In case you’re wondering what Ryne Sandberg is up to, he’s managing the Leigh Valley Iron Pigs. They are the AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies and they are currently in first place with a 37-22 record.
Sandberg, as we all are well aware, was a finalist for the Cubs open managerial position last offseason. And while Sandberg was disappointed that he didn’t get the job, he didn’t leave on bad terms. According to Sandberg when Tom Ricketts broke the bad news, he said, “I told him I’m disappointed and that I appreciated the process and being involved. That was the end of the conversation.”
Not cheery, but he didn’t burn the place down either.
Before losing out, Sandberg often talked about how managing the Cubs would be his dream job and that he’d love to be the one to take them to the World Series. It’s doubtful that has really changed.
I have to admit that I had some doubts about Sandberg. As a player he was soft-spoken and I wondered if he could command the respect of his ballplayers. After a slow start to his managerial career that featured seemingly as many ejections as big wins, Sandberg has clearly shown he can lead a team. Like a prospect, he has gotten better at each level. He has produced winners in each of the last two seasons, with Iowa last season and Leigh Valley this year.
Sandberg also has an advantage in that he already is familiar with many of the Cubs minor league prospects — the ones who are certain to make up a good portion of the team over the next couple of seasons. That would limit the disruption of changing managers and keep some continuity.
Lastly, Ryno would re-invigorate a fan base that is beginning to lose interest. The team lacks fire, and while Sandberg didn’t overtly provide that as a ballplayer, he has done so as a manager. But it isn’t just pandering to the fans, Sandberg has proven himself as a solid manager who understands the history of the franchise as well as it’s future.