A couple hours before their final home game of a forgettable 2013 season, the Phillies took the long-awaited step of naming heretofore interim manager Ryne Sandberg their skipper for 2014 and beyond, signing the Hall of Fame second baseman to a three year contract with a team option for 2017. Since taking over for Charlie Manuel on Aug. 16, Sandberg has led the Phils to 18 wins in 35 games, emphasizing player commitment and fundamentals through an endless array of different lineups. Sandberg and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will decide upon a 2014 coaching staff next month as the first order of offseason business.
It's hard to take issue with this decision. While we at TGP and many others have sniffed at Sandberg's anodyne public statements and evident embrace of old-timey baseball thought, through his first six or so weeks on the job he seems to have pulled off the neat trick of being a disciplinarian without coming off to the players as a needlessly alienating, Bowa-esque asshole. (It's possible of course that he's leaving that role to its creator.) Clearly, Sandberg's success as a player is impressive to the vets as well as the kids, and it's likely that his recent experience as a minor league manager, including with many of the younger players now on the roster, has him better positioned to aid their development than Manuel was or would have been going forward.