Results tagged ‘ Ryne Sandberg ’
The Phillies named Pat Gillick interim president last Thursday while David Montgomery takes a leave of absence to recover from jaw bone cancer surgery. He joined the team today in Atlanta, and said he plans to follow the team through the rest of the season.
Gillick spoke with reporters this afternoon, when he offered thoughts and opinions on numerous topics. Basically, he said he will be focused on the baseball operations side of the Phillies. Senior vice president of administration and operations Mike Stiles will be in charge of the business side.
Here are a few highlights:
Q: Do you have full power on baseball operations?
A: Right now I guess that, you know, Ruben (Amaro Jr.) and I … let me put it this way, Ruben and I mutually agree on most decisions that we make. Ruben is very inclusive on any decisions that we make for the ballclub. But right now if there’s something I might have a different opinion, I’ll certainly voice that opinion and we’ll talk it through and try to make what we think is the correct decision.
Q: But you have final say?
A: I would say if it comes down to the end, I have part of the final say. At this moment, I think ownership has a part of the say, too.
Q: Are you a caretaker or someone who can come here and affect change?
A: A little bit of both. As I’ve said over and over, we want David back as soon as possible. So that point, I’m an interim care taker. But at the same time, if there are decisions that have to be made from a baseball standpoint, we’re going to make those decisions.
Q: Amaro said emphatically last Friday in New York that he is the GM and that is not going to change. He also said Ryne Sandberg is the manager and that is not going to change. Can you definitely say Ruben will be the GM and Ryne will be the manager?
A: Right. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Q: Why? Fans are incredibly frustrated right now with the GM position.
A: Well, let me say this, one of the more difficult thing to do in professional aports, and not only baseball but all sports, is to be patient. It’s very difficult. It’s very difficult for the fans to be patient. It’s difficult for the media to be patient. It’s difficult for ownership to be patient. But sometimes when you get challenges, and the challenges are we haven’t played well in the last two, three years. These are basically the same people that made the decisions when we won five division championships from 2007 through 2011. These are the same people making the decisions. So, all of a sudden, Ryne wasn’t here, but Ruben was here. All of a sudden he didn’t get dumb overnight. It’s just right now, we’re in a situation where we know where we’re headed and it’s going to take some time to get us where we want to go.
Pat Gillick is in charge while Phillies president David Montgomery takes a leave of absence to recover from jaw bone cancer surgery, but that does not mean changes are coming to the organization. In fact, Amaro said, it will be business as usual.
“Pat Gillick will be in (Montgomery’s) stead on an interim basis,” Amaro said he told players at Citi Field. “I’m the GM. That’s not going to change. Ryno’s the manager. That’s not going to change. And we’ll go about our business status quo. I’ll report to Pat. Ryne (Sandberg) will report to me. And this is merely on an interim basis.”
Amaro was very emphatic that his role as general manager and Sandberg’s role as manager are not going to change. But there is reason for that. Sources said Gillick has spoken to multiple people on the baseball operations staff since he assumed his new role and assured them they can go about their business without fear of change.
Sandberg confirmed he spoke yesterday with Gillick.
“Everything is status quo, yes,” Sandberg said about the conversation.
So no changes to anything regarding baseball operations?
“There’s no change,” Amaro said.
Even given the fact Gillick has such an extensive baseball background? He was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010 for his immense success as a general manager. He served as the Phillies’ GM from 2005-08, building the team that won the 2008 World Series.
“There’s no change,” Amaro repeated.
Asked if he expects this to last through the season, Amaro said, “Whenever David’s back and physically able to come back he will be back and he will take his role. … We’re all concerned about David, and that’s really the priority, is David.”
Other than that, the Phillies said little.
“We’re not really at liberty to really discuss much more about it,” Amaro said.
“Just prayers and thoughts are with him for a speedy recovery,” Sandberg said. “I’m supposed to keep this at a minimum. I think it was already addressed. I was advised to keep it at a minimum.”
Cole Hamels became the latest player to express his frustrations about Sandberg, when he pulled Hamels from Tuesday’s game in the eighth inning. Hamels looked disgusted as Sandberg approached and handed him the ball as he walked off the mound. Hamels made a point after the game to sidestep questions about Sandberg.
Sandberg recently met with Domonic Brown and David Buchanan following comments they made regarding playing time. A week earlier in San Francisco, he met with Kyle Kendrick after he nearly left the mound before Sandberg could remove him from a game. Sandberg had closed-door meetings with Ryan Howard last month following his announcement he wanted to see others play more at first base, saying he could not care less about Howard’s salary because he wanted to win games. Sandberg benched Jimmy Rollins in Spring Training, but ruffled feathers when he offered a “no comment” when asked about Rollins’ energy and influence in the clubhouse.
“I just deal with it and have conversations,” Sandberg said Wednesday.
Does he feel he has a good handle on the clubhouse?
“Yes,” he said. “Yeah.”
But sources said some players are frustrated, either with how Sandberg handles the game or how he handles players. Of course, much of this has to do with losing. Problems fade on winning teams. They fester and grow on losing ones.
So is there a good or bad relationship between players and manager?
Ryne Sandberg has had his share of closed-door meetings and issues with players this season, but Ruben Amaro Jr. said today he likes the way Sandberg has handled his first full season on the job, although he acknowledged a learning curve.
“I didn’t expect Ryno to come in here and be the greatest manager of all time,” Amaro said. “This is a process. He’s learning. By and large, he’s done a good job. You’re a smart manager when teams win and you’re not so smart when you don’t have success.”
Sandberg recently met with Domonic Brown and David Buchanan following comments they made regarding playing time. A week earlier in San Francisco he met with Kyle Kendrick after he nearly left the mound before Sandberg could remove him from a game. He had closed-door meetings with Ryan Howard last month following his announcement he wanted to see others play more at first base, which he backed off a few days later. He benched Jimmy Rollins in Spring Training, but ruffled feathers when he offered a “no comment” when asked about Rollins’ energy and influence in the clubhouse.
“He’s addressing these things,” Amaro said. “That’s all I can ask of the manager. Some unfortunate comments, I think. In some case, some inappropriate comments on the player’s part. But I think that’s been handled.”
Sandberg has been criticized for some of his in-game decisions and how he handles the lineup, but a big part of a manager’s job is communicating and motivating players. Amaro said he believes Sandberg is improving in those areas.
“He was given a tough task right out of the chute,” he said. “There was an expectation for us to win. We have a lot of veterans who were, in some cases, underperforming. We had some young guys we were giving opportunities who we expected more from. It’s been challenging for him. It’s a great learning experience for him. He’s still learning and learning different ways to motivate and move the club forward. He’s addressing things. He’s learning how to handle the players on a daily basis. He’s utilizing the staff well. We still have over a month to go. I’ll know more about how he’s done. So far I’m pleased with how he’s handled things.”
Amaro touched on other topics today:
Kendrick stormed off the field and immediately into the Phillies clubhouse.
“I didn’t want to come out of the game,” Kendrick said. “I wasn’t trying to show up Ryno or nothing. I didn’t try to. That wasn’t my intention. I was just upset. I wanted to get where nobody could see me as quickly as possible.”
He also said he wasn’t upset at teammates Chase Utley and Ryan Howard for letting a routine pop up fall between them, which sparked an ugly inning in which the Phillies blew a four-run lead in a 6-5 loss.
“I didn’t handle it right,” Kendrick said. “That wasn’t very professional of me.”
Kendrick is 5-11 with a 4.90 ERA, which is the third-highest ERA out of 94 qualifying pitchers in baseball. He is a free agent after the season.
“Everything has just kind of been building up,” Kendrick said. “It’s been a tough year for us as a team and me personally. You’ve still got to keep fighting. But little stuff irritates you. … When I’m pitching I don’t really think about (free agency). When I’m out there I’m just focused on one pitch at a time. When I’m out there, no. It’s definitely not on my mind. Maybe in between starts I think about it because – shoot, I’m human. I have a family to provide for. I have two kids. So I think, where am I going to be? All that stuff.”
Asked if he thinks he will be back with the Phillies, Kendrick said, “I don’t know. I want to go where whoever wants me. That’s where I want to go. If it’s here, great. If they want me. You want to go somewhere where you’re wanted. We’ll see. I don’t know.”
Since he started three consecutive games at first base from July 23-25, Ruf has started just four of the Phillies’ next 18 games: twice at first base and twice in left field. Ruf did not start tonight against the Angels at Angel Stadium, despite going 3-for-5 with one home run, two RBIs, one walk and one hit by pitch in the past two games.
“Weaver is extremely tough on right-handed bats,” Ryne Sandberg said about Angels right-hander Jered Weaver.
Ruf and Domonic Brown seem to have fallen into a gray area. They are 28 and 26, respectively, so they are not young players anymore. But the Phillies also want to know what they have going forward, which would seem to mean more playing time for them as the team plays out the string.
Or maybe the organization already know enough about them and playing time is no longer an issue?
“I would say in some regards (we) still need to see them,” Sandberg said. “It’s more for what type of role are we talking about? If it’s a pinch-hit type of a situation, having some experience doing that. If it’s an everyday guy, putting together a full year and being able to do that. There is some uncertainty still going forward with what both of those guys can do.
“I can see what (Ruf) can do on the defensive side of things. I think he’s fine in left field. I think he’s very good at first base, but with the situations he’s been in the past couple years here and not being able to have a string of at-bats against all the pitchers, it’s hard to really get a gauge still.”
So then what would have been lost by playing Ruf against a tough right-hander like Weaver?
“That’s the tricky part of making up the lineups and also trying to win a game,” Sandberg said.
In the past couple weeks:
- Ryne Sandberg has said it is time to see what others can do at first base.
- He also said the remaining $60 million on Howard’s contract will not affect future lineups and he would consider a platoon moving forward.
- There were multiple reports the Phillies front office kick around the possibility of releasing Howard in the offseason, which Ruben Amaro Jr. denied.
- Howard upset fans when he said nobody would want to trade places with him right now, despite the fact he is in the midst of a $125 million contract.
- Howard went 1-for-25 on a recent road trip through New York and Washington.
- He hit .135 (15-for-111) with two doubles, two home runs, 13 RBIs and a .451 OPS in 30 games from June 26-August 3. It was the second-lowest OPS out of 163 qualifying players in that stretch.
- He is on pace to have arguably the least productive season of any cleanup hitter with 575 or more plate appearances in the No. 4 spot in the past 100 years.
But then Howard hit .357 (5-for-14) with one double, two home runs and eight RBIs in the three-game sweep against the Astros. It included tonight’s game-winning grand slam in the eighth inning of a 6-5 victory. It preceded a curtain call for a player fans have booed regularly this season.
“It is what it is,” Howard said about the up-and-down fan reaction this season. “I mean, its unfortunate. I’ll be honest with you, it’s unfortunate that’s what happens. But I’ll go out there and continue to play. I understand what it takes to play the game. I understand it wasn’t there early, but it only had to be there once. It was there with me and I’ll try to build off that.”
Like anything, it is just three games. The key for Howard is finishing the season strong. Can he build upon this? Or is this just a good three-game series?
Ryne Sandberg spoke assertively a couple weeks ago when he discussed Ryan Howard’s future at first base. He said he knew what Howard could do, so it is time to see what others could do. He talked about a platoon and said the remaining $60 million on Howard’s contract following this season would have no impact on his lineup because he is trying to win.
But since a couple meetings between Sandberg and Howard and since Ruben Amaro Jr. countered his manager’s comments to say he expects Howard to be his first baseman in 2015 and there are no plans to release him following the season, the narrative has changed completely. Howard has started eight of nine games at first base, including one game against a left-handed pitcher.
“We’d like to get him going for us,” Sandberg told reporters Sunday at Nationals Park. “And he’s working on some things. He could be a big bat for us.”
The Phillies face Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel tonight at Citizens Bank Park. Will we see Howard in there, hitting fourth?
Howard is tied for seventh in the National League with 63 RBIs, but there is a reason the Phillies would need to eat every dollar on his contract to trade him. His .664 OPS is 132nd out of 152 qualifying hitters in baseball. And while Howard is on pace for 91 RBIs, he has had 331 runners on base during his plate appearances this season, which ranks third in baseball. Howard’s spot in the lineup has had as much to do with his production than anything.
Howard is on pace for 594 plate appearances in the No. 4 spot. There have been 400 hitters in baseball from 1914-2013 with 575 or more plate appearances hitting cleanup and 322 (80.5 percent) had at least 90 RBIs. In other words, hit fourth regularly and the RBIs will come. But one wonders how much longer the Phillies will hit Howard fourth? His .302 on-base percentage as a four-hole hitter would be fifth-lowest out of those 400 hitters. His .363 slugging percentage would be second-lowest.
His .664 OPS? It would be dead last, 14 points lower than Washington’s Chick Gandil in 1914.
If Howard is the Phillies’ first baseman in 2015, will they continue to hit him fourth? The Phillies need to make changes. If they can’t significantly alter the roster, they can at least shake up the lineup.
Sandberg drove home that point soundly today, as he benched Howard in favor of Darin Ruf for a second consecutive game, but this time against Giants right-hander Tim Hudson. That is noteworthy because Howard has faced Hudson more than any other pitcher in his career, hitting .328 (22-for-67) with seven home runs, 17 RBIs and a 1.112 OPS against him.
“The way I see things,” Sandberg said before their 2-1 victory over the Giants, “I basically wanted to give Ruf two days in a row, just to get his feet wet, see him against a right-handed pitcher, then go from there. But in all likelihood, at least after today, it will be a scenario of … I’d be considering a platoon system at first base.”
The p-word has been uttered: platoon.
Sandberg and Howard held a closed-door meeting in the manager’s office for at least 10-15 minutes about three hours before the game. Howard was unavailable to comment afterward. He made a bee line to the back of the Phillies’ clubhouse upon leaving Sandberg’s office. He returned to his locker to grab his cell phone before going outside the clubhouse to make a call. The clubhouse closed almost immediately after he returned.
Howard had no interest in commenting about his situation after the game.
“Talk to him,” he said after the game, referring to Sandberg. “Bye. Talk to the manager.”
Asked if Howard was receptive to his talk, Sandberg said, “He wants to play and he wants to be in the lineup and that’s totally understandable. So as we go forward and there are some options on some days, then I’ll look at those options.”
It does not take a genius to see the 2006 National League Most Valuable Player is not happy.
If Sandberg follows through and platoons Howard and Ruf it would make Howard, who signed a $125 million contract in April 2010, a part-time player with $60 million owed to him after this season. What that means for Howard’s future remains to be seen. Sources said the Phillies have kicked around multiple scenarios regarding Howard’s future, including the possibility of releasing him in the offseason.
It would seem to be an awkward situation for Ruf, who is trying to prove himself as a regular big-league player. But he said he will not let the spotlight bother him as he is asked to take an iconic player’s place in the lineup.
“Ryan is a great player,” Ruf said. “He’s going to be counted on to help this team win in the last two months hopefully. If we can share a role in making that happen, or he becomes the player that he once was and that we know he can be, and if it’s my opportunity I’ll just look forward to proving I can be that guy, too.”
Ruben Amaro Jr. was unavailable to comment on Howard’s situation and future with the organization.
“Ryno wants to be in there,” Sandberg said. “I totally expect that, so we’ll go forward and make up lineups.”
There just won’t be any guarantee Howard will be in them.
The Phillies signed Ryan Howard to a five-year, $125 million contract extension in April 2010 partly because they believed making a deal more than a year before he hit free agency would become a bargain with fellow first basemen Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez scheduled to hit free agency at the same time.
It hasn’t worked as planned.
Howard is struggling through arguably the worst season of his career, following two injury-riddled seasons, and Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg is ready to look at other options at first base, something unimaginable just a few years ago.
“I know what Ryan Howard can do,” Sandberg said this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. “I think it’s also important to see what other guys can do.”
Darin Ruf started at first base against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, and he could be there more often going forward, although Sandberg said that decision will be made daily. Triple-A infielder Maikel Franco could see playing time at first, if he gets healthy and gets called up in September. Asked if this means he is looking for Howard’s replacement at first base, Sandberg said, “No, but I think it’s also important to see and gauge other players to see where they’re at.”
Howard is making $25 million this season, which makes him the highest-paid position player in baseball. He has $60 million remaining on his contract over the next two seasons, which includes a $10 million buyout on a club option worth $23 million in 2017.
Sandberg said the massive contract isn’t a factor in filling out his lineup card.
“It’s also about wins and losses out here,” Sandberg said. “When the game starts it’s about winning the game and being productive and chipping in and doing the part and doing something to help win a game. If that means playing somebody else there and there’s production right away that’s trying to win a baseball game.”