Ryne Sandberg, Dues Payer

His number is flying on the freaking flag pole. But, yeah, Sandberg needs to pay his dues.

When the news broke yesterday about Ryne Sandberg’s departure from the Chicago Cubs organization, a grand total of 0.00 people were surprised. But Kevin Goldstein (and at least 10 other people who felt the urge to retweet the sentiment verbatim) deemed Sandberg’s rejection of his old job as manager of the AAA Iowa Cubs to be a petty move, even for a Hall-of-Famer.

Sandberg spent just 4 yrs as minor league mgr and quits because he doesn’t get the MLB job. Insult to those that actually paid their dues.

What’s truly insulting is the insinuation that Ryne Sandberg has not paid his dues to whatever association is currently collecting that payment. If it’s the fraternal order of minor league baseball managers, four years isn’t a ton of time. Still, if it doesn’t qualify as paying his dues, Sandberg’s four-year stint has to at least cover the initial registration fee.

Or did he not pay his dues to the Chicago Cubs? Fifteen seasons. Ten as an All-Star. One MVP. Nine Gold Gloves. Seven Silver Sluggers. Sixty-two wins above replacement. I’d say the four years managing in the minors was overkill as far as his Cubs dues are concerned.

No, I’m sure what Goldstein was getting at must have been the dues required to be a major league manager. So I decided to take a look at the current roster of managers and see who has paid what, especially in the currencies of minor league coaching/managing, major league coaching, and major league playing time before landing their first full-time MLB managing job.

Name Mgr in Minors MLB Coach MLB Player
Buck Showalter 5 2 0
Terry Francona 4 1 9+
Ozzie Guillen* 0 3 16
Manny Acta 10 5 0
Jim Leyland 12 4 0
Ned Yost 3 12 5+
Mike Scioscia* 1 2 13
Ron Gardenhire 3 12 5
Joe Girardi* 0 1 15
Bob Geren 9 (on and off) 4 5
Eric Wedge 5 0 2+
Joe Maddon 13 (plus scouting) 10 0
Ron Washington 4 11 9+
John Farrell 0 (some front office work) 4 5+
Kirk Gibson* 0 8 17
Fredi Gonzalez 10 7 0
Mike Quade 19 7 0
Dusty Baker* 0 5 17+
Jim Tracy 8 6 2
Edwin Rodriguez 12 0 0+ yrs (11 games)
Brad Mills 11 11 4
Don Mattingly* 0 7(ish) 13+
Ron Roenicke 6 11 8
Charlie Manuel 10 8 5+
Tony LaRussa 2 (more as player/coach) 0 3+ (132 games in 6 seasons)
Bud Black* 0 (front office, 1 yr MiL pitching coach) 2 14+
Bruce Bochy 4 2 9
Jim Riggleman 9 2 0

*10 or more years as MLB Player

In terms of paying his dues to become a manager, Ryne Sandberg has done it, especially if you look at the seven guys with at least 10 full seasons in the big leagues. Of those seven, only Mike Scioscia spent any time managing in the minors and that was only one year.

Sandberg has as much or more minor league managing time as 7 of the other guys, but none of them approach Sandberg’s major-league service time. Francona and Washington each had 10 partial seasons in the bigs (my cutoff for a full season was 10 games, so it’s not like I’m being all that strict) and each of them logged exactly 4 seasons of minor league managerial time.

If we’re talking strictly minor league service time, and Goldstein obviously was, Sandberg has more than paid his dues. The amount of time his HOF butt spent on minor-league buses is unprecedented. That doesn’t mean the Cubs owed him the job, but any more time in the minors would have been an insult to himself. Yeah, he could have done it, but he doesn’t owe anybody anything else in that capacity. The fact that he did it at all was, compared to other managers with his player credentials, well beneath his status.

The difference, obviously, is in the time coaching at the big-league level. I’d argue that being a major-league coach is the most overrated credential on any managerial candidate’s résumé, but MLB obviously disagrees. And that’s not really the point. Maybe Ryno does need to spend a few seasons as an MLB coach, but that’s all he ever should have had to do in the first place. The question is, did Ryne Sandberg pay his dues?

The answer is an emphatic, Hell yeah.

5 Replies to “Ryne Sandberg, Dues Payer”

  1. Meh. I don't know about Hell Yes, but he did spend a lot of time in the game. So did a lot of people. The problem is that it seemed from listening to interviews, etc. it was like he was almost expecting the Cubs to hand him the job. Is Quade the best candidate? Maybe, maybe not. Time will tell. I still say the Cubs did him a favor by not hiring him. And the problem I had with the whole thing was that Ryno treated it like an insult. He reacted the same way he would've if the Cubs had jerked his pants down at a press conference.

    Whether or not he's paid his dues will be determined by what his next job is. I have to wonder if Ryno would have accepted a coaching job, or if he wanted the whole pizza for himself.

    I can easily see how coaching in the big prior to managing would help. you get a court side seat at how the manager does his thing, day to day. You can have in depth discussions about how to do this or why to do that. At least that's how I see it.

  2. Paying your dues isn't the same as deserving the job. But the precedent has been set as far as what's expected of former everyday MLB players who want to become managers, and it doesn't include time in the minors. People have speculated as to how Ryno is taking this, but publicly all he has said is that he was disappointed but appreciated the opportunity Hendry gave him. Not returning to AAA makes all the sense in the world. It's pretty clear that no additional time there will help him in the slightest.

  3. It's unfortunate, but also not unexpected that Quade didn't offer him a ML coaching job. I completely understand why. You don't want to be overshadowed by your first base coach, but it would've been nice to see him up here.

  4. Quade is going to be managing in Ryne's shadow anyway. I'm guessing that Ryno's name will be shouted from the seats if the Cubs play poorly next season.

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