Hey, CD...On The Mariners, Bunting & Leadership

<I><b>Hey!</I> CD</b> is a spin-off of Connect the Dots by the same columnist California Dreamin', a Phillie die-hard from Southern California. Send your questions to CD at <a href=mailto:connectthedots@earthlink.net>connectthedots@earthlink.net</a> and read his response to you on this column. Thanks!

Q: On the Mariners and Connect the Dots Articles, from Debbie of Coeur d 'Alene, Idaho
Hi, CD, I like your Connect the Dot articles and am an avid Mariners fan. Currently, they have two excellent catchers, Dan Wilson and Ben Davis. Do you think they are preparing Davis to take over, I think he is a bit younger? What will they do with Wilson?

CD Says: Great question, Debbie, thanks for asking. The Mariners are in a very enviable position, with 2 solid catchers, and Davis, who is almost 8 years younger at 26 should be ready to take over soon. As you may or may not know, Davis was a former #1 pick of the San Diego Padres, and it was never his ability that was in question, it was his temperament. However, he seems to be maturing and the Mariners, as is there norm, always seem to have someone ready to replace a player who is leaving. They haven't missed a beat despite losing A-Rod, Griffey and Randy Johnson, and although Wilson has been a solid player for them, the mortality rate of catchers after 30 is quite high ... and Wilson is almost 34. My guess is that Davis will slowly take over the #1 spot, though probably not until next year, with Wilson in reserve.

Eventually the starting catcher in Seattle will be a youngster named Ryan Christianson, a guy the Phillies liked! It's a luxury few teams have. An interesting note, Debbie, did you know that the Phils were contemplating drafting Wilson instead of Mike Lieberthal.... they liked both of them. It worked out well for both teams.

Thanks for the question. Please continue sending me feedback to my articles. As you are aware of, I like to know the pulse of my readers so I can be more informative in every way.

Q: On the Phillies as a Team, from Alan of Tampa Bay
Hey CD, why aren' t the Phils a better fundamental team? They don't bunt well, don't hit and run much and steal few bases. What's up with that?

CD Says: Ah, Alan, the question we have been asking all year...with what I believe is the same answer. In fairness, the Phils DEFENSIVELY are a great fundamental club, they rarely make mental mistakes. In fact, I think you must play good fundamental defense to start for Larry Bowa (though Bobby Abreu critics might disagree). However, as I have been saying all year, this Phils team is not built to manufacture runs, and that is what good fundamentals do offensively.

This Phillie team is among the WORST bunters I have ever witnessed in Philadelphia, and in my opinion, should just stop bunting. It has become almost comical to watch a Phillie try to get a bunt down; even previously strong bunter Placido Polanco now has problems. I will tell you this much, Alan. I went to a Phils-Angels game earlier this season and specifically watched batting practice. The Phillies barely practiced their bunting, it was quite noticeable, and the bunting they did seemed half-hearted and contrived. I just think this team doesn't have much enthusiasm for bunting, so they should just stop doing it, it hurts the team and gives up too many outs.

As for hit and run plays, this team must make consistent contact to be good at it; but their swings and misses are way too many to be a good hit and run team. Tough luck!

As for stealing bases, this is where the Phils could improve. We have four base stealers, Marlon Byrd, Abreu, Nick Punto and Jimmy Rollins. These four should be allowed to run more often.

I hope this helps, Alan, and thanks for continued patronage.

Q: Phillies Clubhouse Leader, from Don of Philadelphia
Hey CD,who is the clubhouse leader of this team. In 1980 we had Pete Rose, what about this team?

CD Says: Don, this Phillies team has great clubhouse chemistry and the veteran leadership it gets is one big reason why. The Phils leadership roles actually are split. It appears that Kevin Millwood has emerged as the leader of the pitching staff. Youngsters Bret Myers and Randy Wolf in particular seem to have been taken by Millwood's influence. Of course, veterans David Bell and Jim Thome have also enthusiastically taken on leadership roles in the clubhouse.

Bell apparently called a team meeting shortly before the Phils began to play well, and many attribute the meeting as a very positive step. Thome leads more by doing and saying the right thing, he is apparently a joy to be around. One more player needs to be acknowledged and that is veteran closer Jose Mesa. He seems to be the leader among the Spanish speakers in the clubhouse and is among the hardest working players onthe team.

Positive clubhouse leadership should never be underestimated and value its importance. Baseball is a marathon race and the temptation to rest and slide is always there. It doesn't happen with the Phils because of these players.

Thanks for the question, please write again.

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