Ryne Sandberg‘s managerial decisions in the second game of the season understandably raised some eyebrows, but his most egregious mistake wasn’t sending Mario Hollands out to make his major league debut in the bottom of the 9th of a tie game. While that move was hardly defensible, it was at least understandable if you squinted your eyes and tilted your head a little. No active manager in baseball would go to his closer in that situation and with two dominant left-handed batters due up in Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder, you can at least understand where Sandberg was coming from when he turned to Hollands, the only lefty remaining in the bullpen. What defies understanding, however, is Sandberg’s usage of Jake Diekman through the first two games.
When the Phillies replaced Charlie Manuel with Ryne Sandberg as manager last seaeson, no one expected a completely new modus operandi. Both are cut from the old-school cloth. But there was the hope that a changing of the guard would signal a willingness to adapt and modernize. To the Phillies’ credit, there has been some of that with the implementation of an analytics department and GM Ruben Amaro acknowledged a potential willingness to platoon Ryan Howard. Through the first two games of the 2014 season, however, Sandberg has shown the same flawed bullpen management that plagued Manuel during his tenure with the Phillies, particularly in the last few years.