Ryne Sandberg Resigns as Phillies Manager
Ryne Sandberg announced Friday that he has resigned as Phillies manager.
"I am stepping down as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies," an emotional Sandberg said at a press conference today. "It's not an easy decision."
Sandberg, with his voice cracking, his eyes filled, essentially beat the Phillies to the punch, stepping down before he was ultimately fired. With impending moves being made at the top of the organization coming, Sandberg stepped aside before he was forced out.
"With some leadership roles, it was important for me not to be in the way," Sandberg said.
"I don't think there's any doubt about that," ESPN.com senior baseball writer Jayson Stark told me on the Sports Bash. "He clearly knew what was ahead, he knew changes were coming and he obviously had a good inkling that he was one of the changes."
Sandberg had spent time managing in the minor leagues, starting back in 2006 as the manager of the Cubs Class-A team, the Peoria Chiefs. IN 2008 he was promoted to Double-A Tennessee and in 2009 he was leading the Cubs Triple-A franchise in Iowa, winning the Pacific Coast League manager of the year award in 2010.
The Phillies organization hired him away to lead the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for the 2011 season - Baseball American named him their minor manager of the year for 2011. In 2011 he was coaching third base for the Phillies and by the end of 2013 he was the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.
"It's shocking to see a guy work as hard as he worked to get to this point, to get this job, abruptly quit and I completely accept the notion that no one saw this coming - it was written all over the faces of Pat and Ruben that they had no idea."
Ruben Amaro Jr. and Phillies team president Pat Gillick did indicate that the move came as a surprise, Sandberg said he had been thinking of stepping down for a little while now and walked into the ballpark at 10 am, took the elevator up to the the executive offices on Friday morning to tell Gillick and Amaro about his decision.
"You don't see something like this very often," Stark explained.
"This was a shock to the entire organization," Phillies field reporter Gregg Murphy told me on the Sports Bash.
Sandberg was a hall-of-fame player with a lot of pride, he explained that he was an old school type of manager, who did have a lot of success at the minor league level. However his old school ways just didn't seem to fit with a Phillies team, in transition both on-and-off-the-field. Bout for him to make this decision in the middle of the season, things must have been worse then we even can imagine.
"It's bad," Stark said. "He talked about how the losing got to him, but I don't think it was just the losing. The losing was part of it, but the job ate him up. The team never played the way he played, they never played the way he wanted them to play, they didn't respond to his leadership style. Combine all the with the uncertainty with his future - it overwhelmed him in the end, it's a shame because he is a good man."
The Phillies were 26-48 under Sandberg this season and 119-159 under him since he was hired in 2013 to replace Charlie Manuel.
"The losing ate him up," Stark stated.
So is this the best thing for the Phillies organization moving forward, starting fresh with a new manager for the new team president?
"It's just more turmoil in a season of turmoil with a lot more to come,"Stark said. "I think they concluded that he was not the right guy and he was not going to be the manager for the long term.
Sandberg signed a three-year contract extension with a club option for 2017 back in September of 2013, that was a move made by Amaro, but will it be Amaro who will be deciding on who is the next manager of the Phillies?
"This is not going to be Ruben Amaro decision," Stark said. "This will be Andy MacPhail, or whoever Andy decides to hire to replace Ruben. This is now going to be three more months of uncertainty."
So will Ruben follow suit and beat the Phillies to the punch and step down if the writing is so clearly on the wall for his eventual demise?
"I don't expect Ruben to resign, absolutely not," said Stark. "I think it's safe to say Ruben and a lot of people on the baseball operations side are concerned on where their futures are heading, but the wheels are in motion to make changes, that is clear."
"Ryne Sandberg was going to be one of the changes, I'm sure Ruben suspects deep down in his heart that he's going to be one of the changes."
Pete Mackanin will take over on a interim basis.
(ESPN.com Sr. Baseball writer Jayson Stark on Ryne Sandberg stepping down)