Kevin Frandsen will likely be returning to the IronPigs in 2012 following the announcement that he has again signed with the Phillies. Frandsen jumped out to a fantastic start last season before being derailed by a 50-game suspension that kept him out from early May to mid-July. Overall he led the team with a .303 batting average, drove in 40 runs, stole 10 bases, and was 6th on the team in hits with 86 while being a fan favorite.
New general manager Theo Epstein made it official on Wednesday: the Chicago Cubs managerial job is open. Epstein flew to Florida to inform Mike Quade that he was fired and then announced to the press that one guy who won't be interviewed for the job is franchise legend and current IronPigs manager Ryne Sandberg.
Turns out Epstein wants a manager who already has major league experience which rules out Sandberg despite his successful first five years in the minor leagues. Ryno told Theo in a phone call that he understood, but the news comes as a big surprise to Cubs and Pigs fans who thought it was all but guaranteed that the Cubs Hall of Famer would return to Chicago to manage the team in 2012.
So if that wasn't shocking enough, news came out a few hours later that the Phillies granted the Cardinals permission to talk to Sandberg about their now vacant managerial position. The Cards didn't indicate if Sandberg is high on their list of candidates and it remains to be seen if he would break his Cubs allegiance and manage their arch-rivals. The Cardinals, Cubs, and Red Sox are the only three teams in baseball in need of a manager at this point.
Just a gut feeling, but I don't see Ryno managing the Cardinals. There's been no news of the Sox being interested in him and they fired Francona on September 30th. The Cubs now say they won't hire him. Again, just a feeling, but things are looking up for a Sandberg return in 2012 (though there's still the chance he could get a bench job somewhere).
With that the IronPigs have started an "Occupy Ryno" campaign with Ferrous and FeFe offering him a year's supply of pork if he stays. I don't think it's a coincidence that they started this right after Chicago turned him down. The Pigs' marketing team is one of, if not the best, in Minor League baseball. Sure they don't know all the details, but they are clearly feeling as well that a Sandberg return is possible. Otherwise they wouldn't waste the time.
You can answer the question "What would you give up to keep Ryne Sandberg as IronPigs manager" on the team's Facebook and Twitter pages for a chance to win prizes. They're also looking for creative pictures from fans which you can submit via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Of course the more important question is whether or not Delicious will return next year. No news on that at this point in time...
One of the key players from the 2011 team is coming back! The Phillies have re-signed infielder Pete Orr who appeared in 75 games with the IronPigs and 46 games with the Phillies last season. Orr hit .267 with 5 HR, 26 RBI, and 15 SB (second on the team) while playing a number of positions including 3B, 2B, SS, and DH.
Orr only hit .219 with the Phillies, but there could be room for him on the Phils bench in 2012 if Rollins does not re-sign. As it stands right now (w/o Rollins), the bench is looking like Michael Martinez, Wilson Valdez, and Ben Francisco with Freddy Galvis the starting shortstop. Orr would be a good veteran backup for Galvis though it seems like the Phillies are content with Valdez as the #1 back up infielder. Either way we should see him in the Valley at some point next year.
Here's some great news from The Morning Call's Mandy Housenick: Andy Tracy is back in the Phillies organization and will manage one of the minor league teams this season. Which specific team has yet to be determined, but I'd imagine it won't be above Clearwater. This may bode well for our dream of Tracy managing the IronPigs one day.