Archive for October, 2005

A Letter to the Editor

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, October 20, 2005 06:50 AM Comments: 0

So if you’re on the phillies.com mailing list, you might have received this letter from the desk of David Montgomery.  I’d like to think it was personally addressed to me, but I doubt it.  I hear it came via snail mail as well, probably to season ticket holders.  If you don’t have you’re own copy, read this one: 

Dear Brian:
On behalf of the entire Phillies organization, I want you to know that we appreciate your passion and loyalty. We know full well that without our fans there would be no Phillies baseball. I am writing to give you a brief update on ballclub matters.

As I am sure you are aware, a search for a new General Manager is underway. Our intent is to conduct a thorough and intensive search in order to select a General Manager who will get us to the postseason and bring a championship to Philadelphia.

We know that we have work to do this offseason. Getting the right person as the General Manager is step No. 1. From there, we need to make the necessary improvements to get our win total over 90 games, capture the division title, and play in the postseason.

Looking back on the 2005 season, although we didn’t achieve our goals, we believe that there were very positive signs for the future. The players played hard to the very last day in Washington. They never gave up and battled to the end for a postseason spot. Some individual performances were outstanding. Jimmy Rollins’ 36-game hitting streak during the pressure of a pennant race was a remarkable feat. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard — two young players who excelled in clutch situations and fed off the energy of our passionate fans — provided great excitement. Many other achievements and strengths could be mentioned, but we recognize there is more to do and we intend to do it.

Thank you for your support throughout the 2005 season and past seasons. Our entire organization is very appreciative of the dedication exhibited by Phillies fans. We will not take that for granted and we will work hard each and every day to earn and keep your support.

We look forward to providing you with further updates as we proceed during the offseason.

David Montgomery

Wow, he admitted the Phils failed to achieve their goals this season – something Ed Wade might not have done.  I also like that he flat out said we need to win more than 90 games.  While that certainly won’t guarantee a playoff spot, it is a definitive measure of success; and Dave, we’re gonna hold you to that, especially since you tie it to the GM search in which you are directly involved.

It is also interesting that he only mentions three players: Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley.  It was a subtle note bestowing the untouchable tag on these three players…everyone else is up for grabs! 

Although a “From the desk of David Montgomery” mass email might be superficially corny, I appreciate the show of leadership and responsibility.  But that’s just process, we need to see results in substance, meaning a quality GM with fearless yet productive offseason moves.  Though it might all just be a ploy to keep retain season ticket holders so they have the cash to pay Billy Wagner. 

It seems Wags was pleased with the Phils latest offer “They made a nice offer. It’s the one we expected would be the first offer,” said Wagner, whose price tag went from $24 million at the All-Star break to $27 million after the break, then rose to $30 million when the season ended.  You can blame Ed Wade’s incompetence for that, so there goes his $6 million severance pay.  Still Wagner is going to think it over for a while and test the market.  These players aren’t stupid, Wags knows how to play more games than just ones involving a baseball.  Too bad the Phillies front office is still at the AAA-level.

Great Breaking News: Leo Mazzone leaves Atlanta for Baltimore. Though it has yet to be confirmed in Atlanta or Baltimore, the Dirty News seems be sure the deal is done.  Finally some relief, it’s the beginning of the end for the Braves dominance!


Uggie Takes Some Hacks

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, October 19, 2005 06:40 AM Comments: 0

It has been reported in the Inquirer, the Daily News and the Venezuelan El Universal (in Spanish) that Ugueth Urbina has been involved in a machete attack on a 21 year old worker at his mother’s home as well threatening as others.  Ricardo Osal, the pool boy, was allegedly brutally attacked when Uggie and other members of his staff confronted him about a missing hand gun while he was sleeping.  After the hacking with a machete, the vigilante posse of 6 to 8 members doused the man with several flammables and set him ablaze, severely injuring his back and right arm.  Click here if you can handle seeing a picture (by Ana María Pérez).  It also appears that Urbina may have assulted other members of the group.

The latest news is still inconclusive as to Urbina’s precise involvement in the incident; however, the D.A. responsible for the case may levy charges on Uggie due to the fact the attack occurred on his property.  It is not the first time Urbina has been involved with the police.  In 2004, he was investigated for firing a gun on a crowded street in Chacao and in 2000 he was involved in a bar fight.  Also last year, Urbina’s mom was kidnapped and held for ransom - as is the style in Venezuela - so this may have entered Uggie’s mind when a handgun went missing.  I’m no expert in the Venezuelan legal system, but it might be 3 strikes and you’re out for the Phillies setup man.


Read These Articles

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, October 18, 2005 08:34 PM Comments: 0

I’ll admit, I got nothing today other than to let you know we are continuing to investigate Jim’s unnamed source to Jim Tracy.  So while Dave Montgomery’s taking his sweet ass time finding a GM, read these two posts from fellow Phillies blogs.  They are extremely interesting.

From Beerleaguer: The Phillies fielded a surprisingly efficient offense in 2005.

From The 700 Level: The now infamous temper of axed GM Ed Wade


Matt Yaloff, Our New Centerfielder

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, October 17, 2005 07:32 AM Comments: 0

Since we’re in the habit of occupational cross-overs, why not?  If you don’t already know what I’m talking about, you may have missed the Fox broadcast between the two LCS games last night.  There was Kenny Lofton smack in the middle between Jeanie Zelasko and Kevin Kennedy.  I’m not sure if that was his debut, but it was new to me.  It was disheartening to watch him go on about his experiences in the playoffs back while in Cleveland.  Because that is exactly who Kenny Lofton is and will always be remembered for: he was the Indians’ centerfield during their sustained, albeit unsuccessful, playoff run from 1995-2001 (except for the ’97 season when he was with Atlanta).  Fortunately for him, he has ridden that wave the past 4 years, though 6 different ballclubs.  Unfortunately for us, that wave has washed ashore in Philadelphia.

Sure, Kenny has the experience the Phillies lack and from what we’ve heard he’s helped Jimmy Rollins out a lot.  But I don’t like the guy.  Why? Because he has yet to come to terms with the twilight of his career.  He went from making $8 million in 2001 in the last year of his contract with Cleveland to making just over $1 million the following year in Chicago (AL).  The Phils have him on the payroll for $3.1 million, but I’m not sure if the Yankees are paying any of that.  Regardless, the pay cut in 2002 alone should have been a wake up call to him.  He often misplays balls in center because he plays at depths he used to when he was worth $8 mil.  If he can wake up and recognize his limitations and play within them, he will be a better team player and worth the spot on the Phils roster (read: bench).  Otherwise, there’s no point in keeping him around to platoon.  Although he had a decent season with .392 OBP and 22 stolen bases, there’s no improving on those numbers with each passing year.

Not that Kenny Lofton can’t help the team, but the Phils need a legitimate everyday centerfielder.  Of course, Torii Hunter’s name has surfaced this off season.  However, besides the Twins insistence that he isn’t available, the talk in both New York and Minneapolis is of him being traded to the Yankees if anyone.  So moving on, check out this trade gossip from the NY Post:

Jim Thome to the Yankees for Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright and Tony Womack. Thome is due $43.5 million over the next three years and the Yankee trio is owed $42 million. This is the crossroads of desperation and inspiration.

Ha! I like that last line.  There you go, Tony Womack could be our centerfielder.  Though my friends in New York absolutely hate the guy due to his suckiness last season, but he would be no worse than Kenny Lofton.  Plus not only has he won a World Series, we’d get two mediocre pitchers to add to our bunch AND send Thome packing! The Phils would certainly be no worse off than they are now.


More GM News

Posted by Brian Michael, Sat, October 15, 2005 08:38 AM Comments: 0

Did anyone catch Ruben Amaro, Jr. on Comcast the other night?  I was listening to 610 and they read a transcript; it was essentially pitch by Ruben to take over as the new GM.  Now, I know we’ve been talking about Ruben and his candidacy a lot here, and its not because he is a serious contender, but it’s funny because he thinks he is.  His case started with him introducing himself saying, “I’m Ruben Amaro, Jr.”  then went on to announce, “I know David Montgomery and he knows me and I know that he knows I’m qualified.”  That’s something of a paraphrase, but you should be able to immediately glean why Rubs would make for a bad GM.  The Phils will have to go outside the organization for this one, that’s pretty much a given; maybe there’s a place for Ruben in Baltimore.  When the decision will be made however is another story.

The Phillies organizational meetings are expected to be held in the coming days.  Annual planning meetings without an integral member of the front office?  That could be impractical to say the least.  But despite Monty’s claim that he’s only involved in about 15% of the day-to-day operations, he will have to take the reigns here and the spotlight.  This is a bad idea.  There is nothing more I hate in the professional world than someone assigned to a job they are not qualified for.  That’s why I didn’t like Ed Wade, Paul Abbott or several of my past bosses.  Thus, like I’ve said before, the Phils need to choose a GM first, before anything else happens.  Not only will they get the pick of the off season litter (Hunsicker is already interviewing with Tampa Bay and Jim Duquette is in Baltimore), but their business will run as it’s intended.

So, how will they choose the new GM?  That’s another question wrapped in mystery and then again in bacon.  I would love for Monty to make prospective GMs to submit a plan for the 2006 season as well as a long term strategic plan.  Over here in England, they’re big on soccer management video games – they’re like a combination of fantasy football and ‘dynasty’ mode on Madden games.  A baseball variant of this game, or at least a paper version, would make for an interesting GM assessment and show some real progressive thinking by the Phils.


Instant Replay

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, October 13, 2005 10:58 PM Comments: 0

I know we all should be focusing on the Phils and their search for a GM, but I feel compelled to ask a simple question thanks to last nights Angels White Sox game.  If you missed it, shame on you.  Just because the Phillies did not make the post season does not mean playoff baseball is not fun to watch.  Anyway there was a questionable call that allowed the Sox the opportunity to win the game in the ninth.  My question is this:

    ”Should MLB adopt instant replay to aid the umps on close calls?” 


Ruben Sits At the Big Boys Table

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, October 12, 2005 09:25 PM Comments: 1

The Billy Wagner meeting went on as scheduled.  David and Ruben caught the Acela down to Richmond and had a preliminary discussion with Wags and his agent.  According to the assistant GM, the two sides are still far apart.

“We made a proposal, received feedback, understand we have ground to cover and plan to have further discussions.”

Good, they’ve bought themselves some time to begin the search for a new GM.  While this is certainly a good move to lengthen the contract talks, a protracted negioation might cause Wagner to reconsider his options and either ask for more money or start shopping around at other clubs.  Maintaining the right balance with these dual timelines will be a crucial test left in the hands of  owner David Montgomery. 

That said, I hope he realizes that Ruben Amaro, Jr. would be a bad choice for the next Phillies GM.  You know he’s still upset over the snub in the ’93 postseason.  The speedy Tony Longmire made the roster despite playing in less than half the games as Ruben on the season.  This could be his chance to sabotage the Phils with ice cold revenge aged 12 years.  Not that he could do much harm as GM; but regardless, I’m fairly sure that Montgomery is wise enough to go with someone with a little more experience.

To keep tabs on the grab bag of other potential candidates, keep an eye on the ‘probables’ table to the left.


Search for GM Waits for Wagner

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, October 12, 2005 12:36 PM Comments: 0

Wow, in exactly the opposite of what I thought should happen, David Montgomery will pause the search for Ed Wade’s replacement until after the meeting with Billy Wagner.  Marcus Hayes reports Wagner is searching for a 3-year, $29 million deal with a no-trade clause.  Hmm, I coulda swore that figure was $27 million last week.  Hayes’ colleague Rich Hoffman, however, supports making the search for a new GM deal the Phillies top priority of the off-season.  The Phils need to sign a GM soon and spare us the charade of last year’s managerial interviews.  The New York newspapers still see Cashman leaving on October 31, when his current contract expires.  Ohh, imagine a Halloween night press conference at the Citizen’s Bank Ballpark.  All the players could wear costumes; they could all go as a baseball team!


Ding Dong the Witch is Dead..Which Old Witch…the Wade Witch!

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, October 11, 2005 11:22 AM Comments: 0

I apologize for the delay in my post, but I was tied up with a charity event yesterday.  In fact, I would have had no idea that the Phillies made a move if it was not for a friend of mine texting my cell with the info.  Needless to say that when I came back into work this morning there were at least 3 emails form three different people alerting me of the news (isn’t it great how us cubicle workers are so dedicated to excellence on our jobs that we have time to surf the net all day for news exactly like this). 

I have to applaud the Phillies for finally making this move, but I must admit that I still have no confidence in this team to make the right decision on who should be the next GM.  Lets take a closer look at how this all played out.  First they waited till Monday October 10th to fire Wade.  Monty tells us that it was the 18 inning thriller between the Astros and the Braves that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Is that saying that if the Braves had won that series with a big win in 9 on Sunday that Wade would still be here?  And what if the Phillies had made the playoffs and lost in the first round?  It would have been more of Wade.  Yesterday was the only decision that Monty and the Phillies brass could have made if they wanted any fans in CBP next year.  I hate to compare it to this, but I can imagine that it was like when you have to throw away that favorite tee shirt after its been around too long and had has to many stains.  You know you don’t want to, but if you want anyone to respect you it must be done.  

I also contend that this firing was timed to coincide not with the Astros Braves result, but instead with the fact that the Eagles have a bye week this week.  I think that the Phillies brass hates that the Eagles get all the talk in this town.  Now I tend to agree that the Eagles talk can become too much, but I have no control over this.  The Phillies do, all they have to do to get the talk that the Birds do is win.  My guess is that they made this announcement so as the media and fans will talk about them even though they failed to make post season play again this year. 

Finally, if they hire Arbuckle or Amaro Jr it may be worse then keeping Wade.  They must destroy the image they have of being an organization that simply takes care of the people with in it.  They need a change in attitude that can only come from an outsider.  The other obstacle the Phils face is that I am sure they are going to require the new GM keep Manuel and his staff on board and they may be hard pressed to find a legit GM that wants to go along with this.  Whatever happens the new guy must be brought in soon so as to clean up this mess that hurricane Wade left behind.   


Phillies Fire Ed Wade

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, October 11, 2005 06:58 AM Comments: 0

On Monday, the Phillies finally pulled the trigger and fired Ed Wade as general manager.  There is much rejoice in Fire Ed Wade land, also known as the Philadelphia metropolitan area (and parts of London).  The move had to be made and I’m glad Monty had the courage to do it.  It portrayed his decision making ability as a stark contrast to what we have seen under Ed Wade’s tenure.  But a bit dissapointing was the catalyst that sealed Wade’s fate.  It was not his track record of bad trades or dearth of leadership deficiencies, rather it was a vision of the Phillies playing ball in October.

Montgomery said he’d been contemplating the move for some time, and he made the decision as the Astros were finishing off the Braves in an 18-inning thriller. He called Wade on Monday and requested a meeting.

“I think he did a good job. At the same time, he’s been our GM for eight years. It was frustrating to watch 18 innings last night and know we were a game or two away from that opportunity ourselves.”

Wow, how ironic.  I guess we should thank the Astros for edging us in the wild card.  Without that, we would almost certainly have Wade on for another year or two.  Funny how things work out.

So looking ahead, the interview committee has plenty of resumes to review.  Here are the most likely candidates:

Ruben Amaro Jr. – current Phillies assistant GM
Mike Arbuckle – current Phillies assistant GM
Gerry Hunsicker – former Astros GM, Pennsylvania native
Pat Gillick – former Blue Jays and Mariners GM 
John Hart – former Indians and Rangers GM
Brian Cashman – current Yankees GM
Theo Epstein – current Red Sox GM
Chris Antonetti – current Cleveland assistant GM

An Inquirer poll puts Brian Cashman in the lead, most likely due to his obvious displeasure working for the Steinbrenner and expected departure from the Bronx.  Furthermore, Newsday claims the ”opening would be a natural for Cashman“.  However, it seems like Ruben Amaro Jr. will be taking over interim duties as he, along with Montgomery, are expected to meet with Billy Wagner on Wednesday to discuss resigning the closer.  I definitely think the Phillies should wait until a new GM is hired before they resign Wagner.  Certain moves will have to be made this off season and Wagner may be a part of them.

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