Friday, October 28, 2005

Phils talk to Hunsicker

Team president David Montgomery and Hunsicker met in Philly to discuss the Phillies' vacant GM post, and Hunsicker told reporters that the meeting was "productive."

When I worked for the paper in Williamsport, one year the minor league team there was a Mets affiliate and Hunsicker was the director of minor league operations for NY at the time. He seemed like a good guy. I will use whatever influence I have with him to try to draw him to Philly.

Pat Gillick, the former Blue Jays, Orioles and Mariners GM, also is considered a top candidate.

Also, the Philadelphia Inquirer said Montgomery is committed to changing the Zen's tiny leftfield dimensions in the offseason. That crashing sound you just heard was Pat Burrell's stock dropping.

Wagner files for free agency

Billy Wagner has filed for free agencey yesterday. Peter Gammons said on Sports Center that he thinks Wagner will be back, while Jason Stark, on ESPN 920 yesterday, said he thinks Wagner is a good as gone. I guess only time will tell.

Stark had another intresting nugget on the GM search. According to Stark the top two canidates for the opening were Cashman, who stayed with the Yankees, and Jim Duquette who the Phillies never contacted and headed off to the Orioles. Good to see that the Phillies two top choise was never even given the option to consider the job. Not much that you could tdo about Cashman but it still not the best first step. Still I’d rather have Hunsicker anyway so it just fine with me how how it’s worked out so far.

Markus Hayes had this to add another fun note on Ryan Howard.
Howard has said he would like to try to play the outfield despite a brief, aborted leftfield experiment in spring training
If Howard can play out in left it would open up the possability of keeping Thome, but that would mean some shuffling would have to happen in the out field, whether it’s by trades or by shifting Bobby to center and Pat to right.
I’m just happy to see the Phillies are aware that the off season has begun. I was getting worried there.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

More on the GM search

Actually, I don't know that it can be called a search. The word "search" implies activity, and there seems to be little of that here. Maybe it wasn't all Ed's fault after all?

Dennis Deitch tossed out another name for the GM job -- Philly native Joe McIlvaine, who worked for the Mets when they won the 1986 World Series and was the mentor of Gerry Hunsicker, another candidate(?) for the Phillies job. McIlvaine currently is a special assistant to Minnesota GM Terry Ryan.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The closest blowout of the last 55 years

The poor Astros (yes, I know Philly fans are taking delight). There have been 18 sweeps in the World Series and only one has been more closely contested than the White Sox-Houston series this year.

So far, Chicago has outscored the Astro by 5 runs in three games – winning once in extra innings and once in the bottom of the ninth.

The only series in which the run differential was less than five at this point in a sweep came in 1950, when the Yankees swept the Phillies. It’s probably no surprise to Phils’ fans they would have been involved in such a unique occurance.

New York won 1-0, 2-1 in 10 innings and 3-2 in the first three games. Joe DiMaggio’s homer gave the Yankees the victory in Game 2 and NY rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the eighth inning of Game 3. The Yanks completed the sweep with a 5-2 triumph.

Cahman out. Epstein in?

Marcus Hayes and Todd Zolecki are both reporting that Cashman is staying with the Yankees taking another big name off the GM list, but one might be added on.

Reports out of Boston are saying Theo Epstein has turned down the latest offer from the Red Sox.

Epstein would make things interesting, but I can’t think there is anyway that Boston lets Theo walk in 5 days when his contract is up or that Theo would really want to leave.. More likely as long as there is high profile opening like the Phillies Theo will use that as leverage for a better deal from the Sox. So I’m going to think that it’s a pipe dream that Young Epstein will be in Philly for an interview in a few days.

Gerry Hunsicker is still out there but there’s this from Marcus Hayes’s latest.

“Meanwhile, former Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker, who built the team that took the wild-card berth the last two seasons and played in Game 3 of the World Series last night, met in Houston with Tampa Bay baseball development director Andrew Friedman, league sources said. It is the second meeting between Hunsicker and the Devil Rays, who seek an experienced voice to guide Friedman, who is 24.”

One has to think if the Rays offer him a job and he hasn’t been contacted by the Phillies yet, which is what has been reported, than he’ll be off the list soon as well.

It looks like the first wave of interviews won’t start till next week if we’re lucky, starting with Wade’s assistants Ruben Amaro Jr. and Mike Arbuckle.

Amaro Jr. is running the show in the mean time, and doing a pretty bad job so far with the latest news being that Vicente Padilla might be playing some winter ball in Valenzuela which over last two years the Phillies have kept him from throwing in the winter due to his injury problems. The reason I say might be playing winter ball is these two quotes first from Amaro Jr. after hearing that Padilla has already thrown one 6 inning game.

"I'm not surprised he's pitching. We don't have any problem with him throwing,"

Are you telling me the acting GM of the team doesn’t even know what’s going on with one of his pitchers? On top of that the team has no problem with him throwing? So one might guess the Phillies will let Vicente walk off into free agency then, right? Armaro Jr. says… "We do not foresee that happening."

Last bit of news both Burrell and Lofton has some surgery over the weekend. Pat had a bone spur and a “loose body” in his right foot removed. While Lofton cartilage removed from his left knee. Both are expected to ready for spring training, but I doubt Lofton will be wearing a Phillies uniform. What am I saying? I have no idea what to expect from the Phillies at this point.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Thanks for coming, good night!

Scott Podsednik became the 14th player to end a World Series game with a home run, lifting the White Sox to a 7-6 win over the Astros last night. Of the other walkoff homers, many are memorable -- Bill Mazeroski (1960), Carlton Fisk (1975), Kirk Gibson (1988), Kirby Puckett (1991), Joe Carter (1993) and Derek Jeter (2001) quickly come to mind.

What about the rest?

Tommy Henrich hit the first game-ending World Series homer in 1949 to give the Yankees a 1-0 win over the Dodgers in the opening contest of the series. Henrich's homer came off Don Newcombe, who entering the ninth had given up four hits, no walks and struck out 11, and made a winner of Allie Reynolds.

Game 1 of the 1954 World Series between the Giants and Indians is best remembered for Willie Mays' over-the-shouder catch. But it was a three-run homer by pinch-hitter Dusty Rhodes in the 10th inning that gave NY a 5-2 win.

The rest of the list is Eddie Mathews (1957), Mickey Mantle (1964), Mark McGwire (1988), Chad Curtis (1999) and Alex Gonzalez (2003). As you see, the 1988 Series with Gibson and McGwire is the only one in history to have two walkoff dingers.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


It looks like the Phils might have a tough time coming up with a groundball specialist to pitch in the homer-friendly Zen.

The best in the game, not surprisingly, is Arizona sinkerballer Brandon Webb. He recorded 388 groundball outs compared to 116 in the air. No one else even comes close to that ratio. The D-backs have got him locked up and would seem unlikely to trade him. If they did trade him, he wouldn't come cheaply.

Other top guys are Derek Lowe, Jake Westbrook, Mark Mulder, Chris Carpenter, Tim Hudson, A.J. Burnett and Kirk Saarloos.

Westbrook is an intriguing talent, but Cleveland's got him signed through 2006 with an option for 2007. And they're too close to being a post-season team to give up pitching. Burnett is the top free agent hurler on the market, and it's unlikely the Phils will have deep enough pockets.

The best pitcher the Phils could most likely sign is Matt Morris, who probably has the right makeup to pitch in the Zen. Jeff Weaver and Kevin Millwood, as we already know, do not. Another option might be Jason Johnson, who pitched for the Tigers. He can go out and throw a 1-hit shutout, then come back and give up seven runs in his next start. A very frustrating talent. He certainly wouldn't be a splashy sign.

If the Phils decide to return Ryan Madson to a starting role, bring up Gavin Floyd for the whole season and get Randy Wolf back, then they might not need to sign a starter, anyway.

Friday, October 21, 2005

In different camps

My brother and I are clearly divided on Abreu and Burrell. He will defend Pat, pretty much no matter what, and I will step up for Bobby.

It's amazing how a misconception can become truth if it's repeated often enough. This is a frequent political tactic, and also one in dissing Abreu. The myth: Abreu chokes. The truth follows.

In 2003, Abreu hit .361 with 7 HR and 83 RBI with RISP. He batted .362-2-25 with RISP and 2 outs. He hit .250 with 9 HR with the bases empty.

In 2004, Abreu was .322-9-77 with RISP and .396-4-30 with RISP with 2 outs. Not to mention he struck out about once every 10 ABs in that situation. He hit .276 with 17 HR with the bases empty.

Last year, Abreu hit .303-7-76 with RISP. He did struggle with RISP and 2 outs, batting .238-2-27 -- so this is where the "Abreu gags" group gathered its ammo. On the bright side, he had 25 AB with a man on third and less than 2 outs, and had 25 RBI. He hit .267 with 10 HR with the bases empty.

If anything, the last 3 seasons demonstrate Abreu is historically a failure with the bases empty, not with men on base. I really think Abreu was hurt down the stretch. There were time when he was clearly limping. He isn't great defensively, but I would only trade him for a proven No. 1 starter, a No. 2 at worse.

Abreu is more valuable in trade offers because so much of Burrell's success has come in the Zen. Burrell hit .286 at home in 2004 and .293 last year. His slugging was .519 and .557 respectively. On the road, he was .231 and .269 for BA and .399 and .447 for SLG. He's hit 34 of his 56 HR the past two seasons at home.

Bowa to the Yankees?

Larry Bowa is talking to the Yankees about becoming a coach.

There are a few openings there including, pitching coach (no way), bench coach, (maybe but doubtful) and third base coach (smart money). Bowa being the bad cop to Torre’s good cop could be just what the Yankees need. One would think that Bowa hasn’t given up being a manager and being a coach on the Yankees seems to be just as good of a place to start if not better than others.

ESPN radio last night said he was contacted by Cashman, which is very interesting if true.

Lieberthal has minor knee surgery.

He should be back by the time pitchers and catchers report. Libby is having the surgery in hope to regain some of his old form. I’m pretty sure he’s one of the Phillies we can count on coming back next year. The team shopped him last year with few interested, but when you throw in he has a no trade clause, and he seems to not to want to go anywhere, we can only hope for a speedy recovery and that the surgery works out well.

Marcus Hayes is my boy with the Phillies info. This came from his article yesterday about the Phillies latest offer to Wagner.

League sources indicate that the Phillies plan to move Madson from the bullpen, where he has spent his first two seasons, and make him a starter, most likely to replace enigmatic talent Vicente Padilla. The Phillies are not expected to offer arbitration to Padilla. Madson probably would join 2001 first-round pick Gavin Floyd in the back of the rotation.

I really like Madson and have thought he could be given the shot to close if Wagner isn't back. But I wouldn't mind if he was the 5th guy in the rotation. With Floyd I would love to see what really could do, but I'd much rather they find at lest one pitcher we know can start and if that meant including Floyd in a trade with another player and keep Lidel as the 4th starter and not move him up to the 3 I'd be all for it. Which brings me too...

If you haven’t heard by now I’m fully on the trade Bobby Abreu for starting pitching train.

There’s been some speculation that the Phillies would trade either Abreu or Burrell and I think you have to go with Bobby as the trade bait for a few reasons.

1) Pat is clearly the better defender.

2) Pat is also the only right handed bat in the lineup teams have to fear. After him it’s Bell and Libby. Not very scary. If you move Pat and don’t replace him with another strong right handed slugger we’ll have to get use to teams bring in lefties to mow down Utley, Howard and Abreu all season long.

3) Pat is younger cheaper and Bobby may even have more trade value.

4) Pat is an RBI machine when healthy, coming off his best season in the bigs, and entering his prime years as a hitter. No matter what my brother says about his swing.

5) Pat actually comes through when you need him two from time to time.

Now I've been all for trading Bobby in the past, and I'll admit that in the past I haven’t fully appreciated how good Bobby really is. But you know it’s become a lot more then a trend that Bobby vanishes when the games really start to count and that’s what frustrates me the most about him. Maybe a change of scenery would help him break out of that.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

More thoughts on Wagner

Over the last five years, the only closer with at least 100 saves to appear in more games than Billy Wagner is Braden Looper, with 354. Ugie Urbina and Wagner are next with 332. However, Wagner has far more saves and finished more games than either Looper or Urbina. Only Mariano Rivera, with 214, and Jose Mesa, with 181, have more saves than Wagner’s 177 during that span.

You have to wonder, though, about how much Wagner has left in the tank. He will turn 35 next season. He seemed to have dropped 3-4 mph on his fastball this year, or the Phillies got a slower radar gun. He ranks 11th in saves, with 59, over the last two seasons.

I would prefer to see Wagner go if the Phils can get a solid starter; one who throws groundballs. I’m going to have to research best groundball pitchers and see if any are free agents.

Quick Phillies Notes

First the Phillies made another offer to Wagner.

I’ve seen the theory that Wagner is just using the Phillies to drive up his price on the free agent market. I’m starting to think he is. Right now the Phillies are bidding against themselves to get Wagner. First they say he’s over valuing himself when they gave him the first offer and when he scoffs at it the Phillies with no GM in place blink right away and make a counter offer. Nice.

Urbina might be in a load of trouble.

This is terrible news either way since something like this should never of happened in the first place and from a Phillies point of view it could make a mess of everything if things with Wagner if things fall though. Urbina has said he wants to be a closer next year so it might not matter if Wagner does sign. Of course I wanted to keep Urbina and let Wagner walk. I guess we’ll have to wait this one out.

Leo Mazzone goes to the Orioles in a thank goodness moment for Phillies fans.

And while the Orioles are at it, hired Jim Duquette as vice president for baseball operations.

Jim Duquette was on the Phillies list of possible GM candidates, one I didn’t really care for but one all the same. As of now the Phillies haven’t talked to anyone about the opening and seem to be moving in slow motion waiting to see if Cashman becomes available. If they keep going slow though they could end up on the outside looking in because other teams are being active in their searches to fill front office positions.

Can you just see the one by one the top guys taking other jobs and in the end Cashman stays with the Yankees? I can...

What I don’t understand is why the Phillies haven’t brought in Gerry Hunsicker yet. Jason Stark has reported this is Hunsicker’s dream job and his track record is proven. The Astro’s team he built came one game from the World Series last year and is in the Series this year. While Cashman trade Kenny Lofton to us and had center field issues all year and traded Jose Contreras to the White Sox and he’s been amazing helping lead the Sox to the Series this year while the Yankees struggled with their pitching all year. Is that really the guy we are waiting on?

On top of all this the sooner we have a competent GM the more time they’ll have to plan for the rapidly approaching free agent period.

Pack yer Bags for the Windy City

It was 1990 when I first met Jeff Bagwell. He set the New Britain Red Sox franchise record for hits in a season, and he did it in Williamsport, Pa., where I was a sportswriter on the minor league beat. I knew he was a good-hitting third baseman, and he had nowhere to go in Boston because of another pretty good hitter at third -- Wade Boggs. So in August 1990, the Sox traded Bagwell to the Houston Astros for reliever Larry Anderson, routinely considered as one of the most lopsided deals in history.

Anyway, Bags has always been one of my favorite players. Always had to have him on any fantasy team. So I'm glad he will finally get to the World Series, even if he didn't have much to do with the Astros success this season. He's more than paid his dues and, like teammate Craig Biggio and the White Sox's Frank Thomas, deserves it.

It's easy to forget what an awesome all-around offensive force Bagwell was during his prime. From 1996 through 2003, there were only 3 players to accumulate more than 900 R, 875 RBI, 300 HR, 135 SB and hit at least .297. They were A-Rod, Barry Bonds and Bags.

Bags was ages 28-35 for those seasons, usually a hitter's prime years. He averaged .297 with 38 HR, 119 RBI, 121 R and 17 SB during that eight-year span. He was twice a 30-30 guy, which seems ridiculous given his stocky shape.

Enjoy the big show, Bags.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Is Wagner worth it?

Joe pointed out to me a great little blurb by Baseball Prospectus about the whole Wagner situation that I agree with 100%. Basically saying it would be better to use the money needed to sign Wags on some starting pitching and let Ryan Madson close.

I have been on the fence about the whole Wagner thing for a while now and I had thought Madson would be a good guy to give the first shot at closing to. I got scared off a little towards the end of the season when Madson started to stink it up, but I didn’t realize how much Madson had pitched. You have to think he would pitch a few less innings if he were the closer. If nothing else the Phillies could also resign Urbina and have him as a back up if Madson fails. anyway you look at it the team needs to upgrade the starting pitching if they want do more than just make the playoffs.

Either way I think it shows how stupid it would be to sign Wagner before a GM is in place.

Speaking of that whole no GM thing, Marcus Hayes has this to offer.

"The top candidates for one of the most attractive jobs in baseball will be big names with pedigrees such as: former Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker (who will interview for a front-office positing in Tampa next week), former Indians and Rangers GM John Hart, also a candidate in Tampa Bay, former Mets GMs Steve Phillips and Jim Duquette, former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette and, if he becomes available, Yankees GM Brian Cashman."

Why is it that Phillips is not the only name that scares me on the list?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

As only the Phillies can

With the firing of Ed Wade one would think that the Phillies #1 priority would be to find his replacement. One would think, but in true Phillies fashion the Phills have started what is probably the most important off season in Philadelphia baseball in recent history by undercutting the new GM before he even set foot in the door.

Yesterday Dave Montgomery with Ruben Amaro, Jr and Mike Arbuckle flew down to Virginia to resume negotiations with free agent closer Billy Wagner. While Wagner may have been the most important Phillies pitcher this last year one would think as Rich Hofmann of the Philadelphia Daily News has pointed out maybe the signing of Wagner should be left to the new GM since he may think of other ways to spend the 8-10 million dollars it would take to bring Wagner back.

If that wasn’t enough at Mondays press conference where it was announced that Wade was “being relived” of his duties as general manager, Montgomery gave manager Charlie Manuel and his staff an endorsement for a job well done but in his very next statement said the new GM would have the final say in the manager and coaching staff decisions. Nothing like telling all would be candidates that they have a say but you’d sure prefer if they didn’t touch Charlie and his gang just yet.

So how long before is taken?

Steven (terrible) A. Smith strikes again with this gem of writing. Could somebody please just smack him when he turns in anything that doesn’t pertain to his “expertise” the NBA? While we’re at it could someone explain to him that Brian Cashman, who is in Smith’s terms a “real” GM, might not be all that real? Sure over the last 8 years Cashman’s reign over the New York Yankees has resulted in 8 strait division crowns and 3 world titles, but there are 3 things that have to jump right out at you when talking about Cashman’s tenure as the Yankees GM.

1st Most of the core Yankees that won the 3 world titles were already there when he started.

2nd The Yankee pay roll is about 110 million dollars more than the Phillies. Cashman won’t have the luxury of covering up his mistakes by just eating salaries nor will he have the luxury to get the biggest names on the market just because he can. On top of that since his 3 World Series victories the Yankees have become increasingly more and more disappointing and vulnerable despite the pay roll increasing every year.

3rd Cahsman works for the most hands on “Boss” in MLB and during his time the Yankees have made some horrible personnel decisions. It would be foolish to give Cashman full credit for every good to great moves the Yankees have made while it would also be just as foolish to put all the blame on Steinbrenner for all the questionable to horrible moves that were made at the same time.

That’s not to say Cashman wouldn’t be an improvement or that he’s not a great GM, but it shows that there really isn’t any way of knowing until he’s away from the Yankees, and at the cost he will come at is that a chance the Phillies can afford to be taking right now?

Either way the Phillies have to find a way to excite the fan base again. Hiring Cashman would help do that as would Philly area native Gerry Hunsicker, who is the man responsible for the current Houston Astros team.

Weather the Phillies hire Cashman, Hunsicker, one of the other big names or a relative unknown we Phillies fans have come to expect that if there is a way to screw things up the Phillies will find that way. As Joe said to me in an email, “You just know Steve Phillips is available.”

Yep, that pretty much explains the knot in my stomach whenever I start think about this stuff.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Be careful what you ask for…

The rumblings started at the end of last season. A very vocal group of Phillies fans wanted Ed Wade out as the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Now at the end of this season those fans have gotten their wish as Ed Wade was fired yesterday.

Many of them were upset with the firing of manager Larry Bowa thinking he didn’t have the players to win. Many were frustrated by the under performing Kevin Millwood while watching Johnny Estrada blossom in Atlanta. (Even though at the time it seemed like a slam dunk trade for the Phillies) Some were upset that he never made the “big” trade to put the team over the top, (I wouldn’t call the Billy Wagner deal a small trade though) but Wade continued to do his best to put the best team on the field.

Wade never seemed worried about what the fans wanted and maybe that was part of his undoing, but over the last season and a half, many times it seems he was right. If Dave Montgomery kept a score card over the last two seasons it might look like this.

Last season many fans wanted Wade to trade for pitchers Kris Benson or Victor Zambrano. Getting either would have resulted in giving up Chase Utley. Instead of giving up Utley, Wade made a deal a few weeks latter for Cory Lidle giving up much less then the Mets did for either Benson of Zambrano and over that time Lidle has out pitched both of them, at a fraction of the cost. While Utley was voted by the players co-MVP and looks to be a perennial All Star 2nd basemen.

Ed Wade- 1, The Fans – 0

During the last off season many fans wanted Wade to go after one of the top free agent pitchers, namely Carl Pavano. Instead Wade quickly signed John Lieber who has out performed all off the big name free agent pitchers with the exception of Pedro Martinez and showed his ace like ability this pass September, while also coming a lot cheaper.

Ed Wade – 2, The Fans- 0

Fan wanted Carlos Beltran in center, but instead Wade brought in Kenny Lofton, who ended up making almost 15 million dollars less a season and along with Jason Michaels made up the most productive center field in baseball, while Beltran slumped in New York.

Ed Wade – 3, The Fans- 0

Before the start of the season fans called for Wade to move Ryan Howard while his trade value would be at it’s highest. Wade elected to hold on the Howard and when Thome went down to injury, Howard emerged as a rookie of the year candidate with a David Ortiz like flare for late inning heroics and majestic home runs.

Ed Wade 4, The Fans- 0

Wade fired Larry Bowa at the end of last season to a large outcry despite the fact that the players had quite on Bowa for the second strait year. Fans believed that Bowa was a good manager despite young players never developing well under him as well the manager malting down when the pressure of the races became too much for him and the team. Bowa’s in your face attitude even helped chase Scott Rolen away despite being offered more money from the Phillies then he would eventually take from the Cardinals. In Bowa’s place Wade hired Charlie Manuel and though while many of Charlie’s in game decisions left many scratching their heads, the team learned to be resilient (something they never were under Bowa) and they never quit even thought the fans had quit on them. Many wanted Jim Leyland as the new manager but as my brother pointed out, Leyland hasn’t managed since 1999 and his own in your face style may have hurt the Phillies more then help coming down the stretch. At worst you can call this a push at best it was another right call for Wade.

Along the way during this pass season Wade traded Marlon Byrd who would still be sitting in triple A if he was still with the organization and acquired Endy Chavez a player that helped the team all year with his defense and speed a clear improvement. Also when Tim Worrell under performed and then left the team leaving the bull pen in shambles Wade made probably the best deal of the whole season by bringing in Ugueth Urbina while clearing 2nd base full time for Chase Utley by sending Placido Polanco to the Tigers. A move that actually saved the Phillies about 2 million dollars over the course of the season, but Wade was not fired because of all he’s done right over the last two seasons. Wade was fired for his sins in the pass.

Wade paid the price for over paying Mike Lieberthal and David Bell. Wade is being punished for not getting more for Rolen and Schilling despite have his hand forced in both situations and not knowing Kevin Millwood would fold under the pressure of pitching in Philadelphia. Ed Wade may not have been a great general manager (even though the The Hardball Times ranked Wade as the 5th best in the league at the season's start) but Wade was a very good general manager. He made mistakes, but all GMs do, and he made some outstanding moves as well. For the most part he made good moves that made the team better than the year before.

Back to Dave Montgomery’s score card there is one thing I left out. The Fans did have one big thing on their side. They had their money and the fact they were not willing to give to the Phillies any longer. With attendance down close to 600,000 the fans scored big on Dave Montgomery’s score card.

The Fans – 25 Million Dollars, Ed Wade – 4

Now the fans got what they wanted. Wade is gone and the search for a new GM is on, but there in no guarantee that a new GM will solve the Phillies problems or be better than Ed Wade. There is no guarantee that the next GM won’t destroy the young nucleus of Burrell, Rollins, Utley, Howard and Myers to put “his” stamp on the team for the better. So the fans might have gotten what they asked for, but there is a chance that they might end up not liking it.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Motown becomes Iron City

Detroit will look more like Pittsburgh when the Tigers take the field next year.

New manager Jim Leyland is bringing over a slew of former players from his days with the Pirates. From what the Detroit Free Press reports, Andy Van Slyke, Lloyd McClendon, Rafael Belliard and Don "Sluggo" Slaught could all be members of Leyland's coaching staff. Plus Gene Lamont, who followed Leyland as manager in Pittsburgh.

Van Slyke, who has never coached, is being asked to be the Tigers' outfield and baserunning coach. Leyland believes Slick is the ideal candidate to teach youngsters Curtis Granderson and Nook Logan how to play in spacious Comerica Park.

If Slick does join the Tiger, it would be funny -- at least for me. Way back during spring training of 1984, I got my picture taken with Van Slyke, who was getting ready to start his second season with the Cardinals. I was in high school at the time. I recall Van Slyke giving me a hard time because I was wearing a Tigers cap. Hopefully, I can find that picture.

Larry Rothschild, who spent seven years in the Tigers organization, is being sought to be the pitching coach. He worked with Leyland with the 1997 world champion Florida Marlins.

Friday, October 07, 2005

California dreaming

Alan Trammell, freshly fired by the Tigers, will be interviewed by the Dodgers for their managerial job. Other candidates include Torey Lovullo -- another former Tiger -- former Astros and Angels skipper Terry Collins, and Jerry Royster.

Lovullo, some might recall, played briefly with Trammell and was highly touted by Sparky Anderson (but, then again, who wasn't?). ''I'll die before he comes out of the lineup," Sparky said of Lovullo. Fortunately for Sparky, that wasn't the case. Lovullo got 108 at-bats over two seasons, batting .168 with 2 HR and 6 RBI, before being traded at the age of 23 to the Yankees for Mark Leiter.

Trammell is a California native who lives in San Diego.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Tigers hire Leyland

I hated to see Alan Trammell take the Tigers job several years ago because I knew this would be how it ended. Next up, Jim Leyland. He managed the 1997 Marlins to the title while working with current Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski.

Here's what Tony LaRussa says about Leyland: "He is the best manager I have ever been around."

At least he was. He hasn't managed since 1999 when he burned out in Colorado. Hopefully, he can recapture the magic he had in Pittsburgh and Florida.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Fightin' Phils

I will second my brother's post. I write this prior to the final game of the season. The Phillies have taken us this far. You can't ask for anything more. (Other than rhythm and music). If this Phillies team makes the playoffs, it will rival Lazarus. We've kicked dirt on this team numerous times, only to have them come back. You can name any number of games, particularly the collapse against the Astros in the ninth inning on September 7, but the Phils are 14-7 since then. Since the two 1-run losses to the Mets? They are 3-0.

It's mindboggling that this team hasn't generated love for its ability to fight back. This is a team that doesn't have a regular hitting above .290, and only 1 year-long starter with an ERA under 4. Yet they are alive on the final day of the season.

Many people have bashed Charlie Manuel. I must admit, some of his moves are head-scratchers. But I don't think this team would continue to bounce back without him. Can you blame him when the bullpen fails? Madson to Urbina to Wagner is what any manager would do. It is what he was given. If it doesn't work out, what else is there?

If I would have told you the Phils would play the majority of the season without Thome and Wolf and still be alive right now, would it have been believable? C'mon, this is a team that has David Bell -- yes, David Bell -- as its fourth-best RBI man.

The fans of Philadelphia should be embarrassed for not getting behind this team. It represents everything Philly fans ask for, most particularly grit. The Eagles continually disappoint them, yet they love them. The Phils give them a team to rally behind, and they blow it.