After tonights beat down from the Baltimore Orioles, the Phillies losing streak is now at a season high 8 games. They have been swept all 8 games on the road trip before returning home to Citizens Bank Park with a 22-44 record on the year. The product that is put out on the field every night is obviously not a team that will compete for a playoff spot anytime soon. A big question that is left unanswered is: does manager Ryne Sandberg deserve a pass for the Phillies poor performance?
August 16th 2013, The Philadelphia Phillies announced they have officially fired Charlie Manuel, the manager that brought this city their first championship since 1980. Ryne Sandberg, an ex Phillies player and third base coach was made interim manager and eventually permanent manager on September 22, 2013. Sandberg inherited a team with a high payroll of aging veterans who haven’t been to the post season since 2011, where they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS 3-2. In Sandberg’s first full year as the Phillies skipper in 2014, they finished with a 73-89 record. As a result, they ended up in last place in the NL East standings for the first time since 2000.
The Phillies seem to be losing more than just baseball games recently as some of the players are starting to lose their cool out on the diamond. In a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates last week, manager Ryne Sandberg and reliever Ken Giles got into a dispute in the dugout after Giles didn’t want to listen to either Sandberg or pitching coach Bob McClure. Later on in the week in a game against the Baltimore Orioles, the team’s hottest hitter Maikel Franco earned his first big league ejection. Franco was arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Eric Cooper all night, until eventually in the 7th inning, Cooper threw out Franco in a heated dispute.
Not all of the blame however, should be credited to the manager of the club. The majority of the blame especially according to the fan base, is directly pointed at current general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Mainly because after taking over a team that had just won the World Series; Ruben managed to run a championship caliber team straight into the ground. Each season progressively worse until eventually hitting rock bottom when Amaro publicly admitted to holding onto the core veteran players too long. Amaro never wanted to admit defeat and acknowledge that this team needed to rebuild. During this past offseason however, it seems that he finally understood that they needed to reload with younger talent. Even though RAJ has gotten more blame than credit with his tenure as GM, I do believe that he received great value with the Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd trades. Hopefully ownership wakes up and finally realizes that RAJ is not the answer as the Phillies general manager, and that a new voice and a new direction within the organization is needed.
Since taking over the club, Sandberg has seen his fair share of adversity. Sandberg can only work with the hand that was dealt to him, and to be honest it’s no royal flush. Unfortunately, he inherited a historically bad offense and a starting rotation that is filled with inning eaters just to get through a 162 game season. It seems like Ryno needs to find a way to take control of the clubhouse and prove to ownership that he has what it take to continue being the Phillies skipper. It’s certainly hard to manage a big league club and it seems like it’s even harder when you’re working with minor league talent. If things don’t change soon though, the Phillies could be on the hunt to hire their 53rd manager in team history.