When GM Ruben Amaro Jr. of the Philadelphia Phillies stepped up to the microphone in Spring Training and said manager Ryne Sandberg‘s “no comment” was something he should not have said, a seed of doubt was planted — not over what Sandberg said, but in the relationship between GM and manager.
Sandberg was talking about the positive influence, energy and enthusiasm backup shortstop Freddy Galvis brought to the clubhouse on an everyday basis. When a reporter asked if starter Jimmy Rollins brought those same traits, Sandberg paused and said, “No comment.”
The no comment might have said more about Amaro than Rollins, however. Amaro is committed to giving aging veterans like Rollins with a declining skill set one more chance to revitalize the team, while Sandberg, who managed many of the young Phillies in waiting to replace people like Rollins, probably wants some new blood in there.
Coincidentally or not, that young blood would also bring an infusion of positive influence, energy and enthusiasm both to the clubhouse and to the field. That begs the question: Can the two continue to coexist as GM and manager? The answer is probably not. In Philadelphia, the blame so far for this 8-10 season rests on Amaro, not Sandberg.
Among the fans, Amaro is seen as the guy who gave bloated contracts to guys like Rollins and first baseman Ryan Howard, handcuffing the team’s ability to get better by signing younger and more productive free agents. If things continue to go south, the blame will fall on Amaro, not Sandberg, and the manager will be free to give out “no comments” once again.