Ryne Sandberg inherited a tough job. After taking over from Charlie Manuel towards the end of the 2013 season, the former second base great must now confront a roster lousy with two things – veteran players and expectations.
Veteran players tend to be expensive players, drawing huge paychecks after prosperous careers. Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and the rest certainly earned the spoils of their spectacular early careers. But with big money comes an expectation of a winning product. The Phillies might have a great new TV deal but they don’t trot out this expensive roster for fun.
This is a team expected to win. Rather than break up his underachieving group, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. doubled down this offseason. The Phils added veterans Marlon Byrd and A.J. Burnett in addition to Cuban pitcher Miguel Gonzalez.
So Sandberg must do what he thinks he must to wring all the wins out of roster presented to him by Amaro. His chosen method for getting the most out of his guys? Needling and benching starting shortstop Jimmy Rollins.