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The Dip

The Dip: Live and Let Dye Play

Posted by The Dipsy, Sat, February 20, 2010 01:28 PM Comments: 84

This is The Dip, a column penned by our regular commenter, The Dipsy.

Jermaine DyeJudging from the posts of the last few days, it appears that Philly fans don’t care much for Johnny Damon. In that case, perhaps Jermaine Dye would be more your cup of tea. It seems that ever since the economy took a header two years ago, there always seems to be a few intriguing stragglers still hanging around jobless at the start of Spring Training. This year is no exception and one of those guys working out in his basement as I write this is Jermaine Dye. While Dye is getting a little long in the tooth (turned 36 last month) he can still contribute a good amount of offense to any team he joins. The great thing about a guy like Dye right now is that he knows his best days are behind but he can still play. And if he has any competitive fire in him, he wants to prove it. And he’s sweating. Hey may get a nice multi-year contract befitting of what he feels he’s worth – or he may not. Given that it’s February 20, I don’t think it would hurt if RAJ gave Dye’s people a call to find out just what’s going on over there.

Dye is a good hitter. Through a full season he will probably give you at least 25/85/.270 (I don’t do OPS). If the Phillies express interest, perhaps they could remind Dye that he is, in fact, not signed and that maybe he should consider signing on with a probable World Series contender. Ruben could promise him 350-400 ABs and remind him that he could always try for another contract next year while also making mention of the fact that the Phillies may have a vacancy in right field. Ruben could tell him to take the $3.5m he’d be offering and to jump on board with a winner. And Dye might.

Why would the Phils do it, though? Well, here are reasons.

Dye is a righty and has played every outfield position in his career. Charlie could rotate him through the outfield, giving him two starts a week as well as every game against a tough lefty. Maybe, just maybe, if you tossed him a first baseman’s mitt he could learn how to use it. This would make the lineup much tougher against left handed pitchers.

In a season that the Phils could go to the Series, being able to have the depth to cover for a big outfield injury would be sweet. I am aware that Francisco is on the team but he’s no Jermaine Dye. Francisco will get his spot starts, lots of pinch hitting duty, as well as pinch running and defensive replacement assignments.

Then, there is the Jayson Werth issue. If for some unknown reason, the Phils are looking to trade Werth at some point, they’ll already have his replacement on the roster. I don’t care about the at bats Ross Gload is going to miss out on. He’s just another lefty on a team full of them.

In summation, Jermaine Dye may be a “distressed asset” right now – perhaps ripe for the picking at a low price, if offered by the right team, presenting the right situation. My gosh, I think I just described the Phillies. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to pick up the phone.

  • 84 Comments
 

The Dip: Pretzel Logic

Posted by The Dipsy, Sun, February 14, 2010 11:19 PM Comments: 67

This is The Dip, a column penned by our regular commenter, The Dipsy.

Contrary to popular opinion, I happen to be a big Phillies fan. But, perhaps my type of fandom flies in the face of the traditional method of rooting and team support; in that tend to criticize, loudly and resolutely, the very team that I have pledged my undying love to. Today I return to one of my cause célèbre, that being the absolute necessity that Ryan Howard be dropped to sixth in the batting order against left-handed pitching. The fact that this has not been tried already, never mind discussed, just boggles my mind.

Below is a sampling, and I seriously only went through half the teams, of how NL first basemen fared against left handed pitching last year:

Player HR/RBI/AVG
Fielder -  13/47/.292
Dunn – 7/28/.268
Helton -  1/28/.311
Votto – 7/27/.329
Howard – 6/33/.207

Joey Votto? .207! And all those mentioned above are lefties. Quite simply, Ryan’s numbers against lefties have progressively gotten worse each year to the point where his spot in the order is now the place where baserunners go to die when a left handed pitcher is on the mound.

Look, Ryan is a stud. A once-in-a-generation power hitter – an institution maybe. But the fact remains that while he is lethal against righties, he is horrible against southpaws. The disparity of performance is so marked that the whisper “he’s great but he has trouble with lefties” is one bad month away from morphing into the dreaded “can’t hit lefties” (because he can’t) moniker, and that’s hard to shake. Anyone with two eyes and watches games knows that Ryan has the plate discipline of a six-year old at a piñata party. Consequently, he sees a steady diet of head high fastballs and off speed slop that breaks five feet off the plate. So that’s what he swings at. Frankly, now that I think about it, I’m tired of analyzing the “whys”.

Just make the move. No excuses. “Ooohhh, you’ll take away his aggressiveness”. “Oooooh, who’ll drive in all those runs?”. “But, we’re paying him 20 million dollars”. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Baloney. Drop him to sixth. Let Jason and Raul hit 4-5. Jason kills lefties and Raul hits them. It will be a better lineup. We will score more runs. So, why not do it? I haven’t the faintest idea. All one needs is the courage to change.

  • 67 Comments
 

The Dip: Two Men Enter. One Man Leaves.

Posted by The Dipsy, Sun, January 24, 2010 11:29 AM Comments: 80

This is The Dip, a column penned by our regular commenter, The Dipsy.

As the Phillies resign their players at rapid pace the inexorable march towards the inevitable begins. Everybody worth resigning is signed except for two: Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth. I’m sure the Phillies front office wants to keep them both – we all do. But it looks like this season both players – friends – will be pitted against each other in the public view. In the eyes of many fans they will be playing against each other for the opportunity to stay with the Phillies for the next 4 or 5 years; while the other is jettisoned because he is unaffordable. Welcome to the Salarydome – two men enter, one man leaves. Here is the case for both.

Jayson Werth, at 31, is seemingly entering the prime of his career and last year he emerged as a bona fide power hitter. He is fast. He is a good defender with a nice arm. He can seemingly do everything well. He fits into this lineup like a hand in a glove and by all accounts he’s a great teammate and he is definitely a gamer. Some consider him injury prone, but a player can’t avoid getting hit in the wrist with a pitched ball, even if it did take him the better part of a couple seasons to recover. Financially speaking, Jayson is a bit of an anomaly. He is just starting to become a premier player at a relatively late stage in his career. When his current contract is over he will be 32 and without a big payday in his pocket. I would imagine that someone in his position would consider this his one and only shot to get the big years and big money. A five year contract would take him to 37 and I imagine, if he has a year like he did last year, that he’ll be asking for about $15m a year. God bless him, he deserves it.

Ryan Howard, on the other hand, is one of the greatest sluggers of all-time. When he is hot he can carry a team for weeks. His stats are eye-popping. We have run out of superlatives to describe his power. Yet, he is still a below average fielder (despite an improvement last season), his plate discipline stinks and he can’t hit lefties. Since he stopped taking walks and picking pitches, sometime in 2007 or so, he has become a one dimensional player. Unlike Werth, Ryan has already made a lot of money. One would think that he doesn’t feel the need to extract every ounce of his perceived worth out of the Phillies come contract time – that is, if he wants to stay here. If he wants maximum value, “no problem”, I say. Get it while you can. The problem with signing Ryan to a 5-year deal is that it would take him into his mid-thirties and at huge money. If that bat slows down in Year 3 or so, that’s a lot of money for the Phillies to live with given the production they’d be getting.

Taking everything into consideration who should Ruben sign? Ryan Howard.

Werth is a fabulous all around player who has played great for a season and a half. His right handed bat is the lightning to Ryan’s thunder. And he’s cheaper. Ryan Howard IS one dimensional, but what a dimension it is. The mere fact that he can hit a 500-foot home run at any time makes pitchers pitch differently and fielder’s play out of position. His mere presence in the four hole adds 20 points to Utley’s batting average and 10 to Werth’s. He is a game changer and the franchise along with it. He once uttered the words “just get me to the plate, fellas” in a huge spot and then knocked in the game-winning hit. To me, it’s hard to put a price tag on that kinda player. While we would spend more money, we will be a much better team than without him because, truth be told, there are more than a few Jason Werths in major league baseball. There is only one Ryan Howard.

  • 80 Comments
 

The Dip: The Needle and the Damage Done

Posted by The Dipsy, Wed, January 13, 2010 08:11 PM Comments: 37

This is The Dip, a column penned by our regular commenter, The Dipsy.

http://blogs.suntimes.com/sportsprose/assets_c/2009/10/mark-mcgwire-hitting-coach-thumb-300x300-12772.jpgSo Mark McGwire apologized for doing steroids. I guess that’s nice and I’m sure that it makes him feel better that he won’t be hounded every place he goes in his capacity as St. Louis Cardinals batting coach this season. I kinda feel bad for McGwire in a way because, in part, he is a victim. That’s right I said “victim”. The terse statement put out through his press agent merely contained an apology for something that he didn’t have say sorry for in the first place. McGwire did nothing wrong by taking steroids so he could recover from injuries, train more efficiently, and possibly acquire keener eyesight (according to Larry Bowa) so he could hit more homeruns. The only thing he did wrong was lie about it.

After the 1994 baseball strike, MLB did the stupidest thing in the world by making an owner of a baseball team the commissioner, and yes, the Brewers do count as a baseball team. Attendance was down and people were turned off. So when Bud Selig and everyone else within the inner sanctum of baseball suspected or knew that PEDs had become part of the game, they winked and kept on walking. Steroids and HGH and whatever else had been around for awhile. The Olympics had been fraught with PED’s for years. As it seeped into Major League Baseball, and more balls started flying out of ballparks and at greater distances, the turnstiles to started to smoke and the cash started to roll in. With the strike a distance memory, fans renewed their fixation with the long ball. It was in this environment, permissive and perhaps tacitly encouraged, that the slugger, armed with the knowledge that he could shoot a drug into his body to make him perform better and hit more home runs, and in turn make more money, had a choice to make. Many chose to use steroids.

Prior to 2002, when steroids were banned in baseball (the Anabolic Steroid Acts of 1990 and 2004 merely made it a crime to possess or unlawfully dispense steroids), any player was free to choose whether he wanted to use steroids or not. The only choice players had to make was whether they wanted to sacrifice their long term health in exchange for the perceived benefit the drugs would have on their game. For most players who took them, the effect was probably none. But if I’m McGwire back in 1998, knowing that MLB didn’t give a damn whether you took them or not, that they actually delighted in seeing you hit home runs as much as you enjoyed hitting them, that you would get paid more for your superior performance, I’d have done them too. No question. The only problem I have with McGwire is that, when asked, he didn’t man up from the beginning and stand behind his decision to do them.

The good times rolled, that ridiculous Sosa-McGuire-Bonds home run orgy came and went, and then, like every good scam, everyone got busted and all those complicit lawyered up. The most galling aspect of it all was MLB’s feigned surprise that this had been going on under their noses the entire time. Then, laughably, the U.S. Government suggested (strongly) that MLB put a stop to the use of steroids. Oh, how that must of hurt Bud Selig and the rest of the fellas. Not only does the golden goose get killed but they had to stick the knife in themselves. In the age of “bubbles”, the “steroid bubble” had burst.

So, here we are, after all the haggling between baseball and union, Mitchell reports, anonymous/non-anonymous player lists, juiced statistics, grand jury investigations, etc., And for the most part, I think the steroid policy that has been put in place is effective. And that’s a good thing. Now, I guess we’re left to ponder how to view what will surely become known as the steroid era in baseball. If you would wanna pick a year, say 1992, and have it generally regarded that 92-02 represents this era, that’s OK by me. I will look at most players and stats from this era with a jaundiced eye. Example: I don’t believe that Brady Anderson was drug free when he hit 50 of his 51 career homers in one season. If that is unfair to the clean players and the stats generated by them, well, that’s the way its gonna have to be. But as for McGwire, I didn’t wanna hear him say used steroids and was sorry sorry. I would have just rather him acknowledge that he’s a liar and leave it at that.

  • 37 Comments
 

The Dip: What is Done is Done

Posted by The Dipsy, Tue, January 05, 2010 06:15 PM Comments: 70

This is The Dip, a column penned by our regular commenter, The Dipsy.

Things without remedy, shall be without regard; what is done, is done.
– William Shakespeare

I offer this entry as much for me as for my humble readers. For as I put ink to paper, or contemporarily speaking – font to plasma – I do so to clarify my doubt and to pacify my own restless soul. If in this task, I can offer other heretofore bewildered Phillies fans closure to the tumult that has been holiday baseball in the Delaware Valley, I do so humbly and without expectation of recompense for the service.

As I was blogging back and forth earlier this week with “frienemies” Chuck and psujoe, I paused to contemplate anew the events surrounding the Cliff Lee trade. When I concluded my exercise I found the gnawing side stitch that has been my constant companion for these last few weeks had dissipated and that suddenly I was able to look upon spring training with a full breast and an unburdened heart. With permission, I ask to retrace old steps but with a fresh set of eyes.

Ruben wanted Roy Halladay for 4 years. We all did and Ruben got him. But in the bargain, in order to meet a payroll or replenish a farm system, he had to trade Cliff Lee. The deals were done with dispatch but raised pointed and fair questions as to the methodology utilized by Ruben. I am going to try and answer them.

Why the two trades together? I think that, armed with the knowledge that if he got Halladay he would have to get rid of Lee, he chose to trade Lee immediately, thus enabling the club to give the impression to the vast majority of the fan base that the acquisition of Halladay was in fact tied to the departure of Lee, and consequently, watering down the fan base’s disappointment of Lee leaving the team. While all of us on this site know better, Joe Average does not.

Why not hold on to Lee and trade him later for more? Once the Halladay deal is done the fans go to sleep at night dreaming of the best rotation in baseball featuring a one-two punch akin to Koufax-Drysdale. Could Ruben, in the face of a wholesale rebellion reminiscent of the storming of the Bastille, honestly put this town through a process where Ruben looks to deal Cliff for the best batch of prospects instead of the “OK’ batch he got? Could we actually stand by and watch that happen? That would have been public relations suicide. For those of you who think for a second that Ruben could have deftly worked behind the scenes to make a trade happen without word leaking out – fat chance. Also, and not to be discounted, on top of everything else, what do you tell Cliff and his agent when the Phillies have, presumably in good faith, spoken with Lee about a contract extension. You can’t bargain with the man while trying to trade him. At this point, Ruben is GM-ing with one hand behind his back – and he takes the respectable group of prospects lest this all drags out.

Why the Mariners? In order for a deal like this to go down, you need ziplocked lips by all parties. If not, the Angels get wind and jump in, then the Yankees, and whoever else. The deal falls apart because when everything goes public and it becomes a feeding frenzy. Different teams start calling Toronto about Halladay while different teams start calling us about Lee and the whole thing gets screwed up and Ruben loses Halladay. He wouldn’t let that happen. So my guess is that this deal had to pretty much been nailed down at the winter meetings with the teams agreeing to stay cool until everybody could agree on the prospects. No small task. That is where Pat Gillick comes in – and let’s face it, he’s been involved all along. The “honest broker” and “straight shooter” with strong ties to all three teams keeps things in line because each team will listen to him to varying degrees. That’s why Seattle was involved.

I have come to believe the above set of facts to be a reasonable facsimile of what actually happened and, more importantly, why it happened. I believe it, and because of my belief, I have been able to let go of my demons. I am at peace with the deal and I think that if Ruben could have found a way to keep both pitchers he would have. Go Phils.

  • 70 Comments
 

The Dip: Business is Business

Posted by The Dipsy, Tue, December 22, 2009 09:11 AM Comments: 134

The Dip is back. Welcome to another edition penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by leaving your comments.

After a six month dance comprised of equal parts fixation, stubbornness, and incompetence, Ruben Amaro finally delivered Phillies fans Roy Halladay, gift wrapped with a bow on top, just in time for Christmas. While the front office finally seemed sated, the attendant loss of Cliff Lee – in an altogether separate trade – has left many fans with a bitter taste in their mouths because most of us believe it didn’t have to happen. Fans can view the departure of Cliff Lee in a number of ways: stupid, short sighted, panic induced, and cheap spring to my mind. I view the deal as the squandering of a once in a lifetime opportunity to become one of the great teams of its era. While the fans have been told the reasons why it had to go down this way, we’re still not sure we really understand. But maybe not understanding is better, because if we knew the real reasons, we might be that much more angry.

It’s A Baseball Decision

Giving up prospects to get a really good player does serious damage to your farm system – I get it. If we were getting blue chip prospects back from Seattle I could ALMOST understand it. From all accounts they are decent prospects. To my way of thinking, you don’t trade an underpaid Cy Young winner when you’re in the middle of a string of World Series runs just so you can add players to your farm system. If the Phillies had kept Lee, the minor league talent still would have been middle of the road. But we don’t need any players from there right now, anyway.

Worried about replenishing the pipeline? If I’m not mistaken we get compensatory picks for Lee and Blanton when they leave after next season. If the plan was always to make that second trade for prospects, it would have made a helluva lot more sense to make the Halladay trade then hang on to Lee and trade him during spring training when you can get more value. Perhaps we could have even traded Blanton instead. As a baseball decision, this was a poor one. But it was more than that.

It’s a Business Decision

David Montgomery, Wharton graduate, made a statement last week that the Phillies were “already in the red”. If you’re like me, you found these remarks to be disingenuous and insulting. There are a zillion ways in accounting to measure valuation and profits and I’m sure Dave had his pick of which one he wanted to use to back up his assertion. Just for fun though, lets assume that he’s being truthful. Operating from this premise I offer the following remarks.

Baseball teams are capital assets. The money that is made goes back into the team. That is why the Skull and Bones Society that is Phiilies ownership has turned a 30 million investment into about $500 million. This is called “capital appreciation”. Montgomery thinks we have no concept of this. I have my own business and on any given day you can ask me how my revenue stream is and I can say “it sucks”. Never mind that I’ve socked away a ton into my business over the years. Yet, because of the nature of businesses and how they are set up, I can still look a guy in the eye and tell him that, at the moment, “I’m in the red”. This is what the Phillies do.

Let’s assume that the Phillies really ARE struggling financially. Given the amount of gold bullion they rake in every year on attendance, TV, concessions, advertising, merchandising, blah blah, if they can’t turn a profit, I would suggest that they are working with a flawed business model and that they need to change it. I don’t know any business (and we are talking “business” here) that would allow the guys that run it to lose them money every year…well, except the Pirates owner. As a consumer, I implore the ownership to make the appropriate personnel changes to make the club profitable so I don’t have to see another Cliff Lee fiasco in my lifetime.

At the risk of venturing into esoterica, I would call the reader’s attention to a thing in business called “branding”. It is the concept that a business utilizes, through capital expenditure, marketing, commitment to excellence in the product space, and overall product quality, to gain an additional revenue stream that can be attributed directly to its reputation – it’s what all right-thinking businesses aspire to. This revenue stream can inure to the business during poor business cycles when other competing products are more effected. Think: McDonald’s, Clorox, Gillette, iPod. In sports, think of the Cowboys, Yankees, Dodgers, Lakers, Jeff Gordon, etc. Why do you think the Cowboys have so many fans in states not named Texas and why these same fans stuck with them after the glory days of the 70′s, and when they stunk in the 80′s. Because they did everything they could to win, had great players, and did it for a long time.

If the Phillies had kept Cliff Lee and won another Series, there would be kids growing up in Nebraska as Phillies fans. Buying Phillies stuff. Flying in for Phillies games twice a year. There’s a tangible dollar value in that. Montgomery knows it yet looks elsewhere because he and his partners won’t be around in 10 years to reap that money.

When the Phillies kissed off the chance to keep Cliff Lee for another year, they sent a message to everyone that while they’d love to be in the World Series, it would have to be on their terms. That approach inspires no one. While trading Lee saves the Phillies a few bucks in the short term, they missed the opportunity to become a money-making machine in the long run that another World Series title would bring them. The chances of that happening without Lee are considerably less. And THAT’S why trading Lee is a bad business decision, too.

  • 134 Comments
 

The Dip: A Happless rotation or just a pain in the neck?

Posted by The Dipsy, Tue, September 22, 2009 02:04 PM Comments: 8

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.

With September winding down, Charlie Manuel is no doubt giving thought to setting his rotation for the playoffs. While Lee, Hamels and Blanton are the top three, the question of who will occupy that fourth spot is again very much an open question.

J.A. Happ was removed from his start the other day with a “tweak” of his oblique (that rhymes by the way). To me, “tweak” translates to “still injured” even though Happ says he feels fine. If J.A. can’t make his next couple of starts, then it looks like Pedro would be your fourth starter and J.A., I guess, would try and pitch out of the pen. Except…

Pedro was removed from his start this weekend with some sort of neck thing that he got while trying to hit. He indicated earlier this week that he “could not commit” to pitch in his next start. Words like this from a gamer like Pedro makes my ears perk up. Is it possible that he might miss his next start also? And then another one?

I hope the injuries to both of these guys clear up this week. If they don’t, then Charlie might find himself in the first week of October without knowing who is #4 is going to be. That would be bad. Waiting for medical clearance…how far can they go in a game?…is he still hurt?…pitch counts…blah, blah, blah. We can’t have this. The playoffs are no place to try and settle back in to the rotation after an injury. If there is any doubt as to Pedro’s fitness than he shouldn’t be on the playoff roster. He can’t be shortened up to relieve like Happ. If both these guys are iffy health-wise, I would put Happ in the pen (where he probably does the Phils the most good anyway). Pedro would have to be left off the playoff roster. Yes, that means Jamie Moyer is your fourth starter. I see it like this: I would rather Moyer pitch than put out a gimpy Pedro or a Happ that may not be able to go five innings.

  • 8 Comments
 

The Dip: Brad “Heartbreak” Lidge

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, September 11, 2009 02:50 PM Comments: 35

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.

There have no doubt been meetings. And conferences. Maybe even tarot card readings and exorcisms. But none have shaken Brad Lidge from the jaws of the alien that’s wrecked his season. If you’re a believer that recent past performance is the best indicator of future returns, you can’t feel too confident about Lidge “finding it” with about three weeks to go in the season. And you shouldn’t be. The numbers are mind numbing – 0-7, 7.11, 10 blown saves. Charlie has stuck with him much longer than any manager would ever have been expected too; but even Charlie doesn’t want to be the violin player on the Titanic.

Through it all, the look on Lidge’s face after each implosion has gone from that of unconcerned to confused to glazed, to at-last, shell shocked. The faster he tries to throw his fastball, the more action it loses. The more drop he tries to get on his slider, the sooner it hits the dirt. On the mound, he squeezes the ball so hard it looks like its going to explode in his hand like a egg. Brad Lidge is a burned out husk and his confidence is shot.

The problem now is what do you do with a closer that can’t close anymore? My answer is don’t pitch him at all. Why would you put the guy into any stage of a meaningful game? If he screws up the ninth, he’ll screw up the seventh or eighth as well. And let’s not see any attempts at “nurturing” him with one out saves, please. I realize that there are injuries in the pen now. Given that, one might suggest Brad could pitch some innings in the remaining games where the Phils are safely up or way down, to perhaps build a little confidence (like last night). I think Charlie would be reluctant to do that often as he might perceive it as a slight to Brad.

If Brad’s not already done as the closer – and he may not be for all we know – than surely one more blown safe would seal his fate. He’s gotta turn it around, and I mean yesterday. Short of that, I would suggest that someone else occupy his playoff spot. The playoffs are not a time to “keep working on it” and “battling” while a more capable pitcher sits at home…unless that’s where you want to be too.

  • 35 Comments
 

The Dip: The Prodigal Pitcher Returns

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, September 04, 2009 10:33 AM Comments: 23

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 Brett Myers is activated today, Phillies fans will have a month to watch one of the most vexing personalities in recent team history.  It seems like yesterday Myers was a 21-year old kid that perplexed the Chicago Cubs on a sunny day at Wrigley Field.  His stuff was electric in his debut – his fastball was fast, and his curve dropped off the table. I was convinced that the Phils had an ace for years to come.   But a funny thing happened on the way to greatness.

What exactly that “funny thing” was, is still unclear.  Through his first five years, Brett was just an “OK” pitcher.  Sure, he always sported the nice fastball and that great curve (the 12-6 curve that, when thrown properly, was one of the best pitches in baseball).  But for some reason Brett stopped evolving.  At first he was viewed as a prodigy. Then an enigma.  And lastly, after seasons of seeing one hanging curve or misplaced fastball too many, Phils fans seemed to accept Brett as the guy that would never put it all together; but hey, he wasn’t that bad either.  In short, he was a great talent and an average pitcher.

And the personal issues:  hitting his wife,  calling a reporter a “retard,” and just generally acting like a child.  Look, we all knew Brett was rough around the edges, but if he was going to act so boorishly we at least wanted him to pitch better.  Brett was on his way to becoming an underperforming jerk.

Then 2007 came along and Billy Wagner went down for the season.  Brett, with his new three-year contract in hand, volunteered to fill the bullpen spot.  He sacrificed and then he thrived.  And maybe Brett wasn’t so bad after all.  The next season however, was more of the tale of 2008A and 2008B.  The disaster of A saw him demoted to Reading and the attendant embarrassment.  When he returned he was the best pitcher in the NL (season 2008B).  Phils fans were impressed to say the least.  Perhaps finally the light had been switched on.  His at-bat in last year’s playoff game against C.C. Sabathia – where each ball he fouled off was followed by a roar from the capacity crowd – was a great postseason moment.  In the wake of the World Series victory, I think it would be fair to say that we were all starting to like Brett.

Injured at the start of this season, Brett has returned ahead of schedule from hip surgery.  Some will say he’s coming back to pitch for a contract.  I like to think it’s because he wants to help his teammates win.  And I’m a cynic! Looking ahead, maybe Brett will tap into that wellspring of talent and become that great pitcher we’ve seen glimpses of. And maybe it won’t be here.  In any event, here’s to a great potentially last month as a Phillie.  If he helps us win another World Series, he can fall out of an SUV everyday for the rest of his life if it makes him happy.

  • 23 Comments
 

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.

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