CD says...Great question, Tom, and the answer may well decide the fate of the Phillies playoff hopes for 2003. Although the Phils say they hope to rehabilitate Jose Mesa and allow him to close again, I don't believe that will happen.
I think Mesa, who has been a willing and able warrior for over two seasons, has reached the end of the line of his effectiveness as a consistent closer. Though he works hard and is a very positive influence on the young players, he seems to have lost his ability to strike hitters out with the regularity of the past. His control is also very spotty and this becomes a dangerous game of Russian Roulette when he enters a ballgame.
As for the new closer, I can see no other real candidate than the recently acquired righty, Mike Williams. Although his overall numbers are poor, he did have over 20 saves with the Pirates before coming over to the Phils, and has been a solid closer for a few years now. Lets hope he regains his stuff as there is no more demoralizing aspect to a teams psyche than losing late inning leads because a closer can't close. Of this may determine whether our season ends in September or continues to play on into October.
Q: On the possible return of Curt Schilling, from Pat Neill, Philadelphia
Hey! CD, if we do not resign Kevin Millwood, what are the chances of re-acquiring Curt Schilling?
CD says... Ahhh, Pat, I am so glad you asked! Although I think Kevin Millwood fits the Phils like a glove and has done wonders in assisting young hurlers like Brett Myers and Randy Wolf, I do not believe he will re-sign with the Phillies. I still believe he will find his way back to Atlanta and this will open the door for the Phils to bring Curt Schilling back.
In fact, I have mentioned on several occasions that I believe Schill will be our opening day hurler at the new Citizens Bank Park in April. I know this flies in the face of what most people want to hear as Millwood has become a solid and dependable number one hurler with the Phils and gets along well with his teammates. I just believe he will go back to his roots in the South and Schilling will return to his roots…the Phillies! Curt will be entering the last year of his contract in 2004 and has a no trade clause.
I think the Diamondbacks, who have no intention of offering him a long term deal, will feel the need to get something for Schill before he leaves as a free agent after 2004. This will lead to a trade with the only team he would surrender his no trade clause for…the Phils. Although I do not care to speculate on names of players that may be involved in a trade, I think it will take two prospects, none named Hamels, Floyd, Utley or Buchholtz! Lets se what happens, Pat.
Either way, the Phils win! Millwood would be a wonderful pitcher to have for four more years, and Schilling is far from through as an effective top of the rotation starter. In fact, it is well known that Myers and Schilling are good friends and the friendly competition between the two would be nothing short of fascinating to watch next season. Stay tuned!
Q: On A-Rod in Texas, from David, Pennsylvania
Hey! CD, with Alex Rodriguez making statements in regards to a possible trade, what are the chances of the Phillies being interested in acquiring him?
CD says...David, my friend, it would take a monumental shift in the way the Phillies do business for them to even consider such a move. Frankly, in this case, I would agree with them, the cost is much too high, even if the Texas Rangers agree to pay part of his salary.
There are several reasons that I believe this will never happen, and the cost of paying A-Rod is only one. Secondly, the Phillies are well stocked in middle infielders, with incumbent Jimmy Rollins and young prospects Anderson Machado and Danny Gonzalez. Another reason that this would never happen is that I do not believe that agent Scott Boras would ever allow his client to accept a trade to the Phillies. Boras, in fact, is one of the reasons I do not expect Millwood back, as he represents Kevin, also.
A final factor to consider is that having A-Rod on your club hamstrings your ability to acquire other top talent for several years to come. It is one of the ironies that as valuable and talented as A-Rod is, he is certainly not worth what he is being paid as he plays in the ultimate team sport. Regardless of his overall individual brilliance, and of that there can be no doubt, he cannot by himself lift a team on his shoulders ands carry it…no one player can!
I believe A-Rod will look back on his career and realize he made a monumental mistake when he left Seattle. He was much more valuable to the Mariners, and they to him, than he will ever be in Texas. If a trade can ever be arranged for A-Rod, I believe it will be to the Yankees, Mets, Orioles, Dodgers or Red Sox. Boston may become interested if Nomar Garciaparra leaves after 2004 as a free agent. Otherwise, the New York teams become the front-runners for A-Rod. Hope this answers your question!
Q: On the Worst Trade in Phillies History, from Leon, Florida
Hey! CD, what would you consider the worst trade in Phillies history?
CD says...Leon, although I am not sure which of two trades ranks as the worst, I am sure of one thing…the Chicago Cubs were the happy benefactors of our benevolence. Of course, I am referring to the trades of Ferguson Jenkins to the Cubs in early 1966 for pitchers Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl and the 1981 trade of shortstop Larry Bowa and then 3rd base prospect Ryne Sandburg to the Cubs for shortstop Ivan DeJesus.
Although we surrendered not one, but two future Hall of Famers in Jenkins and Sandburg, I can more easily justify one of the trades than the other. This will help me to answer the question.
Lets examine the Jenkins trade first. The Phils of 1966 were a team built for one last push for a pennant and the veterans Jackson and Buhl were expected to add talent, depth and stability to a staff of Jim Bunning, Chris Short and Ray Culp.
In fact, Jackson had a very solid season in ‘66, though Buhl was never effective. And, truth be told, the Phils knew of Jenkins potential and were probably not surprised at his success. They just never imagined the length and depth of his success. However, the reasons for the trade were valid.
The Bowa-Sandburg trade for DeJesus is not so easily justified, and was difficult to justify even in 1981. It is this writer's opinion that Larry Bowa was a far superior shortstop to Ivan DeJesus in 1981 and that this trade was made in a moment of anger by then President/GM Bill Giles. He was having contract squabbles with the temperamental Bowa and decided to rid the Phils of this potential problem. That he had a willing trade partner in new Cubs GM Dallas Green made this a simple trade.
Green, who knew the Phils farm system as well as anyone, begged Giles to throw in a rookie named Ryne Sandburg and Giles complied. This proved to be a monumental mistake, as Sandburg became a solid third sacker, then a tremendous second baseman and now a Hall of Fame player. This trade becomes even more painful every time one remembers Game Three of the 1983 World Series when a key error by DeJesus allowed the winning run to score in the game that turned the entire series around. A 1983 infield of Pete Rose, Ryne Sandburg, Larry Bowa and Mike Schmidt certainly would have been a sight to see!
So, Leon, with all things considered, and all factors weighed, the Bowa/Sandburg for DeJesus trade gets my vote as the worst Phils trade in the modern era!
Columnist's Note: This ends today's edition of Hey! CD. Please send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be glad to respond to you on this column. Thanks for visiting, and see you next time! CD