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The Dip: Chase Utley – Greatest Phillie of All Time?

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, August 28, 2009 10:55 AM Comments: 97

This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by leaving your comments.

When we think of the greatest players of all time we shouldn’t go by pure stats for often they leave a canvas half painted.  There have always been players whose greatness transcends the confines of mathematical computation.  Players like Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson, Derek Jeter, and even Curt Schilling come to mind.  All have stats, but all also brought something important and out of the ordinary to the game that others didn’t.

Chase Utley is not in the same class as the players listed above.  But if he and the Phillies perform at current pace for another 5 seasons, he will be.  How would history view a World Series winning second baseman who averaged 30 HRs 100 RBIs 100 Rs with a .300 AVG over the span of 10-12 years? The answer would be with a trip to the Hall of Fame, and depending on how long he can extend his career, recognition as the greatest second baseman of the last 70 or so years.  Better than Sandberg.  Better than Morgan.  High praise.

Thoughts:  Utley does not play out of position at second base.  Unlike guys like Jeff Kemp and Alfonso Soriano, who are hitters that can play second base, he is a natural second baseman who excels at fielding his position.  He is a brilliant baserunner.  He is regarded as the heart and soul of one championship team and should have opportunities to win more.  He is the leader of his team and does whatever it takes to win a game.  Although he might make an occasional error, he rarely does anything inherently wrong on a baseball diamond.  He plays with the headiness befitting a Jackie Robinson.  He exudes the quiet class of Derek Jeter (parade comments notwithstanding) while playing with Pete Rose’s earthiness and grit.  This is not a man crush – this is just reality.

The Phillies have had great players.  Steve Carlton was brilliant but strange.  Schmidt, arguably the greatest to play his position, was aloof, off-putting and too casual for many – that’s his curse.  Utley is a better player than Ashburn and history has obscured the memory of Ed Delahanty.  Utley’s got the game, the attitude, the ring, and the respect of all with whom he plays.  He even loves animals. There has never been a player like him here and the fans adore him like no other that has come before. Philadelphians finally have the player they’ve always wanted – and that’s why he just may turn out to be the greatest Phillie of all time.

  • 97 Comments
 

The Dip: An Eye to the Future

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, August 21, 2009 10:05 AM Comments: 71

This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by visiting our contact page.

It’s almost September and with the division reasonably in hand, Phillies fans may be tempted to allow their minds to wander towards the postseason and the Phils chances. OK. I know some of you think that is bad luck with so much baseball yet to be played. But I’m a chance-taker so lets do it anyway. These are one man’s thoughts about the Phillies and the playoffs (Note: when I was growing up, we didn’t have catchy acronyms like “LCS” and such, they were just called “the playoffs”).

The Rotation
I think the playoff rotation should be as follows: Lee, Blanton, Hamels, Happ. For those of you who didn’t know that Lee was an ace when he got here, you know now. Blanton getting the #2 spot over Hamels is counter-intuitive until you realize that Blanton has been a rock for months. A 3.88 ERA in this day and age is nothing to sneeze at; plus starting Blanton after Lee sets up a righty-lefty combo at the top of the rotation. This is important because the Pujolses and the Ramirezes of the world, and the lineups surrounding them, are primarily righties. Yes, Cole was great in the postseason last year but he’s got issues this year. It goes without saying though that if Cole gets it together, he slides to #2.

The Lidge Problem
If Brad Lidge doesn’t straighten out soon and Ruben can’t find a replacement, Charlie is eventually gonna have to stop sticking with “his guy”. The Phils might be forced to go with a “bullpen by committee” based on late-inning match-ups. Romero and Erye, and possibly Moyer, would give the pen three lefties which would make a committee set up a lot easier to do. Don’t get me wrong, Lidge will probably still be the primary guy to shut it down, but if he comes into the 9th with one out to go, and the opposing team goes to a lefty, and Romero or Eyre haven’t been used yet…

The Bench
In the postseason, eventually every wart on your team becomes exposed sooner or later. That said, Francisco, Dobbs, and Stairs, despite his poor showing of late, should be fine. But you just can’t have two guys hitting below .200 on your bench – period. Bako will stay because he’s the backup catcher. That leaves Bruntlett. The only reason one would actually REALLY need this guy is if Rollins or Utley go down. So If I’m Amaro, I DL him on about August 25 and replace him with a player of any position that can hit better than a 7-year old child. This move would make that hitter eligible for the postseason roster while Bruntlett remains eligible as an injury replacement if the above nightmare scenario occurs. Whew. That’s done.

Questions loom, but there is time. Every team has to tinker between now and September 1. That righty middle-infielder type that can hit .250 would nice. As would another sold lefty arm for the pen. I trust Ruben. But one last thing: Watch out for those Redbirds.

  • 71 Comments
 

The Dip: Love Means Having To Say You’re Sorry

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, August 14, 2009 09:15 AM Comments: 70

This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by visiting our contact page.

Old Man and the Sea of FansI happened to be logging on to Phillies Nation Tuesday when the word hit of Jamie’s comments to the press regarding his removal from the rotation. My first reaction saw my brow go white hot while my fingers went a blur across my keyboard so that I could register my outrage as quickly and unambiguously as possible. I, as well as others, were unhappy to say the least about Jamie’s comments. But as is almost always the case, sitting back and letting things cool off a bit, and trying to look at things objectively, is the best course.

Let’s start by recognizing there are really two Jamie Moyers. There is the local boy who made good. The man who has quietly gone about plying his craft while getting the most out of his God given abilities. An experienced voice in the clubhouse and mentor to young players. He is a humble man who has selflessly gives his time outside of baseball as caretaker of the Moyer Foundation along with his wife. It’s the worthiest of causes and people actually trample themselves to donate their time to help these children. I think Philly fans feel an emotional connection to who Jamie is and how he lives his life.

When you extract all of the above, which is easier for some than others, you get the other Jamie Moyer. This Jamie Moyer exists only in the here and now, and only between the lines of a baseball field. In 2008, Jamie had a stellar year. While many, including myself, felt that 2008 was not representative of the level of pitching we should expect in the coming years, Ruben signed him to a two year, 13 million dollar contract. Jamie’s style of pitching is unnerving, cumbersome, and often inconsistent. Add to the mix his stats and his age and you get a fan base that can be divided over his precise worth to the team.

I get the sense that because so many love one part of Jamie, it makes it more difficult for some of us to objectively quantify the other part, his performance on the field. Others are quite sure of what they see on the field and don’t really care about his “intangibles”. This creates conflict and division. That’s just the way it is.

2009 started terribly for Jamie, and Ruben reached out for Pedro Martinez. His presence, and the emergence of J.A. Happ, has left Jamie the odd man out of the rotation. While Jamie has had “pockets of effectiveness” the last two months, Ruben felt the need to keep Pedro coming, rightly or wrongly, and now he’s here. When Jamie got the news he was going to the pen he was understandably upset and apparently pretty raw. I don’t think anyone would fault him for giving voice to his disappointment. But what happened Tuesday was beyond the pale.

While sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley field before an assemblage of beat writers and others, he expressed his unhappiness. OK, that’s fine. But then he continued. In measured and soft spoken tones, Moyer went on to accuse Amaro of duping him into signing his contract by “assuring” him that he would always stay in the rotation. People can pick through the transcript to their heart’s content, but in the margins between his proclamations that he wished not be a distraction (which he now is), and that he would deal with the decision in a respectful way (which he didn’t), the message was clear: Ruben screwed me.

Ya see, Jamie popped off. He has now cast aspersions on Ruben’s integrity and has probably created a degree of alienation between himself and the front office, and without question, some fans. Count me among them. Don’t forget, this is not Ed Wade we’re talking about. Ruben Amaro has done a fantastic job as GM and most fans have his back on this one.

As I see it, in an off-season that included no mad rush to sign Jamie to a decent contract, Amaro gave him a lucrative one that included a guaranteed second year. I suspect that this was based in no small measure on his professionalism, character, as well as his past performance for the team. Tuesday, he set aside those very same qualities and talked smack about the GM that has been very good to him. Shame on him. Next on Jamie’s agenda should be to issue a half-hearted apology (or a sincere one if he can muster it) so we can all let bygones be bygones. After all, Jamie has earned the right to make a mistake.

  • 70 Comments
 

The Dip: A Prescription For Southpawitis

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, August 07, 2009 08:00 AM Comments: 95

This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by visiting our contact page.

My view of patriotism is not standing idly by and supporting your country no matter what decisions are made and what actions they take, but to also give voice, sometimes at very high volume, to things we do that I think are completely screwed up. I do this not because I want people to hear me shout but because I want to try and help make things better.

I feel the same way about the Phillies and Ryan Howard. I love Ryan Howard but he should be pulled from the four hole against lefties — until and unless he starts to hit them with just a modicum of success. The numbers I am about to show you will shock you, so please keep kids away from the computer at this time. Batting average is the first number and OPS is the second.

Against LHP:

2007
Howard: .225/.976
Ibanez: .256/.650
Werth: .375/1.058

2008
Howard: .224/.746
Ibanez: .305/.866
Werth: .303/1.020

2009
Howard: .179/.558
Ibanez: .305/1.055
Werth: .306/1.455

Ryan Howard’s performance against lefties is abhorrent and the reasons are familiar to every game watcher. He has no plate discipline (he swings at the first pitch almost every time, and if not, he watches a first-pitch strike, then swings at the second pitch). He swings at every pitch as if it’s thrown at 100 miles per hour. He then gets behind in the count and ends up striking out on the pitcher’s pitch, which is an out-of-the-strike-zone curve or slider. And then he walks back to the dugout with a bewildered look on his face. But here’s one man’s Rx:

Drop him to sixth against lefties. Tell him to not swing at the first pitch under any circumstances. If its a ball, which it mostly is, that gets him to 1-0 and then he can gear up for the fastball. If he doesn’t get a fastball in his zone to hit, don’t swing. His goal then is to either: walk or hit a fastball. If he strikes out — well, he’s doing that now. The hope would be that he would get his head out of his — you know — and to foster better plate discipline. We know he can hit lefties. He did it in 2006.

This move also serves another purpose: It makes the 4/5/6 in the order (against LHP) Ibanez, Werth, Howard. It gets your better hitters more at bats, adding the feature of splitting the lefties up so late in games Werth will get more lefties to hit.

Let me reiterate that I love Ryan Howard, but he has really got to get it together in this area. I cannot believe that Charlie Manuel has these statistics at his fingertips and has not at least given this option serious thought. I am not worried about taking away Howard’s aggressiveness. In fact, that is exactly what I am trying to do. Hey, I’m just here to help.

  • 95 Comments
 

The Dip: Brett Myers: The Return of the Native

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, July 31, 2009 09:30 AM Comments: 118

This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by visiting our contact page.

Amongst all the hubbub surrounding the Cliff Lee acquisition, the Phils find themselves sitting on a potential treasure trove of arms to employ for the stretch run to the pennant (it used to be called “pennant”, I’m not sure what its called now). While J.P. Ricciardi cleans out his desk Saturday morning, victim of what l call a “Ruben Sandwich,” Charlie Manuel will be sitting in a locker room somewhere trying to think of a way to fit six, soon to be seven, and not long after that, eight (!) pitchers into his starting rotation. That eighth pitcher will almost assuredly be Brett Myers, showing up late to the party, but there nevertheless.

If things go as The Dipsy predicts (in honor of Ricky Henderson’s induction into the Hall of Fame, I am referring to myself in the third person), Happ will go to the bullpen (a shame), Lopez will be traded for a minimal return and Martinez and Moyer will be your No. 4 and 5 starters, not necessarily in that order. Easy enough, I guess, until Myers is done his rehab stints and shows up at Citizens Bank Park pronouncing himself cured and ready to pitch. And that talented right arm has to go someplace.

BrettIn 2008, Myers was one of the best starters in baseball after he came back from his electroshock therapy in Reading. He went long into games, moved his fastball in the zone, and his curveball bit and didn’t hang. In short, he was great, and the Phils would not have reached the World Series without him. The season prior, Myers was unexpectedly thrust into the role of closer and thrived with 21 saves while averaging more than 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings. The guy has shown he can close.

What happens when Myers returns will hinge on what happens with Martinez. If Martinez can’t hack it, Myers slides into his spot and Martinez goes to the pen. If Martinez is pitching reasonably well, he will serve as the righty starter to balance out the rotation, and Myers will pitch in relief. Then it becomes interesting. I would love to see the “Bridge to Lidge” include Myers flashing his old form and effectively holding things down anywhere from the sixth to eighth innings, with the switch over to J.C. Romero as needed, then right into Ryan Madson. Then Lidge in the 9th.

While all of this this sounds great In theory, it can’t work unless Lidge has it together. As of now he does not. And he has a history a “crisises in confidence.” If September comes with Myers pitching well and Lidge struggling, and we all hope that won’t happen, I would expect Manuel to dispense with the “I’ll stick with my horse” or “I’ll dance with girl that brung me” crap and make the switch to Myers. Playoff baseball is no place to wait for a guy to find his stuff. Myers runs to pressure. And he needs a contract next year. I think he’ll be primed. We want Brett Myers to pitch well. We all want Brad Lidge to pitch well. But most of all, we want the best guy on the mound to close games.

  • 118 Comments
 

The Dip: The “Genius” of J.P. Riccardi

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, July 24, 2009 11:30 AM Comments: 192

This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by visiting our contact page.

J.P. RiccardiIn 2001, the Toronto Blue Jays hired J.P. Riccardi to be their general manager with the thought of utilizing his ability to mine low-priced talent from other clubs, as well as employing the statistics driven draft strategy popularized by his mentor, Billy Beane, in the hopes of fielding a competitive ball club while employing a lower salary structure. Given Toronto’s expectations, it surprised a lot of people when Riccardi started signing players to pricey, long-term contracts. These signings included:

  • An eight-year, $90 million contract for third baseman Scott Rolen, which pays him $11M both this year and 2010.
  • A seven-year, $69.35 million contract to Alex Rios, which pays him $9.7M in 2010 and $12M for 2011 and 2012.
  • A three-year $40 million dollar contract to Roy Halladay, which pays him $14.2M this year and $15.75M in 2010.
  • A seven-year, $126 million contract to Vernon Wells, which including bonuses, calls for him to be paid $21M in 2010, $23M in 2011, and basically, on and on like that until the end of time.

Riccardi spent money like a drunken sailor, and now he owes five players (when you include Lyle Overbay’s $7 million contract) a total of $64.47 million for 2010. And the Jays are not a great team.

Now Riccardi is entertaining, in a very serious way it seems, trading a national treasure in Roy Halladay. He is doing it because he has to dump payroll, or because Halladay has demanded a trade so he can go win and get paid. Riccardi set about the process of dealing Halladay by cagily announcing to the world that Halladay was available. I think when a team announces that they are looking to trade arguably the best pitcher in the game, it’s a sign that the team has some problems. And Toronto does. Toronto’s payroll is stained and Halladay is the only high-salaried player the Jays can get rid of. It would also surprise no one if Halladay, at the height of his powers, yet faced with continued losing and no contract extension on the horizon, has just decided that he wants out. Whichever it is, Riccardi’s announcement that Halladay was on the block should have had other teams smelling blood.

Then, Riccardi started to talk. A lot. How much he needs to be “overwhelmed” in a deal for Halladay. How teams need to “step up” to get Halladay. Floating rumors that there is a deal in place for Halladay. (Who do you REALLY think was behind that Mets story?) He was like one of those little kids at Buckingham Palace who jumps up and down and makes funny faces trying to make the guard blink or twitch his face. So much for playing hard to get.

Tuesday we learned from Riccardi that the Jays have imposed a “self-imposed” deadline for trading Halladay of July 28. The reason given was, get this, “it wouldn’t be fair to Roy to have him go into his last start before the deadline with trade talks looming over him” or some such rot. Huh? The only thing that wouldn’t be fair to a pitcher making $14 million a year is to take his pitching arm and run it through a meat grinder. That would be about it. On Wednesday, he caught no one by surprise when he revealed that the deadline he mentioned the day before was actually a “soft” date. No kidding.

I don’t know what will happen with Halladay. But if the Jays do end up selling short it will be due in no small part to Riccardi’s inability to keep his mouth shut, and Riccardi will almost surely be fired. Throughout this whole process he’s made the Blue Jays seem vulnerable and unleveraged. Never mind that they actually are vulnerable and unleveraged, thats not the point. I think that part of being a general manager is having a little poker player in you so when you’re butt is in a sling, you can portray or spin it into to something other then weakness, and sometimes even make it look like strength. Acting arrogant and shooting off your mouth does not achieve this effect. Jackie Chan, Riccardi is not. He’s had his nose open the whole time in this. But then again maybe he’s crazy like a fox, and he’s gonna make me look stupid by walking off into the sunset with half of a team’s farm system, only to be hailed again by baseball people as the true genius he knows himself to be.

  • 192 Comments
 

The Dip: “Project Wells”: Lunacy or Visionary?

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, July 17, 2009 03:00 PM Comments: 64

This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by visiting our contact page.

“If you will it, it is no dream”
- Theodor Herzl

In every tap room, at every water cooler and on every radio show, it seems the Delaware Valley is concocting ways to to get Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays in time to win another World Series. While every manner and combination of minor league prospects going to Toronto in exchange for Halladay has been discussed, perhaps the real key to the Blue Jays heart resides not in Lehigh Valley or Reading but in the sizable depths of the Phillies wallets.

I say here that Blue Jays General Manager J.P. Ricciardi, has bigger fish to fry than getting maximum value in return for his pitching superstar, and that is to rid Toronto’s payroll of Vernon Wells’ salary. In fact, this initiative has become so important that is referred to by the Toronto brass and other Jays’ insiders as simply: “Project Wells.”

In December 2006, Vernon Wells signed a seven-year, $123 million dollar extension to stay with the Blue Jays through 2014. A fan favorite and staple of the Jays’ lineup at the time, his contract now calls for him to be paid as follows: 2008:$0.5M, 2009:$1.5M, 2010:$12.5M, 2011:$23M, 2012:$21M, 2013:$21M, 2014:$21M with a no-trade clause and player opt-out in 2011 (insert laugh track here). And, as you may have guessed, during the life of this extension his productivity has decreased as his salary has risen. Dramatically. In short, Wells has officially achieved “toxic asset” status and must be moved, somehow, someway, if Ricciardi has any hopes of keeping his job. He knows it and now we know it. I think the most effective way for the Phils to land Halladay, for now and for the future, would be to take Wells off the Jays’ hands at the same time.

Here’s how it would work. The Phillies would offer a package of prospects like Lou Marson and Jason Donald (Why are their names always mentioned in the same breath?) and a Carlos Carrasco or a Andrew Carpenter. In exchange we would take Halladay and Wells with Toronto paying half of his salary. If I’m doing my math right, that saves the Blue Jays, with Halladay’s 2010 salary factored, right around $65M over the next five years. Therein lies the true motivation for the Blue Jays. While making a deal like this does not give them maximum return on Halladay, it would go a long way toward digging themselves out of the payroll hell in which Ricciardi single-handedly put them. Quite simply, I think it’s more important to Toronto to free up that money than hold out and squeeze the last ounce of value for Halladay in a separate deal.

The Phils would do it because they would have a deal in place to move Wells to a team that needs a good outfielder and will pay $5-6M a year for him. That means the Phils would have to eat $20-$25 million worth of Wells’ contract through 2014, but they would also keep their prized farm system intact. In short, the Phils need not choose between the present and the future. They can buy both of them.

Creative? Unorthodox? Just plain crazy? Don’t tell me deals like this have never been done (Mike Hampton). Don’t tell me no one would want Wells at $5M or $6M. Don’t tell me the Phils don’t have the money, because they are making it hand over fist, and that’s a fact. It all seems so easy as I sit in my armchair and write this up … and it may not be. But tell me, why is it so hard?

  • 64 Comments
 

The Dip: Stench On The Bench

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, July 10, 2009 12:00 PM Comments: 50

This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by visiting our contact page.

BakoNow that he hysteria over the rotation has settled to a dull roar, be it temporary or otherwise, the main concern for the Phillies as they head into the shank of the season should be the wretched state of their bench play. Quite simply, the bench stinks and particularly from the right side of the plate. Don’t get me wrong, I know that bench guys are on the bench for a reason, and that is that they’re not good enough to start. With this in mind let’s take a look at the guys currently riding the pine:

Greg Dobbs (LHB): After a slow start, he’s hot. He’s a pro hitter and can play corner outfield and third. I would like to see Charlie work him in twice a week (once for Feliz, once for Werth) when Ibanez gets back. A credit to any bench.

Matt Stairs (LHB): Yes, he’s earned a place in Phils lore for his homer last year, and we love him. But damn, he can’t field a position or run, and he admittedly tries to homer on every swing. A nice luxury on a team with a well-rounded bench.

Chris Coste (RHB): One of three catchers on the roster (at the moment). The lead right-handed pinch hitter off the bench (how scary is that?) sometimes gets burned up too early in a game when a righty hitter is needed in a clutch RBI situation. This leads to the need for …

Paul Bako (LHB): Just let that name roll off your tongue and savor that rich flavor. He can’t hit. I have no idea whether he’s supposed to be a good fielder. But hey, 22 other major league teams couldn’t have been wrong, so maybe its me.

John Mayberry (RHB): The best thing you can say about Mayberry now is that he’s right-handed. I really don’t think its fair to take a kid who needs to play and stick him on the bench and ask him to do one of baseball’s hardest jobs, which is to pinch hit. And he’s not doing it well. One might ask if I can think of anyone better to use and I would say “you mean someone that can play outfield and hit over .205?” Its not his fault, and Ruben Amaro shouldn’t have him here.

Eric Bruntlett (RHB): He’s hitting an almost inconceivable .141 this season, down from .217 last season. Any attempt to reach the “Mendoza Line” would result in a case of the bends. To say he has no place on this team is belaboring the obvious. I don’t care how many positions he plays.

The bench is ill conceived and poorly managed by Amaro. The bench righties are hitting .248, .205 and .141. These are not “better” hitters that are just slumping. Mayberry and Bruntlett are not major league hitters but Amaro keeps them here. I can find a utility infielder that bats over .230. Just give me a phone and an ATM card. And for God’s sake, let Mayberry go back to triple-A so he can learn to hit on Lehigh Valley’s dime, not ours. If Amaro can add a couple of good righty bats then the dominoes will fall, and in a good way. Coste frees up to be the backup catcher and Bako and Bruntlett can leave. And please, no hollering about how hard these guys are to find. Amaro is probably going to get these guys near the trade deadline, as throw-ins or otherwise, but for right now there is definitely “a stench on the bench.”

Halladay In?

I have no idea what it would take to get Roy Halladay, but I know if Ruben Amaro wanted to put something together, he should offer one package for Roy Halladay and another one for Roy Halladay who signs a contract extension, and Drabek does not get included in the former. Beware the unknown variable: The New York Mets. If they got somehow got Halladay they’d become the favorites to win not only the East but the whole National League.

  • 50 Comments
 

The Dip: A Broadcasting Plan For The Future

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, July 03, 2009 01:30 PM Comments: 44

This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by visiting our contact page.

tmacWhat should have been a joyous beginning to a World Series defense was instead replaced by a blow to the solar plexus of every Phillies fan with the death of Harry Kalas. As the dust continues to settle and we go about trying to put it all behind us, there are still games to be played, and those games are called by men on TV and radio. And I wanted to take this this opportunity to pick through the rubble (and the rabble) of what is left behind the microphones.

The players

Tom McCarthy. Phillie-turned-Met-turned-Phillie was groomed to be Kalas’ replacement and now that time is here. T-Mac finally got called in from the bleachers and has proven himself to be a capable play-by-play man. While many don’t care for him much, his voice is smooth enough and his delivery is glitch-free. I get the feeling that other teams would take him if offered. Just don’t put the camera on him too often.

Chris Wheeler. Company man turned color analyst has been a fixture on the broadcasts since forever. He has a strong command of baseball fundamentals and in-game strategy (just ask him). Equally famous for his toupee and run-ins with fellow broadcasters as for his phrase-making, which has become legend among fans (“They’re in a no
doubles defense” … “He’s looking for something middle-in”).

Gary Matthews. Nicknamed “The Sarge” from his playing days, Matthews displays a folksy manner while lending a firm grasp of the obvious to the broadcast. He can be a bit eccentric at times. While somewhat enigmatic, there are those who insist he adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the telecast.

Scott Franzke. Our play-by-play man on radio is a solid broadcaster. He delivers the action in an heartier manner than McCarthy. A Franzke-Anderson broadcast has an earthy feel that the television broadcast does not. In his 30s, Scott may be a little young yet to push for the top job. He also wears weird eyeglasses.

Larry Anderson. Like the Sarge, our color analyst on radio is a former Phil. Those who can get past L.A.’s lazy delivery, will find a quality analyst with a dry wit. He can be a bit esoteric and is an acquired taste for some. Nevertheless, the banter between he and Franzke makes it clear the two enjoy working together and the camaraderie between the two creates an enjoyable broadcast.

Analysis

On TV, there is no chemistry between McCarthy and Wheeler whatsoever. While McCarthy is technically fine, his impersonal delivery fosters a teflon-like personality on air. While by all accounts a nice man, if you had a beer with the guy you’d be bored stiff inside of 10 minutes. Wheeler sits in the booth like a haughty gargoyle pontificating on baseball’s finest nuances to the point where everything has been analyzed into dust. It’s obvious that years of riding in the back of airplanes with players has taught him the game of baseball. My problem lies with the fact that he never played.

For this reason I can’t take him seriously as a baseball man. A McCarthy-Wheeler broadcast tends to be cold and antiseptic. It also doesn’t help that the pitch of their voices occupy the same range, leaving the telecast short of any “auditory contrast” (this is a long way of saying that they sound the same).

The Sarge. Ah, the Sarge. Yes, he belabors the obvious sometimes. Yes, he references domestic luxury cars too often after a Phillies homer. Yes, he wears funny hats. But he knows the game and I find his eccentricities charming. He has revealed to his audience that no matter how hard he tries, he simply cannot get drunk when there’s a full moon. On one occasion he referred to a young pitcher in a tight spot as being “puckered up in the rear-end area.” Sometimes he just says stuff that makes me laugh like hell. I like him. Do I wish he were Mitch Williams or perhaps Ricky Botallico? Perhaps. But I think he’s fine.

The call

Yes, Wheeler is that bad, but the Phillies are known to be intensely loyal, so he’s not going anywhere. Since “Wheels” has to stay, put him on during the middle innings with McCarthy. If feathers get ruffled you can tell one or both to take it or leave it. On TV, I’d recommend a move to a three-man booth with Franzke, Sarge and Anderson. Franzke calls a better game than McCarthy, plain and simple. I think the interplay between the two genuine oddballs, Matthews and Andersen, would provide good analysis and make for a few belly laughs as Franzke mans the rudder.

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