Ryne Sandberg enters the 2014 season with very big shoes to fill in taking on his first full season as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Sandberg took over the Phillies last August by replacing Charlie Manuel — arguably the best manager in franchise history. Ruben Amaro Jr. fired Manuel shortly after he collected his 1,000th career win as a manager and fans were upset to see him go. He left the club as the franchise leader in wins (780), postseason appearances (5), postseason wins (27) and most wins in a single season (2011- 102 wins) as a manager.
As you may or may not know, Sandberg is a Hall of Fame second baseman who was drafted by the Phillies in the 20th round of the 1978 amateur draft but played in only 13 games with the team before being traded to the Chicago Cubs in January 1982. Sandberg won nine straight Gold Gloves with the Cubs from 1983-1991, was league MVP during the 1984 season, hit for power and led the NL with 40 home runs in 1990.
Sandberg began his coaching career in 2007 with the Cubs organization as the manager of the Peoria Chiefs, their Single A affiliate. Sandberg continued to excel as a manager and worked his way to their Double A team and then to the Cubs’ Triple A affiliate in only four years of experience. The Phillies then signed Sandberg as manager of their Triple A squad the Lehigh Valley IronPigs where he coached for two seasons. During his six seasons as a minor league manager, Sandberg had a winning season five times and compiled an overall record of 439-409. In 2013 Sandberg was named Phillies third base coach and then interim head coach when Manuel was fired; the Phillies later named him as their permanent manager.
Although it will be nearly impossible to fill Manuel’s shoes, Sandberg deserves a chance to make a name of his own. Sandberg is known as a players coach who doesn’t talk a whole lot, but when he does players should make sure they listen. He was a very successful player offensively and defensively and knows what he’s talking about. As a Hall of Fame player, he should have no problem gaining the respect of rookies and veterans alike. Sandberg demands maximum effort out of his players and is a coach players like going to battle for.
Sandberg announced he will bring Roy Halladay in for two weeks during spring training to work with the pitchers. Halladay was an extremely successful pitcher because of his work ethic, mentality and execution, and Sandberg expects Halladay to work with each player individually on these areas. This doesn’t mean Kyle Kendrick will have world class pitches and command, but it could give him a better mentality and work ethic that is needed to improve every day over the long 162-game season.
Sandberg will implement different philosophies and ideas than Manuel which could lead to positive change in the Phillies clubhouse and success on the field. There is no denying the clubhouse was stagnant over the past two seasons and change was needed. Although Manuel did not seem to be the problem, Sandberg may be a short term answer to the Phillies’ problems. Amaro is committed to making his cumbersome contracts of aged, battered players successful, and Sandberg will give the Phillies a chance to do just that.