A couple of weeks from now, the regular season will be over. Some teams will be getting ready to start the playoffs. Others will be looking for new managers. That’s just the way it works.
The ripple effect from all of the many possible offseason management moves could reach the Philadelphia Phillies.
When Ryne Sandberg was hired to manage Triple-A Lehigh Valley last offseason, some handicappers installed him as Charlie Manuel’s heir apparent.
Now that the onetime Phillies farmhand from Spokane – who became a Hall of Famer after being traded to the Cubs before the 1982 season – has taken an IronPigs franchise that had never spent a day above .500 to the finals of the International League playoffs, it’s fair to wonder if he still will be around when Manuel decides to call it quits.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said nobody has called to ask for permission to talk to Sandberg about a big-league opening, but noted that it’s still early in that process.
“Obviously, if there was a club that was interested in his services we certainly would applaud that and, as is our policy, we’d absolutely give him an opportunity to do that,” Amaro said. “And I hope he does get that opportunity. If not with us, then certainly with another club.”
Sandberg has paid his dues. He’s in his fifth season as a minor league manager. He has ridden the buses, as they say. He has taken his team to the playoffs three times.
You’d have to think he’d be a pretty hot name right now, although each situation is different. Some teams want a stern disciplinarian, others will seek a player’s manager. Some prefer previous big-league experience, others are looking for a fresh face with no baggage.
The twist here is that it’s not out of the question that Sandberg could end up with the Cubs, the organization he left when he was passed over in favor of Mike Quade a year ago.
It’s hard to figure out exactly what’s going on around Wrigley Field these days. Fired general manager Jim Hendry’s replacement hasn’t been hired. And to court Sandberg now would be a tacit admission that they screwed up by not hiring him at the end of last season.
Still, it’s a fascinating possibility. And he is wearing a Cubs cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, after all. The Phillies put Sandberg in a position to succeed when they traded him to Chicago. It would be somehow fitting, then, if hiring him at Lehigh Valley this season ended up helping him get back to the majors as a manager somewhere else.
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