A.J. Burnett

ryne sandberg getty

Larry Bowa says Ryne Sandberg quit because he felt disrespected by his players


Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com has an exclusive interview with Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa in which he talks about why he thinks Ryne Sandberg unexpectedly quit as Phillies manager a few weeks ago.

Coming change in the front office which would likely result in his termination may have been part of it. Losing is not easy either. But Bowa believes that Sandberg simply got tired of feeling disrespected by his players:

Several pitchers — Hamels, A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick and David Buchanan — openly disrespected Sandberg during visits to the mound last season . . . There were issues this season, as well. Cameras caught Chase Utley chastising pitching coach Bob McClure during a relief appearance by Jeff Francoeur last month in Baltimore, and Ken Giles showed up the manager and got an earful in return in Pittsburgh.

Bowa said that Giles is a good kid, but that he got caught up in the moment. But it seems Sandberg got caught up too, yelling at Gile: “He went over and said, ‘I’m running this team. If I want to put that guy on, I’m putting him on. I’m the manager, you’re the pitcher.'”

Was that one of the moments that led to Sandberg’s decision?

“Maybe,” Bowa said. “Maybe.“

Salisbury prefaces all of this with some stuff about how Sandberg, going back 20 years to his autobiography, said that he just couldn’t abide the younger players’ lack of work ethic. Of course, old baseball men have been saying that for over 100 years. And of course when you have A.J. Burnett, Cole Hamels and Chase Utley on your case, it’s not exactly a function of “young guys” not getting it. It’s a function of you pretty much having lost your entire clubhouse. If you ever had it.

Maybe the Phillies’ job would’ve been impossible for anyone given the state of the roster and the fact that, in following Charlie Manuel, Sandberg was following a man who was seen as a players’ manager and a man who was immensely popular with the veterans on the team.

But there sure is a whole heck of a lot suggesting that maybe Ryne Sandberg wasn’t the right man for the job and that he wasn’t of the experience and temperament to deal with a major league clubhouse.

HBT First-Half Awards: National League Cy Young

Max Scherzer

With no baseball on Wednesday or Thursday, we’re taking stock of the best performances of the first half of the season by handing out midseason awards. Maybe someday we’ll have the budget for an actual Midseason Award Trophy, but for now they merely get our kind and admiring words. Next up: National League Cy Young Award.

Craig Calcaterra‘s ballot:

1. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
2. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Zack Greinke is making some ERA history at the moment, what with his microscopic 1.39 ERA. In terms of ERA+ — which adjusts for park and era and compares him with other pitchers in the league — Greinke is at an astounding 265. To put that in perspective, the year Bob Gibson set the modern ERA record for starters with a 1.12 mark, his ERA+ was 258. Greinke also leads the NL in pitching WAR, by a wide margin pursuant to the folks at Baseball-Reference.com and a smaller margin by the guys at FanGraphs.

Still, ERA ain’t perfect, even if Greinke’s margin in that category is pushing a full run over A.J. Burnett and Max Scherzer. And, quibble with me if you want as I am not a hardcore stats guy, but pitching WAR always gets a bit of the side eye from me.

That’s why I’m going with Max Scherzer. A guy who while “only” posting an ERA of 2.11 has a better WHIP, better strikeout ratios, better fielding independent pitching numbers and a lower opponent’s batting average than Greinke and just about everyone else. He has an astounding strikeout-to-walk ratio of 10.71 which, if it holds, will be one of the best marks in that category in history. Scherzer leads the NL in innings pitched, complete games, shutouts and batters faced as well. To me he’s the clear choice, even with that microscopic Greinke ERA.

Kershaw? Well, I feel like it’s a two-horse race here and I figured the third horse may as well be the guy leading the league in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings pitched. He also leads the league in xFIP while coming in second in FIP. The guy has pitched in some bad luck, especially dingers-wise. If that’s not good enough, I have him here so you deadenders who insist that he doesn’t “have what it takes” in the playoffs or some such can get mad.

Aaron Gleeman‘s ballot:

1. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
3. Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates

There are definitely other compelling arguments to be made–for Max Scherzer leading the league in innings pitched and having the best all-around numbers, or for Clayton Kershaw being the best pitcher on the planet and leading the league in strikeouts. Ultimately, though, I’m a simple man and when someone goes into the All-Star break with the best first-half ERA by any starting pitcher since 1968 they get my vote.

Zack Greinke’s secondary numbers aren’t as good as his historic ERA, but they’re pretty damn good and his ERA is 1.39. One-thirty-nine. Greinke also ranks second to Scherzer in innings pitched and opponents’ batting average, is currently riding a 35.2-inning scoreless streak, and blows away the competition in Win Probability Added. I think there’s a strong chance Scherzer will wind up being the most deserving pitcher at the end of the season, but in the meantime I’ll ride with Greinke.

Zack Greinke and Dallas Keuchel named All-Star starters

Zack Greinke AP

All-Star managers Bruce Bochy and Ned Yost have chosen their starting pitchers, with right-hander Zack Greinke of the Dodgers getting the assignment for the National League and left-hander Dallas Keuchel of the Astros being the pick for the American League.

Greinke’s excellence is well known. He’s a three-time All-Star and former Cy Young winner who currently has a 35.2-inning scoreless streak and an MLB-best 1.39 ERA that’s the lowest by any starting pitcher at the All-Star break since 1968.

The other starting pitchers on the NL roster are Madison Bumgarner, A.J. Burnett, Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Martinez, Clayton Kershaw, Shelby Miller, Max Scherzer, and Michael Wacha.

Keuchel is a great story. He was never considered a top prospect, had a losing record with a 3.74 ERA in the minors, and went 9-18 with a 5.20 ERA for the Astros in 2012 and 2013. Then last season he took a huge step forward, throwing 200 innings with a 2.93 ERA, and Keuchel has been even better this season with an 11-4 record and 2.23 ERA in a league-high 137 innings.

The other starting pitchers on the AL roster are Chris Archer, Sonny Gray, Felix Hernandez, David Price, Chris Sale, and Hector Santiago.

Last year’s All-Star starters were Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals for the National League and Felix Hernandez of the Mariners for the American League.