A Restless Ryno
He uttered the word “anxious” a few times this afternoon at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where Major League Baseball is holding its Winter Meetings. He is entering his second full season as Phillies manager and the team is in the beginning stages of a massive rebuild.
He is waiting like everybody else to see who exactly will be in the Phillies’ clubhouse in Spring Training.
“The goal of the organization is to get younger,” Sandberg said. “That is what this winter is all about.”
But there is another reason to be anxious. Managers are frequent casualties in rebuilds. Sandberg is signed through 2016 with a club option for 2017, but Phillies interim president Pat Gillick said the Phillies are unlikely to contend until 2017 at the earliest.
“Well, you know, he said probably might not contend,” Sandberg said.
But is he concerned he will be allowed to see the rebuild to completion?
“Well, I’d say after last year that this is the necessary thing to do is to get young and get more athletic,” he said, evading the question. “I think that helps in defense. That helps in scoring runs. It also starts to form a new core group. So with that being necessary and being a part of that, I’m excited about that possibility of seeing that started.”
But so far this offseason the Phillies have been quiet. Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday he is optimistic the team will make significant changes to its roster. FOXSports.com reported the Phillies and Orioles met today to discuss Phillies right fielder Marlon Byrd, who is one of a handful of veterans the organization would like to trade.
Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette denied interest in Braves outfielder Justin Upton yesterday, when speculation surfaced about him. Asked separately about Byrd today, Duquette did not deny interest, saying they have discussed trades with multiple teams.
One source confirmed the Phillies and Orioles discussed Byrd, but said Byrd might not be on Baltimore’s front burner.
Still, Sandberg said he expects changes to come.
“I’d be a little bit surprised,” he said, asked if he would be disappointed to open Spring Training with the same roster that finished last in the National League East. “I’m just basing that on a lot of the conversations that Ruben is having with clubs about our players.”
If some of those available veterans return Sandberg might have to reduce their playing time for younger players, which could be an issue. Sources said last season that players were frustrated at times with how Sandberg communicated with them.
Sandberg also could face difficulties with veterans that return in their current roles, but are unhappy about being part of a rebuilding process.
“I think that’s all a challenge in a process like this and the possibilities,” Sandberg said. “I think you look at each individual and make a judgment there on who would be on board and who would be good influences on young players. I think there is a lot to be said about that and the strategy there.”
Sandberg, like everybody else, is waiting to see the Phillies’ offseason strategy unfold with actual roster moves. He is looking forward to getting back to work.
“I’d say overall I learned a lot and I experienced a lot,” he said about his first full season. “There were a lot of situations that came up that I experienced, and I think all in all, we stayed together as a group and the guys came to the ballpark every day, got their work in, and they played hard between the white lines. So you live and learn, and I learned a lot. There would be adjustments that I’d make going forward in the things that I’ve learned.”