Monday, August 16, 2010

Can A Hall of Fame Player Be A Good Manager

There is plenty of talk of Ryne Sandberg replacing the retiring Lou Piniella. Sandberg actually interviewed for the position four years ago before Lou was hired. But the Cubs wanted him to have some experience, so four the past four years, Ryno has managed at A (2007-2008), AA (2009), and AAA (2010). He appears to have done alright. The players seem to have nothing but good things to say.

I took this picture in 2007 when Sandberg's Peoria Chiefs were visiting the West Michigan Whitecaps

Here he is signing a baseball for WW Jr.

But can a Hall of Fame player be a good manager?

Since 1980, only one player elected to the Hall has even become a manager. It seems like the rest don't want to bother. Frank Robinson was the only one to be a manager, and even his situation isn't typical. He was a player/manager, so he had the job before being elected to the Hall.

Robinson's managerial career was steady but unspectacular. He managed for a total of 16 seasons but none of his teams ever finished in first place. His career record is 1065-1176, a .475 winning percentage.

The fact that Sandberg was willing to ride buses for the past four years tells us something about his desire and drive. He obviously was willing to do whatever it would take to get the Cubs job. But wanting a job and doing well at that job are two different things.

I think the biggest positive thing Sandberg has going for himself is lack of an overinflated ego. He was quiet and unassuming as a player and I think those traits will help him relate to his players. And as a hall of famer, you would think his players would see him as someone credible and whose opinion they would value.

It will be very interesting to see how all of this plays out. Personally, I'd like to see him given the chance.


  1. Don't forget another HOF player who was managing since 1980: Yogi Berra, who piloted the Yankees in '85-'85 between two of Billy Martin's stints with the team.

    They say that better players don't make better managers but I think that's a fallacy. When you have a player like Ted Williams who got disgusted that his players didn't possess the skills and fire that drove him to be perhaps the best player of his time, you also have players like Yogi...who took both the Yankees and Mets to the World Series.

    I say the manager's job has more to do with mental acuity than physical ability. Ryno always seemed to me the intellectual type of player...he might be well-suited for the job.

  2. unfortunately, it will likely end badly. alan trammell is no longer in a tigers uniform, bill russell went to coach in tampa bay for a while, and i am not sure how much time hal mcrae spends in kansas city these days. high profile players tied to a franchise seem to have more to lose than the backup catchers, not the least of which is that strong link to the team that ultimately may fire them.

  3. On my opinion Sandberg can do it well being a manager. He has the experience being a player and have lots of insights regarding a play. He can easily related to his team regarding most of the problems, he will also be respected for he is HOF guy. It is fair to give him a chance to show what he has to offer. And this man can do more above what we can think of.

  4. He has his own name we can't compare him to others. Every one is unique and his uniqueness can help his team.

  5. gcrl said "unfortunately, it will likely end badly."

    That is the biggest regret I would have if Ryno is hired.....more than likely, one day he will also be fired.

  6. Unlike an Alan Trammell or Don Mattingly, Sandberg is at least paying his dues in the minors, so I think he has a legitimate shot at success.

    Frank Robinson actually was a more than decent manager - he had the misfortune of being hired by four of the worst franchises of the last 35 years - the mid seventies Indians, early 80s Giants, the 1988 Orioles, and the contraction Expos. Given a decent team and he may have done much better. Ted Williams is also somewhat underrated, he got some decent results from some awful Washington teams.

    You know what I learned yesterday? The hitting coach for the 1962 Mets was Rogers Hornsby.

  7. Hornsby was a scout in the Cubs system in the late '50's. The apocryphal story is that after looking over the Cubs AA San Antonio team in 1959, he told a bunch of players to look for another job and he told two that they could hit in the majors now. The two....Billy Williams and Ron Santo.

  8. Sandberg deserves a shot. But he doesn't have to be the NEXT manager of the Cubs. I would rather him wait until a few more players are in place that would give him a good chance at success.

    And if he gets hired, he will, of course, be fired. As a great player, you can choose when its time to go. As a manager, that rarely happens (unless you are getting too old to put up with it like Cox and Pinella).

    I just hope Sandberg has a good run as manager. The hollywood story of "HOF Cubs player turned manager leads the franchise to its first WS in 100+ years" probably isn't going to happen. But, man, that would be AWESOME!

  9. "Sandberg deserves a shot. But he doesn't have to be the NEXT manager of the Cubs. I would rather him wait until a few more players are in place that would give him a good chance at success."....I'm not sure that he would be willing to wait much longer.

    "The hollywood story of "HOF Cubs player turned manager leads the franchise to its first WS in 100+ years" probably isn't going to happen"....of course it WILL happen..O ye of little faith!!

  10. I would love for Ryno to manage the Cubs, but at the same time, for some reasons already mentioned, it would scare me. What happens if he doesn't succeed or he inherits a team not capable of succeeding? Will the fandom for Ryno die? Of course, if it does, it could mean less competition for me on the collecting front. :p