Archive for October, 2005

Don’t Mess With Brookline

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, October 31, 2005 06:29 PM Comments: 0

Wow.  Despite dozens of reports claiming Theo Epstein accepted the most recent deal offered by the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Herald reports he is walking away.  It was believed Theo was looking for a 3 year, $1.5 million and the Red Sox gave it to him.  However, despite my earlier assumptions to the contrary, the inter-office politicking between Epstein and Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino was too much for Theo to handle. 

Good for him I say.  First of all, it’s high time Theo moves out of Lucchino’s shadow to prove he can succeed without his mentor.  The relationship between GM and boss must be complementary, it should not overlap as much as it does in Boston.  Of course nowhere is this intrusion more apparent than in New York; but Brian Cashman made sure to address this issue in his new deal with a “document of philosophy” explaining how he believes the chain of command should operate. 

Second, Theo deserves much more than the $1.5 million at which he valued himself – a rare miscalculation by the virtuoso GM.  In the Boston Globe’s article reporting Theo’s impending signing there were plenty of examples listing higher paid GMs – many with less success. 

Atlanta GM John Schuerholz makes $1.6 million per year. Brian Cashman recently accepted a three-year extension for close to $6 million. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski earns a reported $2 million per year, but he also serves as club president. Oakland GM Billy Beane makes a reported $1 million-plus, though his compensation package includes an ownership stake in the club. Beane was offered $12.5 million over five seasons by the Sox before they hired Epstein, and that offer bolstered Epstein’s resolve during negotiations.

Maybe Theo realized that going out on top, while having the short term implication of unemployment, would increase his value in the long term.

The long term in this case seemingly will have to wait a year.  The Herald claims, “The Dodgers, Phillies and Devil Rays currently have GM vacancies but it is believed that Epstein is likely to take a year off from baseball before considering a return.”  While this might be true, the Phillies cannot take any chances: this increases their urgency.  Theo’s free agency could inflate the price for a quality GM. Plus, now that the Red Sox and Dodgers are now in search for a GM the Phillies need to stake their claim.  We all know the Phils can’t compete with the Sox on the field, but this is certainly true off the field as well.

Update: Todd Zolecki reports an announcement could come within the next two days and Gillick is now the frontrunnner.  Nonetheless, the LA Times claims the Dodgers have asked to speak with the USC grad.


Profile: Gerry Hunsicker

Posted by Brian Michael, Sun, October 30, 2005 10:16 PM Comments: 0

Now that the announcement has been made that the Phillies have finally interviewed front-runner Gerry Hunsicker chances are improving that he will be the new GM.  Essentially the race is between him and Pat Gillick.  However it is obvious that Hunsicker is the fan’s favorite.  I thought then we should take this opportunity to learn a bit more about the leading candidate.  Gillick will be profiled later this week.

As many of you know, the 55 year old Hunsicker is a Philadelphia area native.  He grew up in Collegeville, Montgomery County, which interestingly enough is home to only one major college, Ursinus (and even that’s a stretch).  He attended Saint Joseph’s University where he was an All-Conference baseball player.  In 2000, he returned to his alma mater to speak on labor relations and the prospect of long-term fiscal sanity of baseball (article written by a young shallowcenter blogger).

Gerry Hunsicker’s professional career began, for all intents and purposes, in 1988 with the New York Mets.  There he worked for seven seasons, first as director of minor-league operations and then as assistant GM.

On Nov. 10, 1995, he was plucked to become GM of the Houston Astros.  The ‘stros went 701-595 with .541 winning percentage during his 9 seasons with the team.  Comparatively that puts Houston sixth in victories and winning percentage among all major-league clubs during that span.  His teams reached the playoffs 5 out of 9 years while winning 4 division titles. 

Needless to say he had an extremely successful tenure in Houston.  USA Today called him ”the Frank Lloyd Wright of general managers.” Here are some brief points pulled of an excellent article from Houston’s Clear Thinkers written just after Hunsicker resigned:

Homegrown Talent Lance Berkman, Richard Hidalgo, Bobby Abreu, Roy Oswalt, Brad Lidge, and Wade Miller

Key Acquisitons:   Randy Johnson, Jeff Kent, Octavio Dotel, Moises Alou, Carl Everett, Jose Lima, Carlos Beltran and Roger Clemens

Bad Decisions:  

  • signing Jeff Bagwell to a long term deal in the twilight of his career
  • failing to secure a quality catcher and overpaying Brad Ausmus
  • not protecting Bobby Abreu in the expansion draft (though a good move for the Phillies)

Hunsicker resigned from the Astros GM post in 2004.  Supposedly Astros owner Drayton McLane was seeking potential buyers for the club and thus did not want to make any long term contractual commitments.  So with the writing on the wall, Hunsicker decided to go out on top and take a year off.

His explanation: ”I talked about it on and off with my wife (Irene) during the year. We talked about an exit strategy, if you will. We talked about not wanting to do this forever. Especially at this point in our lives, we were looking for a place to jump off.”  Hunsicker sought to spend more time visiting his 23 year old daughter who lives in Denver and relaxing at his house in Florida.  He still resides in suburban Houston.

It doesn’t take much analysis to figure out that Hunsicker is the obvious choice for GM.  Although the Phillies are not known for making any sudden moves, they do take the time to go through the motions.  Fortunately it seems those motions are near conclusion, so it should only be a matter of days before an announcement is made.


News from Around the Hemisphere

Posted by Brian Michael, Sun, October 30, 2005 07:05 PM Comments: 0

Paul DePodesta was fired as general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.  This might add yet another name to the Phillies’ list; although based on Monty’s letter yesterday, it seems as if the Phils are already into the second stage of their search – the list of potentials is set.  DePodesta, earned his stripes under the tutelage of Billy Beane in Oakland and would certainly bring a new perspective – a Moneyball one – to the Phils.  However, a major criticism of his has been his lack of emphasis on team chemsity.  Sure stats matter, but trading fan favorite and clubhouse leader Paul LoDuca at midseason was an obvious mistake.  Nonetheless, he was a huge asset for LA and Dodger fans are sad to see him go.  We’ll throw him on our list of probables but it is unlikey he will garner an interview. 

Check back here later tomorrow for an in-depth profile on the man who will (and should) receive serious consideration: frontrunner Gerry Hunsicker.

In international news, the Uggie Bugieman finally turned himself in this past week to the Attorney General in Caracas.  In response to allegations of burning and machetteing several of his farm hands, our setup man replied,  â€œWhat I can say is that I have nothing to do with that and I came here to face my responsibilities.”  This is certainly a pickle for our boy, but thankfully Venezuela is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.  He and his MLB salary should be able to either settle the claims with the workers or settle his freedom with local authorities.  I hope he’s still with the team next year, I’m interested to see how far away the rest of pitchers will sit when he’s in the bullpen.


From the Horse’s Mouth

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, October 28, 2005 09:52 PM Comments: 0

Dear Phillies Fan:
Late this afternoon, a conference call with the media was held to update them on the search for a new General Manager. I wanted to take this opportunity to give you a summary of the conference call.

During the past two weeks, more than 40 candidates have either been identified by us or have directly or indirectly expressed interest in the position. After reviewing and evaluating this list, we have selected a group of individuals for one-on-one interviews.

Thus far, I have conducted three interviews: Mike Arbuckle, our Assistant GM, Scouting & Player Development, on Wednesday; Gerry Hunsicker, former GM of the Houston Astros, on Thursday and Pat Gillick, former GM of the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners and the current Special Consultant in Seattle, today.

I expect to continue this process through the weekend, including interviewing Ruben Amaro, Jr. on Sunday, followed by one or two more interviews early next week and more, if necessary, with the hopes of identifying our new GM as soon as possible. As I’ve indicated, getting the right person is of the utmost importance.

On another matter, a question arose concerning the dimensions of Citizens Bank Park. We have always wanted to have a ballpark that plays fair. After extensive study and charting every home run the past two seasons, we have decided to make changes to the existing left field wall. Details on this project will be forthcoming.

As always, thank you for your interest in the Phillies.

David Montgomery

Well, there you have it Monsieur Montgomery has confirmed most of our earlier suspicions on both fronts.  The value added, however, was his claim that the GM selection will come as soon as possible.  The Sunday interview with Ruben shows they’re even willing to work weekends.  I guess that’s cause with Halloween on Monday they’re afraid Ruben might be disguised as a legitimate candidate.  Thus, with at least two more interviews scheduled, I wouldn’t expect a decision for at least another 10 days.

To make things easier, Theo Epstein will probably be staying with the Red Sox.  Despite their recent falling out over management chain of command and bumpy negotiation process, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and president Larry Lucchino released this joint statement the other day:

“We had a meeting over lunch today to continue our discussions and to conduct other business as well. We made progress, but we anticipate no further statement until there is something to announce. We are hopeful that these discussions will work out for the best. In the meantime, we continue ‘business as usual.’”

Most of the talk about Theo being unhappy with the Sox is because “Lucky” Larry is power hunger and refuses to give Theo due credit for building the current squad.  But these two guys have been together for over a decade in Baltimore, San Diego, and now Boston.  Plus the latest offer of $1.2 million over 3 years is closer in line to Theo’s $1.5 mil asking price for the same period.  They had hoped to make an announcement on Friday; but Red Sox spokesman Glenn Geffner reported, “We’re not expecting any news today.  I wouldn’t imagine we’ll have an announcement over the weekend.”  So Red Sox fans and GM watchers will have to be content with the news of no news at least until Monday.  Though I think the deal will get done, we won’t cross Theo off the list just yet.  Remember, David Montgomery said there would be more interviews if necessary.


Hot Stove Items

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, October 28, 2005 11:03 AM Comments: 1

While Brian is correct, we are not here to replace sites such as ESPN.com or Philly.com, I would feel remiss if I did not mention a few hot rumors that are flying around Philly right now. 

First Monty has set up an interview with Jerry Hunsicker for the vacant GM spot.  Reportedly Monty was playing by the “old rules” of baseball where teams do not make any moves or set up any interviews until after the World Series is over.  Well someone should tell Monty that this is 2005, not 1975.  Hunsicker already has had 2 interviews with the Devil Rays, so the Phils better wow him and tell him he would have total control over the team (6 out of 9 years in the playoffs for the Astros team that Hunsicker put together proves he has the resume and capability to put together a winner).

Speaking of the Devil Rays, the Tampa Tribune is reporting that Mike Schmidt is on their short list of managerial candidates!  Are they kidding?  Schmidt hated coaching players in Clearwater b/c none of them could live up to him as far as ability was concerned.  Are the Devil Rays that different from a minor league team?  None of their current players are going to be Hall of Famers like Michael Jack so why would they even want to interview him.  I know its probably a media stunt, but still this news is funny to me.

Finally a rumor that blew my socks off when I heard it.  Say what you will about Howard Eskin, and I know many hate him and I agree he is an arrogant ass most of the time, but he does have insider contacts with all the Philly teams and even with many of the national teams as well.  He is always breaking news before it becomes public (remember it was thanks to Howard that the Phillies finally had to correct where the numbers were on the left center field wall b/c the Phillies were not showing accurate distances).  Well according to Eskin, two of his insiders at the Phillies have told him that the Phils are going to remove 3 rows of seats in left field so they can move the fence back 20 feet!  Can you believe that, they are giving up revenue so as to make the Bank a real major league stadium!  Is this a sign of many more changes to come for the Phils?


Baseball Clubs and Power Structures

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, October 25, 2005 11:26 PM Comments: 0

Ok, we’re not here to replace ESPN or the Inquirer – that’s not what Phillies Nation is about.  So we’re not going to inundate you with the play by play of the Phillies GM race, we assume that business is taken care of before you get here.  However, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out a discrepancy in the news cycle related to this topic.  The Inky’s Todd Zolecki reports that, “Brian Cashman is out.”   NY Post, on the other hand, has yet to pull the trigger and claims the Yankees and B-Cash were ”contemplating two offers. One was for four years for $8.8 million; the other for three years at $5.6 million.”  Most likely, yes, Cashman will stay with the Yankees, but we’re not crossing him off the probables list until the final word is heard.

Our main candidate, meanwhile like Billy Wagner, is exploring other options.  Hunsicker has been heavily courted by Tampa Bay and talks have opened between the two sides.  If the Phillies miss out on a quality candidate to the Devil Rays because they’re waiting around (why are they waiting to interview people again?), I will be wholehearted pissed.  The D-Rays are a AAA franchise at best, while the Phils command the 4th highest payroll in the majors as well as one of the country’s largest markets.  Why aren’t they acting like the world class organization they could be.  If you want something and you have the resources, go out and get it before someone else does.  You don’t see the New York, Chicago or LA teams passively managing their ballclubs and neither should Philadelphia.  If Hunsicker is the guy, sign him by the week’s end.  He built a legitimate Astros team that beat the Phillies this year and should at least be courted on the level of Eddie’s father.

Speaking of Houston, I have a general baseball power struggle question.  Why didn’t Houston close the dome last night?  Forget Bud Selig and his mandate to open Minute Maid.  Sure, he has the authority to make the statement though MLB’s ”best interest clause,” but what enforcement mechanism does he have if Houston decides to close the the roof?  Just because Selig ordered BankOne Ballpark open in 2001, doesn’t make the precendent binding: baseball is not governed by the common law system.  Similarly, Bud can’t call the cops and make the guy pull the lever to open the roof and he sure as hell ain’t gonna make Houston forfeit the game.  Maybe a fine would be assessed but I’m sure the Astros organization would pick up the tab.  Therefore, the Astros management are fools for acquiescing to his demands without at least putting up a fight.


Updates Updates

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, October 25, 2005 12:12 PM Comments: 0

First, I would like to start off with a Billy Wagner update.  Wagner said he was very pleased with the Phil’s latest offer, but he still wants to test the free agent market.  Seems Ruben Amaro Jr. and Monty upped the deal to the 3 year 30 million mark like Billy wanted, but now he wants a chance to play for a team that has a legitimate shot to make the World Series.  What does that say about how he feels about the Phils?  Also he said that if they move Madson to the starting rotation and don’t resign Uggie he does not want to be part of a patch work bullpen. 

Secondly, an update on the GM situation.  From my point of view, and I admit this is only my opinion and it is not rooted in facts what so ever, it would seem that the Phillies are putting all their eggs in one basket.  That basket would be the Brian Cashman basket.  Hunsicker has been quoted as saying that he is, “very intrigued” by the Tampa Bay GM position that he interviewed for and Jim Duquette is now off the market as well.  Now it is being reported that “The Boss” has offer Cashman a 3 year extension worth 5 million dollars, but Cashman must make his decision on weather or not to take the deal within the next 48 hours.  What if Brian accepts the deal?  What next for the Phillies?  And my ultimate question is what kind of power are Monty and the boys going to give this new GM?  Will he be able to have complete control over baseball decisions without the “keep it in the family” attitude the Phillies are so notorious for displaying over the past 25 years?     

Finally, I would like to report that now I hate the Yankees even more.  I wish them nothing but the worst with that grim and grump Larry Bowa as their third base coach.  I never want him or any team he is associated with to succeed!  There has been a lot of talk these days comparing Bowa and Ozzie Guillen of the White Sox b/c both were fiery short stops during their careers.  Well I am here to say that there is no comparison.  I have never seen a calmer manger as Ozzie in my life.  One of his players made a HUGE base running mistake and it was obviously the wrong play, but when he came in FOX got him on tape asking Ozzie if he made the right play and Ozzie was like…oh yeah of course when it obviously was not…Bowa would have had three different kind of conniption fits if that had happened to the Phillies in the World Series…Bowa sucks and the Yankees deserve everything they get by hiring him….he and Torre are polar opposites.


Updates on Phillies Nation and Uggie-gate

Posted by Brian Michael, Sun, October 23, 2005 08:59 AM Comments: 0

There are a few new additions to plethora of Phillies resources on the sides of Phillies Nation.  First is the navigation box which features links to new pages including the photo gallery, archives, and about us pages.  It’s up there on the top left so check out them out.  Second is the box of Phillies message boards on the right below the ads.  They’re chock full of trade rumors and general Phillies speculation.

Speaking of speculation, let’s not forget about Uggie Urbina: he’s still quite possibly in a load of mierda.  El Universal reported on Saturday that Uggie has yet to come forward regarding his involvement in the insanity that ensured at his mother’s ranch last week.  Police spent the weekend combing the property in search of any additional clues that might shed some light on this heinous crime. 

The headline of the article, “Aún se desconoce el paradero del pelotero” translates literally to, “Still the whereabouts of the hot dog are not known.”  According to the invaluable Baseball Hall of Fame Spanish to English dictionary we discover that pelotero is an idiom for a “cocky player.”  It seems the natives are getting restless with one of their most famous exports.  I wonder what the king of Venezuela, Bobby Abreu, has to say about this incident.  I’m sure he could be a valuable resource to Uggie, but at the same time, I bet he doesn’t want to touch this situation with a 10 foot pole.


Phans for Hope Event

Posted by Brian Michael, Sat, October 22, 2005 06:57 PM Comments: 0

2nd Annual Fight For Hope Night

Come Meet Special Guests, Flyers Great Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, and Swoop, the Official Mascot of the Philadelphia Eagles!

Phans For Hope is pleased and excited to announce their 2nd Annual Fight For Hope Night charity event, with proceeds to benefit the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge. Come join us and our special guests for a great time to benefit a great cause!

Where: Stadium Holiday Inn
900 Packer Avenue
Philadelphia , PA

When: Saturday, November 12th, 5-10 PM

Dave “The Hammer” Schultz will be appearing from 5-6 PM , and will be signing autographs, posing for pictures, and telling people about the fantastic items available in our memorabilia auction, courtesy of simplyawesome.com and the generosity of our donors. Swoop will swing by from 5:30 to 6:30, bringing his unique brand of infectious energy. More special guests could be announced at any time, so check back frequently!

We’re going to be having raffles with some great prizes, and memorabilia auctions with some very sweet stuff from a number of top players from your favorite teams. DJ K will be spinning tunes, and live musical entertainment will be provided by the rockin’ party band, Tidal Wave. A buffet-style dinner will be served, and there will be a cash bar.

Ticket prices for this event are as follows:

$30 at the door for adults, $25 pre-order
$15 for kids 13 and under at all times
$20 at the door for adults holding tickets for the Flyers game, includes re-entry after the game
$10 suggested donation after 9 PM

For information on how to purchase advance tickets, please send an e-mail to tickets@phansforhope.org.

For those of you who cannot attend but would like to make a tax-deductible donation to Phans For Hope, please send an e-mail to donations@phansforhope.org for details on how to do that.

Phans For Hope is a recognized tax-exempt public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted under federal law. Our EIN is 20-3031802.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask – you can direct all inquiries to eric.shively@phansforhope.org.


Phillies News: Blasts from the Pasts

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, October 21, 2005 08:43 AM Comments: 0

Larry Bowa has been contacted by the Yankees, mostly likely concerning their vacant bench coach position or 3rd base coach.  I bet Larry and the Boss would get along famously – just like with Billy Martin!

In other more relevant news, Mike Lieberthal had his right knee scoped on Wednesday but thankfully should be fully healed in time for Spring Training (which is only 5 months away!).  There has been talk about the Phillies shopping the 33 year old around, but a trade is unlikely for two gigantic reasons.  First, Liebs has a no trade clause since he’s been with the team for so long and second it is unlikely that anyone will want an aging catcher with rusty bionic legs.  It’s not like we have Mike Piazza on our hands who can easily transition to a designated hitter. 

Still, as much as speculating where Lieberthal could end up is an exercise in futility, that never stops us Phillies fans.  My immediate thoughts were towards sunny SoCal, where Liebs grew up.  The Dodgers would seem logical but they have a solid core of catchers in Dioneer Navarro, Russell Martin, and potentially Paul Bako; not to mention their own “Lieberthal” in the under-performing Jason Phillips.  So moving further south to San Diego, this could be a possible stop, and if not, we’ll keep peddling our wares in Tijuana where there’s sure to be some takers.  The Padres are, in fact, devoid of a veteran catcher, but also – like the Phils – are searching for GM.  So while they should be on the top of the new GM’s list for places to shop Lieberthal, I could only imagine the reaction in San Diego if their new GM announced his first move was to pick up Mike Lieberthal.  Therefore, unless the new GM lists hypnosis under the skills section of his resume, is it looks like Mike will finish his career in Philadelphia.

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