Tag Archive | "Ryne Sandberg"

Sandberg finally gets the call

Over the weekend the Philadelphia Phillies parted ways with long time manager Charlie Manuel. Longtime Chicago Cub fan favorite Ryne Sandberg was named as the interim manager of the Fighting Phils. After years in the minors, as well as third base coach for the Phillies, Sandberg will finally get his chance to audition for a managerial chair in the big leagues.


Ryno was originally drafted by the Phillies and later traded to the Cubs where he made a name for himself and built a Hall of Fame resume. Sandberg became a perennial All-Star, Gold Glove winner, and MVP for the Chicago Cubs. He is arguably the best second baseman in history at his position, and in 2005 was inducted into the Hall of Fame with one of the best speeches in recent memory.

After his playing career, Sandberg ventured into the managerial ranks and became the manager of the Cubs Class-A Peoria Chiefs in 2006. Around Chicago, it was a not so secret rumor that Ryne was grooming himself to one day lead the Cubs at the corner of Clark and Addison.

In his first season as manager, he took the Chiefs to the Midwest League Championship Game. After two seasons, he was promoted to Class Double-A Tennessee and the following year was promoted again to Class Triple-A Iowa. In 2010, he was named Manager of the Year in the Pacific Coast League and in turn making the rumor mill grow louder on the North Side.

Following the 2010 season, Sandberg was a strong candidate to replace Lou Piniella as Cubs manager. It was viewed as Ryno’s job to lose and it would create a perfect storm for fans to have a manger they would adore and love, even if the team’s record was subpar. Eventually the job was given to Mike Quade, a not so popular choice.

After the decision, Sandberg headed back to the minors to manage another season, only this time it was for the Phillies top affiliate. Once again, Sandberg turned out another winner, leading the squad to their first ever playoff appearance, the International League Championship series, and being named 2011 Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America.

During the 2011 off-season, the Cubs again had another vacancy at the manager position. Sandberg’s name resurfaced again but not quite with the same buzz. The job was eventually given to current skipper Dale Sveum. Sandberg stayed in the Phillies organization and was named third base coach for the big league team.

Ryne held that position until this weekend where he now was named interim manager of the club. However, he did receive a not so good welcome has his first games were against the hottest team in the league, the LA Dodgers and ace pitchers Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. It took the Phillies three games before they could score a run for their new manager.

It will be interesting to see how Sandberg fairs for the remainder of the season and what his fate will be during the off-season. Will he be granted the full time role by the Phillies, or will another team try to snag him away? One thing is for certain, Sandberg has the pedigree, and he has developed a style that wins. His resume boasts that greatly.

As for Chicago Cub purists, how do they feel? The general consensus is that Sandberg fans are happy that Ryno finally got his shot, although it is not wearing Cubbie blue. Sandberg #23 jerseys and t-shirts are still widely popular at the friendly confines. Sandberg’s jersey is retired by the Cubs and if you are curious to see what a true reaction will be of Cub fans, the Phillies come into town for a weekend series August 30-September 1.

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A Historic Day

You may have seen Sunday’s St Louis Cardinals victory over the Houston Astros, and Tyler Greene’s 2-HR day.  Was it historic?  You betcha.

Greene became the first Cardinal second baseman since 1918* to start a game and hit 2 home runs, drive in 4, score 3 times, and steal a base.  Considering the great players who have manned second base throughout the years – Rogers Hornsby, Red Schoendienst, Ted Sizemore – that is amazing.

It gets better.  Only three other Cardinals have ever had a final box score line like that.

  1. Jim Edmonds pulled it off during a Fourth of July destruction of the Cincinnati Reds.  Fireworks during and after the game that day.  I think the fans went home happy.
  2. Stan Musial watched Wally Moon turn the trick in a June 1956 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Moon’s line that day was virtually identical to Greene’s, except Moon had one more PA (he walked).  Musial also homered.  Personally I like it when I can connect Musial to anything going on with the team today.
  3. Twenty years before that, Don Gutteridge was the first Cardinal with the line.  Gutteridge actually scored 4 runs and knocked in 5 during the first game of a double header that day.  For what it’s worth, he doubled and struck out 3 times in the nightcap.

I half expected all three men would hit high in the order, and indeed Edmonds hit third and Moon fifth.  But Gutteridge hit seventh during his game, and Greene eighth Sunday; more proof that on any given day you can see anything at a baseball game from any given spot in the order.

One more factoid of interest.  There have only been four other second baseman with a day like Tyler Greene’s:  Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg, Juan Samuel, and Orlando Hudson.  That’s not bad company, is it?

*Baseball Reference’s play index only goes back to 1918, so although we could argue ‘first ever’ it is prudent to put the date, just in case. Search was done for games where the starting second basemen had two or more HR, 4 or more RBI, scored 3 or more runs, and stole 1 or more bases.

Mike Metzger is a freelance writer based in San Diego.  He blogs about the Padres.  You can follow him on Twitter @metzgermg.

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The Winner Is: Mike Matheny?

In just a few short hours, the Cardinals will convene a press conference to announce the 33rd manager in the history of the franchise.

The keys to the family sports car are about to be handed to the sixteen year old.

There were six managerial candidates that were interviewed for the vacant spot atop the St. Louis Cardinals team on the field. Only one, Terry Francona, had major league management experience. Two, Ryne Sandberg and Chris Maloney, were highly regarded managers at the Triple A level. Two, Jose Oquendo and Joe McEwing, are former Cardinals and major league coaches that have gained a lot of respect (even if players don’t listen to “stop” signs). The final one is a former Cardinal catcher, a roaming instructor in the Cardinals system, and has no coaching or managerial experience.

Yep, that’s the one everyone would pick.

By no means am I saying that I do not support this move. Mike Matheny is a class act, a baseball mind, a good guy, and was definitively in charge of a field when it stood behind the plate. He is a player that is ingrained in the traditions of Cardinal nation. He obviously interviewed very well and said everything that the Cardinals’ upper management needed to hear. But it is a certain gamble for one of baseball’s most historic and traditional franchises to go with an inexperienced manager at the helm.

There are a ton of questions that will not be answered until 2012 and some that will be answered soon. We will not know until the season progresses how Matheny manages. We will not know if he will prefer a veteran arm to a young rookie. We will not know if players like Daniel Descalso and Nick Punto are the types of guys we will see a lot of or if he tends to run the same lineup out there 140 games a year. The biggest question on the mind of some is simple: Will the pitcher ever hit eighth again?

Some questions are about to be answered soon. One of the most important will be the appointment of the bench coach. With a manager with little experience, you would think the Cardinals will put a strong bench coach next to him to help alleviate some of the concern. The rest of the coaching staff will start to fall into place, the Pujols negotiations will heat up, and the Cardinals will delve into free agency and trades to solidify the few shortcomings they have entering the new season. Some of these moves will make it evident what type of team Matheny will prefer.

One thing is for certain. As of eleven o’clock central time this morning, all eyes are now on number 22.

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Following the parade through the streets of downtown St. Louis, and subsequent celebratory ceremony inside Busch Stadium on Sunday afternoon, long-time Cardinals manager, Tony LaRussa called a meeting. It would be his last. He told the players, coaches, and the small intimate group in attendance that he’d decided to retire, and would not be returning for another season. Nearly everyone was shocked, many were emotional, and only those who were there know exactly what it was like in that moment. David Freese recounted in a radio interview on Thursday, “I’m glad I was sitting down when he told us.”.

Tony LaRussa announces his retirement after 33 years of managing in MLB. Bill DeWitt Jr, Tony LaRussa, John Mozeliak (L to R)

Less than a week later, the organization has already begun conducting interviews for LaRussa’s replacement. The list that’s apparently floating around out there, though it doesn’t appear the club has confirmed it, includes the following handful of candidates:

And right on cue, Cardinals fans are pissing a moaning about the lackluster “short list”.

“Where’s Joe Maddon??”
“They have to give it to Oquendo!”
“Francona is the only guy with any Major League experience!”
“Why isn’t Don Mattingly on the list?”
“Can’t hire Sandberg–he was a CUB!”
“They can’t give it to Oquendo!”

…and plenty of other nonsensical outcries.

Listen, poll Cardinal Nation a week ago, and ask “With whom should the Cardinals replace Tony LaRussa?”, and EVERYBODY on the aforementioned list is suddenly over-qualified. People are writing in “Helen Keller”, “My dead grandma”, “My dog, Rolen”, and “lamp shade” as quickly as they can. It’s the battle cry we’ve heard from half of Cardinal Nation for the last decade and a half: “A.B.L.”, baby, Anybody But LaRussa.

Yet, now that it’s a situation that the Cardinals are actually in, it’s being taken to the next level. Now, anyone who has ever worn the birds on the bat is suddenly deserving and qualified to manage the 2012 team. Milt Thompson? Bingo! Rex Hudler? Bring him in! Keith Hernandez? Perfect man for the job. Todd Zeile? Slap a “12” on his back, and call him skipper! I cannot, for the life of me, understand the logic behind these arguments…and spare me the “they understand the Cardinal way” stuff. A year ago, Marty Mason would’ve been “perfect” in a lot of these same folks’ minds.

I suppose it’s simply the emotion-driven sentiment that comes along with most fan bases. When you’re talking sheer numbers, and almost as many different personality types, logic & sound reasoning often elude the masses. I wrote about that earlier, but I’m no less irritated by it today than I was then.

But, now we’ve gone and taken it to a whole new level. We, as a general fan base, are demanding…DE-MAND-ING that Joe Maddon bring himself, and those highlights we’ve not seen since the Edmonds days, down to 700 Clark Street, and meet with Mo. And I mean yesterday! Repeat after me: Joe…Maddon…

(no, seriously, go ahead and say it aloud)

Joe. Maddon. Is. Under. Contract.

If the right thing to do is pursue a manager who is already under contract with another team, then why don’t the Cardinals just skip all the messing around, and just go get Mike Scioscia? He’s under contract until 2018, sure…but that’s irrelevant, because the Cardinals fans want him in St. Louis, right? Look, I’d be just as happy as the next guy to have Maddon or Scioscia in the home dugout calling the shots at Busch next summer and beyond. But for me, that wish is on the same list that has all that stuff about Jessica Alba, and for those of you familiar with the phrase, I’ll bet my other hand fills up first.

Maybe the good folks in the front office at Tropicana Field are still a little sore about the way the whole rumored ‘Colby Rasmus & others for Jeff Niemann & others’ deal that, at least according to some accounts, John Mozeliak pulled the rug out from under Andrew Friedman at the last minute. “If Mozeliak from St. Louis calls, don’t answer.” may be the standing order to the staff down in St. Pete. That kind of stuff happens, folks. There are an awful lot of egos out there, and many of them are quite sizable. Relationships between the Cardinals and Padres have been favorable in recent years, it’s reasonable to assume that other relationships aren’t as good, and some might be downright bad. It would be most unfortunate if the relationship between the Cardinals and the Rays were bad, though, for a number of reasons–not the least of which is that in some ways, the Rays are the new Expos.

I don’t know who the next manager of the St. Louis Cardinals will be. Interviews began on Thursday, when two candidates met with members of the Cardinals brass. Francona is expected to interview Friday, while interview times for Delino DeShields and the great Casey Stengel have not yet to be determined. Mozeliak has given a tentative timetable of the next few weeks to get a deal done–presumably some time before Thanksgiving is a general target. Either way though, rushing a decision is obviously a mistake, but promptness needs to be balanced with being thorough and confident in their selection.

After all, there’s other important business to tend to.

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