It’s been one year and two days since Ryne Sandberg was hired to replace Charlie Manuel as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, and in that time, Manuel was enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame.
There are no plans for Sandberg to occupy the place next to Manuel as the year has been an unmitigated disaster, yet there are signs that they should keep him around, particularly if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. becomes the fall guy for the recent failures of the club — notwithstanding Monday night’s 4-1 win over the visiting Seattle Mariners.
Here’s why: No reasonable person can assume that Sandberg likes rolling out a lineup of underachieving veterans when he really needs to take a look at the next layer of youth. The only possible explanation is that Sandberg is being told to play guys like Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard.
How else would one be able to explain Sandberg’s three-game benching of Howard, which was followed by a strong endorsement of the first baseman by Amaro and subsequent reinsertion of the financial albatross into the lineup by Sandberg? What other explanation is there for Sandberg’s statement that the plan was to platoon Darin Ruf and Howard at first, followed by the abandonment of that plan?
The only possible explanation is that Sandberg is being told who to play and who not to play, and that cannot be a good development for the long-term future of the club. If Sandberg is being told who to play, then it’s unreasonable to judge him based on the results.
If new management comes in and Amaro goes, and Sandberg still plays the old guys, then he needs to go, too — but not before.