Then, there's Larry Bowa. Bowa is a pretty good guy. Maybe not quite as "user friendly" as Francona, but he is certainly a good guy. He is also a guy with a fire and an attitude. He always had it and always should. It's part of who he is. In 2001, Larry Bowa wasn't such a nice guy. He is one of – if not the main – reasons why Scott Rolen wanted out. Admittedly, Bowa's style doesn't work for everybody and Rolen was a casualty. Still, it's worth it if Bowa's style gets the Phillies to win. After all, Bowa learned from one of the best at being gruff and pushing an attitude when he played for Dallas Green.
So, why is Bowa suddenly more like Terry Francona and less like Dallas Green? Instead of the Larry Bowa that pushed his team in 2001, we get stuff like "the guy is just struggling right now." What? That's Franconese for "boy, I wish I could bench the guy, but he might get mad and Ed Wade may not like it, either." I want Larry Bowa to become Dallas Bowa. It was 1980 when Green uttered the now famous phrase "If I keep yelling and screaming, eventually, they'll start listening."
Larry Bowa – or someone – has to go postal. Someone needs to trash the clubhouse, tip over the post-game buffet table, lock the clubhouse doors and see who comes out alive. This team isn't getting it! I'm all for being a nice guy and stroking egos, but enough already. Time has come for an eruption of Mount Bowa. Let the benchings begin and not for one or two games, either. The Phillies players need to know that salary or length of contract or what you've done in the past doesn't matter. It's all about now and it's all about winning.
The other night with the Mariners in town, Larry Bowa admitted that he thought about pinch-hitting for Pat Burrell. Don't think about it, do it. Send the message and send it loud and clear. If their egos can't handle it, just think about how your ego will handle it if this team sinks further and further and you're joining the ranks of bench coaches again, Larry.
There are several changes that Bowa could make right away, that would open a few eyes.
- The other night after Jose Mesa hung a nice, fat curveball to Mike Cameron after two unsuccessful bunt attempts and Cameron won the game for Seattle, Bowa said. "Jose made a bad pitch. He is still our closer." That quote should have been. "Mesa and Lieberthal both know that you can't throw a curve in that spot and there is no excuse for it. If Jose doesn't have the mentality to go right at a hitter and blow him away, then I'll find someone else to close."
- Larry Bowa keeps giving lip service to how Jason Michaels could be a solid everyday player. Jason, get your glove and go to left field. For the next ten days, you are starting in left. Pat, you go call Mike Schmidt and try to figure out what the hell you're doing wrong.
- Pull Bobby Abreu into the managers office and have a man-to-man. The script would be something like this: "Bobby, I need you to leadoff. This team needs you to leadoff. I know you don't like the idea, but you can truly dominate from that spot. When you get on base, don't look for a steal sign, take off whenever you want. Show this team what a leader you are, take one for the club and get us fired up." Abreu truly could be a big threat as a leadoff man and needs to see that at least for now, this is the time.
- Put Marlon Byrd in center field every day. You make a quiet deal with him. He will play everyday, but you want to see progress from him. Not just in the stats, but in how he looks on the field. Byrd has shown signs of coming out of his slump and needs to be given the chance. Let him know that if he fails, it's not the end of the world. Talk to him about how Mike Schmidt failed miserably in his early days as a Phillie. Let him know that you think he has a great future ahead of him, but he does have to start producing.
- The last thing that Bowa has to do may be the hardest. Greg Gross must go. It's time for Bowa, Gross and Wade to meet and discuss what Gross can do to help the ballclub and to find a face-saving way to get Greg Gross out of the picture. Give Gross options. Let him resign, give him another perhaps, even high profile job with the club. Maybe even have him keep the title of hitting coach, but have Charlie Manuel work with "certain" hitters. Then, after the season, Gross can ride quietly into the sunset. One way or another, Gross must go.
Larry Bowa is not at fault for what's going wrong with the Phillies, but he is in a position to affect change. He needs to truly become a manager and lead this team. The same lineup with just simple changes here and there won't get it done. This season is quickly sinking into oblivion and that is not what was supposed to happen. This team is too good to look this bad. Having Terry Francona come to town this season as a visiting coach is nice, but having a cloned version of him in the Phillies dugout isn't.