3/4 hitters are at a disadvantage because of the lack of them being split! and there’s a wonder as to how those guys don’t get it done sometimes . a lot of times besides their (howards mostly) own impatience.
        manuel not only handles his pen poorly he puts us at a disadvantage with the batting order. how long was chooch batting low in the order! how long after no results did he leave rollins in the 3 hole? i mean yea he had a lot of issues with injuries and all but he could have done a lot better! and his handling of the young pens confidence wise early in the year left a lot to be desired.

      • schmenkman

        October 6, 2012 at 9:56 am

        Since Utley has hit lefties about as well as righties, if I was the opposing manager and Utley and Howard were split, I would just bring in the LOOGY to face Howard.

  7. TheDipsy

    October 4, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Charlie Manuel and Andy Reid have a lot in common. They both keep a nice clubhouse. They both keep their players happy. They are very consistent with the way they handle situations and players really like that.

    But when you get them both between the lines in a game they will almost never outcoach or outmanage the other guy. In fact, both of them at times are just downright stupid.

    Don’t tell me that Papelbon has to come in the game with a 5 run game because he got all “lathered up” in the pen. And then not be available for the save situation the next day.

    The unwillingess to bust Jimmy’s ass and play Pierre more.

    Charlie Manuel was handed a lot of bad players to start the season. Thats cool. But that does not remove the fact that his in game managing is poor.

    I have no problem bringing Sanberg in. There are going to be a lot of changes in personnel next year and it will be hard for Charlie to tell guys that he likes things that those guys are not gonna like. So save him the necessity of having to. Charlie’s a nice guy. The time for a manager that just holds the tap at the keg are over, IMO. Lets bring Sandberg on board and see if he can steal us a few wins next year because Charlie surely will not.

    The Dipsy

    • Ryne Duren

      October 6, 2012 at 9:59 am

      dipsy you’re so right there buddy! eric said that we don’t know much about sandberg. i kinda disagree with that because he managed a team last year with not a lot of talent and they did pretty well! he benched brown for his attitude and lack of play in the outfield. he does’t seem afraid to do the things that need to be done. he did that knowing the brass was high on brown but he did it cause it was the right thing to do to help the teams chances of getting into the playoffs! that right there tells me he’s gonna be ok. as far as game management? well the bar is so low right now he’ll be a big improvement! he handled most of the young pitchers in the pen just fine. they knew their manager was behind them he showed confidence in them and they performed excellant for him. their stuff is good, stuff don’t change till you get older.
      they say managers don’t win or lose a game? well i can remember at least 10-15 games this past year where a move, or a non move, effected the games outcome! i think sanberg will be a fine manager. maybe if they move cholly up as a cheif interprator for any japanese player we get could get him moved out with dignity and save face for all . the bottom line is we need a change of atmosphere and strategy in the dugout.

  8. SavannahPhilliesPhan

    October 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I don’t in anyway consider myself an officiado of baseball. In fact I came to baesball very late in life. But I can not tell you how many times I yelled for Charlie to take a pitcher out who was bombing!!!

    • brooks

      October 5, 2012 at 4:31 am

      You could hear my voice from right field “Someone wake up Cholly!”

  9. The Original Chuck P

    October 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Hey, look on the bright side here… if Chase Utley’s not ready to go, we could just use Ryne Sandberg as our second baseman.

    Sam Perlozzo was useless, in my opinion. He was horrible as a third base coach and seemed sort of pointless at first. I’m glad that they kept Samuel. I think that he’s done a fairly decent job over there and I think that the players genuinely respect him. I can’t quite figure out what went wrong with Greg Gross (I thought that he would pan out)… reading between the lines of some of Charlie’s comments, it sounds like they may not have been seeing eye to eye. Either that or Charlie felt like Gross was unable to follow through with some of the things that Charlie wanted him to do either because he was lazy or because the players weren’t willing to listen. Pete Mackanin probably didn’t work out because he thought that he would have an opportunity to be a head coach here and the franchise didn’t see it that way… all the rumors last season were that he was looking for a head coaching gig. No offense, Petey, but you have to earn your keep.

    If Charlie does retire after this upcoming season… wall of fame? Retired number? I mean, you’re talking about the all-time winningest manager in Phillies history. Five straight division titles, two NL pennants and one very important WS trophy…

    • Ryne Duren

      October 6, 2012 at 10:06 am

      hey chuck i say give him all those ! they want to retire his number do it, do it all, he’s earned it with the bottom line of most victories and all that. but also give him a respectful and dignified route out of the managerial position. i don’t want to see him fired or let go! but i do want to replace him for the teams future success. the time has come it’s time to move on. and i thank cholly with all my heart as a lifetime phils fan for what he’s done for us and our team!

  10. john

    October 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    as for the coaching changes. steve henderson (who) over sandberg as hitting coach, huh? we should still have davey lopes at first, amaro was too cheap to pay him. charlie is being out coached on a constant basis. still doesn’t make many double switches. as for charlies record as manager, who wouldn’t win with the line up he has had. a kid could fill out his line up card, and handle the pitching staff, maybe not, but come on. they have regressed every year since 2008. he made huge playoff blunders in my opinion. he stuck with pedro way too long in the world series with matsui. the following year he put jimmy in the 6 hole coming off the dl, and moved ibanez to 7th. rollins left more men on base than i could handle,mr popup. ibanez hit good in the giants series, but jimmy had always killed the rally the inning before. then there the fact that ibanez pretty much carried the team the second half of the year, only to be put in the 7 hole. what an insult that was. had to mess with his head. think that’s why he didn’t hit in the first series. then the following year, he had rollins and vitorino on base late in the last 2 games . my bad, in the giants series. he had those guys on base late in game, and didn’t run. brings up the thought of boston vs. yankees, how one stolen base changed the whole series. and the rest is history. last year, utley got caught late stealing, and i was ok with that, i play to win. cant remember what he did to piss me off last year. i like to see the guy go now. i’ve never liked him. but i will admitt he’s good for the player. but he had a hand in ryan howard pulling the ball. and that’s the worst thing that ever happened to howard.

    • john

      October 4, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      another note on amaro being cheap, the worst off season move was letting valdez go. couldn’t believe he did that. guy could play anywhere, and pitch. plus he proved to be a decent hitter late in games, pretty clutch. the guy was flat out a gold glover, dumb dumb dumb. how much could he have helped this year..

      • john

        October 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm

        oh, it just hit me. charlie continued to play polanco hurt, which proved to be very costly. valdez has just as good a glove, and you could tell the guy had nothing. he was up in quite a few key situations and did nothing. i look at charlie as the guy who lost us a few, that’s how i will remember him. you have to win when your there, this was and is, a once in a lifetime team.

      • EricL

        October 4, 2012 at 5:16 pm

        Uh..Wilson Valdez was garbage this season, and the trade brought back Horst, who was outstanding. That was one of the best moves he made this past winter.

        Valdez: .206/.236/.227 in 208 PA.
        Horst: 1.15 ERA, 11.5 SO/9, 1.12 WHIP in 32 innings.

        Guys like Valdez (and better) are a dime a dozen:
        Orr: .315/.327/.444
        Galvis: .226/.254/.363
        Fontenot: .289/.343/.340
        Martinez: .174/.208/.252

        Wilson Valdez had the same OPS as Michael Martinez. Think about that. He cannot hit. He’s horrible. Horrible. Finding someone who’s good a defense but hits like Hellen Keller is not difficult at all, and the fact that Ruben managed to turn Valdez into a young, valuable, left-handed bullpen piece was amazing. Best move of the year.

  11. PhP54

    October 4, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    One word: Yes.

    Sandberg IS the right person. He deserves the chance and has put in his time. I hope he is the next manager, personally. If I am wrong, I will eat the words in 2014.

    • EricL

      October 4, 2012 at 5:33 pm

      So, what you’re saying is that you have no idea if Sandberg is the right guy for the job?

      I agree he’s put in his time, and probably deserves a chance somewhere, but I think the only way to know what he brings to the table is to have very closely followed his managerial style in LHV, which I don’t think many people here have done?

  12. badlukk13

    October 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    “People like Harry Caray and Don Zimmer used to compare me, they used to compare me to Jackie Robinson. Can you think of a better tribute than that? But Harry, who was a huge supporter of mine, used to say how nice it is that a guy who can hit 40 homers or steal 50 bases drive in a hundred runs is the best bunter on the team. Nice? That was my job. When did it become okay for someone to hit home runs and forget how to play the rest of the game?

    When we went home every winter, they warned us not lift heavy weights because they didn’t want us to lose flexibility. They wanted us to be baseball players, not only home run hitters. I played high school football at 185 pounds and played big league baseball at 182. I’d get up to maybe 188 in the off season because every summer I’d lose eight to ten pounds. In my day, if a guy came to spring training 20 pounds heavier than what he left, he was considered out of shape and was probably in trouble. He’d be under a microscope and the first time he couldn’t beat out a base hit or missed a fly ball, he was probably shipped out. These guys sitting up here did not pave the way for the rest of us so that players could swing for the fences every time up and forget how to move a runner over to third, it’s disrespectful to them, to you, and to the game of baseball that we all played growing up. Respect.

    A lot of people say this honor validates my career, but I didn’t work hard for validation. I didn’t play the game right because I saw a reward at the end of the tunnel. I played it right because that’s what you’re supposed to do, play it right and with respect.

    If this validates anything, it’s that learning how to bunt and hit and run and turning two is more important than knowing where to find the little red light at the dug out camera.” ~ Ryne Sanberg’s HOF induction speech

    That’s all I’d ever need to know about the man to know he’d be a great manager: that he’d say something like that while being inducted into the HOF.

    • Eric Seidman

      October 4, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      I appreciate the sentiment, and I’m not going to respond snarkily at all. I just simply don’t see how that HOF induction speech informs us about anything with respect to his managerial tendencies. He seems like a great guy, and he has put in his time. It’ll be cool to see him as manager, for sure, but my point in this post is that we’re all focusing on the aura aspect of Sandberg instead of comparing how he views/handles certain situations to Manuel.

      • EricL

        October 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm

        For me it’s almost a little concerning. I don’t really want a guy who values bunting and RBIs to the extent it makes his HoF speech managing the team. Maybe they’re just in there to make a point, but it certainly doesn’t make me feel any better about his potential elevation to manager.

      • badlukk13

        October 4, 2012 at 8:32 pm

        That speech sheds light on the fact that Sandberg sees the game from a strategic viewpoint that Charlie Manuel never has. It says that 3-0 green lights with the game in the line are not his managerial style. It says that understands the value of the long ball, but isn’t likely to rely on it when playing “small ball” can be equally as effective — if not more effective.

        I hate Manuel as a manager. I respect what he’s managed to accomplish here, but his inefficiencies are never more glaring than when this team isn’t smacking homeruns for wins. Sandberg’s willingness to make that type of statement in his HOF speech — a time that most players spend gushing about their time in the Bigs, and the guys who helped them get there — tells me that he’s got the sack to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and regardless of who’s saying otherwise. We need a strategic manager, and Ryne is likely to be just that… Manuel NEVER has.

        As for the second comment: I’m not getting into some sabermetric argument about the value of RBIs, but if you think that bunting holds no strategic value then I’m going to assume that you’ve never witnessed the Wunderkind that is Michael Martinez taking hacks at a ball, or the double-play machine that was Wilson Valdez.

        This team needs a strategic manager that will still help foster a solid clubhouse atmosphere while simultaneously not taking the player’s shit and ego-pageantry. Ryne seems like just that kind of guy.

      • Eric Seidman

        October 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm

        Badlukk — we basically agree on what the Phillies need. I think the only discussion here is how the Phils go about achieving that, and what constitutes solid strategy. It’s not as black and white as bunt or don’t bunt, or swing 3-0 or don’t swing 3-0. I really hope Ryne is that guy, because it sure seems like he IS the guy the Phillies want.

  13. mb74

    October 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Eric, I think you’re a bit harsh on Charlie Manuel in this piece. Let’s be honest – the failures of this year’s team had everything to do with the players on the field and not the manager. Injuries decimated the middle of their line-up and they have yet to find an adequate replacement for Jayson Werth to solidify the line-up. Additionally, the bullpen really let the team down in June when they went into their nosedive. I don’t think that can be laid at the door of Charlie Manuel. What you didn’t say in your article that is worth mentioning is that Manuel has a great intuitive feel for the players on the team and the team as a whole. He’s very skilled at managing players and that particular form of intelligence is not to be overlooked. Some of his in-game moves definitely leave us scratching our heads, but I think that’s probably true of just about every manager. Are there better managers? Yes no doubt. But he’s a very good one. Regarding Sandberg, I’m curious why the Cubs and other teams have passed on him. That would be a useful piece of information to have.

    • Eric Seidman

      October 4, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      I’m not going to discuss Manuel anymore. He’s bad enough strategically to the point that, in my view, it outweighs his strengths with managing personalities. And in no way am I suggesting that this season in his fault. I’m honestly flabbergasted people are taking that away from this post to the point that I want to edit it so further misinterpretations don’t occur. I’m saying that Manuel’s strategic philosophy has been lacking throughout his entire time here, but this was the first year teamwide talent couldn’t overcome that. That’s all. He made the same mistakes he always did this year, the Phils just weren’t good enough to overcome them. But the 81-81 record isn’t entirely, or even mostly, his fault.

      Your last tidbit is extremely interesting though. What is it that made the Cubs pass on him? Is it that Theo Epstein didn’t want to have to deal with potentially firing a Cubs legend?

      • Cape_Fear

        October 4, 2012 at 9:24 pm

        Part of the reason the Cubs passed on him last year when Theo brought in Sveum was that Sandberg was still tied to closely to the previous regime of Jim Hendry.

        I think after 2010 Hendry realized how bad the Cubs were going to be and didn’t want to put Sandberg in the position of a) struggling with horrible talent and b) then having to pull the plug on him.

    • Ryne Duren

      October 6, 2012 at 10:21 am

      mb74 every team has injuries the nats lost a few players too! they won 90+ games and they shut their ace down! the cards lost puhols to FA and berkman also! they were the 3-4 hitters and they lost their ss. they are in the playoffs. so we all keep talking about our decimated line up . i agree that hurt , but charlie at the beginning of the year was trying to show us the new small ball to the extreme and did so many bonehead things with the handling of the pen and the lineup, and moving players all over! the team never had a chance when the manager is in a panic mode from day one cause his two big guys were out! as much as i bitched all year about rollins? i’m starting to wonder if charlies managing and panic had anything to do with rollins performance!

  14. jodimark

    October 4, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I like what I am reading about these changes, and the people filling the positions. Let’s look ahead. Suppose the Phillies are doing just that, and having Sandberg get some first hand experience at the big league level. At the same time the Phillies may be evaluating how the team is doing, and If it is playing up to expectations. Should they decide a change of manager is necessary, Sandberg is right there and ready to take over.
    Although I would be just as happy if Sandberg were installed as Manager right now, the changes made offer the opportunity to make a management change mid season, and would not be with a totally new person in as Manager. Good move Phillies.

  15. badlukk13

    October 4, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Eric — True: it’s not as black and white as that, but it’s as close as we’re going to get. We can’t really know what Ryno would’ve done in any specific situation until we’ve actually seen his decisions in those specific situations, but the same is said for most other managers. We also can’t look to his Lehigh decisions considering those had developmental implications. So, seeing as strategic minded managers aren’t just hanging out next to Home Depot waiting for GMs in pickup trucks to swing by and give them jobs, I’d have to say that a HOF player who played the game strategically, then — as you correctly pointed out — chose to earn his way to a managers position instead of just expecting one, is as good, if not better, a choice as any.

    If Joe Madden is available to manage then I’m all for him over Ryno, but he’s not. The pool of worthwhile, established, and available managers is infinitesimally small. So, with that said, why not get excited about a guy who clearly has that potential and is already within the franchise’s system?

    • Eric Seidman

      October 5, 2012 at 6:34 am

      Nobody’s saying not to get excited. I’m merely pointing out that we, as fans, SHOULD be wondering about his strategic intellect. That it’s strange to simply accept an heir apparent instead of conducting an actual managerial search. That’s all. I’m not against Sandberg, but I’m also not afraid to simply say “I don’t know”.

  16. Ryne Duren

    October 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

    mini mart should be the new manager! if anybody knows about strategy and moves it’s him! he’s been in every strategic move posible off the bench, he’s been here for what 2 yrs? ( seems like forever) when he want to make a move or when he makes out a line up card he can just say to himself . i wouldn’t put me there! no way i’m pinch hitting in that situation, no way i’m bunting there. why am i here anyway? he would be the best choice cause he can answer all those questions! that’s already an improvement. and he wouldn’t have to play ! win win! unless they make him player/manager! oh god.

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