Hey! CD, would you settle a dispute between my buddies and I as to the names of the Phyllis pitching coaches since 1993?
Bill, good question, my friend, and unless I am missing someone who was there for a real short time, the Phillies have had three pitching coaches since 1993.
Of course, the pitching coach during the pennant-winning season, and for the following three years, was the legendary Johnny Podres. None other than Curt Schilling himself gives Podres credit for his advancement from thrower to pitcher.
After Podres stepped down for health reasons, the respected Galen Cisco came on board. Cisco, better known to veteran Phillie fans, as the pitcher who lost to the Cardinals on the final day of the '64 season, had mixed success. He did help with the development of youngsters like Tyler Green, Mike Grace, Garret Stephenson and Matt Beech but was replaced when Bowa became manager.
Cisco was replaced by Verne Ruhle, who helped pitchers like Brett Myers and Brandon Duckworth. However, his hands off approach to most pitchers did not enamor him to many players and he was replaced after two years.
Of course, this year the Phils are blessed to have Joey the K…Joe Kerrigan, who is undoubtedly one of the best half dozen pitching coaches in baseball. His talents have contributed to the maturation of Myers, the improvement of Randy Wolf and reemergence of Rheal Cormier as a solid relief pitcher.
Something to keep an eye on…his new pet project is bullpen closer Jose Mesa. How this works out could well determine the Phils fate in the playoff race. Hope this helps.
Q: On Pat Burrell's Struggles, from Joe Howe, Rhode Island
Hey! CD, If Pat Burrell continues to struggle this year, what do you think his future will be with the Phils?
Pat Burrell, Pat Burrell, where art thou, Pat Burrell? Joe, good friend, this question may consume more Phillies organization time this winter than the Kevin Millwood negotiations. However, when the shaking of heads and gnashing of teeth is finished by all involved, the answer will be that Burrell will be right where he is now, penciled in to play left field.
Frankly, the Phils have little choice at the moment, they have invested 50 million dollars and a boatload of publicity Burrell's way, and they can hardly give up on him now. Yet, if he struggles in Spring Training next season, I believe the Phils will quietly begin shopping for an alternative, be it Brian Giles of Pittsburgh, Moises Alou of the Cubs, or some other left fielder with power.
History shows that great hitters often have one bad year early in their career, but most solid hitters regain their strokes the following year. Mark McGwire is Exhibit A of this phenomenon. Obviously, it is in everyone's best interest if Burrell comes to camp next year looking like the ‘02 version and not the ‘03 model. Let us all hope!
Q: On Old Time Phillies, from Drew McGill, West Palm Beach, FL
Hey! CD, why do we hear so little about the old time Phillies like Chuck Klein and his ilk?
Great question, Drew, and one that deserves a thoughtful answer. Although few fans would argue that players like Klein, Del Ennis, Jim Konstanty and even Robin Roberts were great players in their time, fewer and fewer baseball fans are growing up with a sense of the history of the game.
This is a sad commentary on the future of the game. It is precisely because of this history that baseball is such a timeless sport. I notice it when I write about my childhood memories of Johnny Callison and Richie Allen. Although, very vivid to me, it is considered almost blasphemous when I mention that I believe Allen was as talented as Mike Schmidt. Of course, this thinking takes place among fans that saw Schmidt, but barely read about Allen.
One thing that would help is, if baseball teams made a greater effort to bring back their greats from the past and allow them to still be part of the organization. Indeed, one of the best things about the hiring of Larry Bowa was his connection to that great era of the ‘70's and early ‘80's. Suddenly, players like Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Greg Luzinski and Tug McGraw have become more prevalent at the Vet. This can only be a good thing for professional baseball in general, and the health of the game in particular.
One more suggestion I would make is to have a team Hall of Fame at every stadium. It gives me chills to imagine walking into a Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame at the new Citizens Bank Park next year and seeing some of the greatest Phils honored there. Could you imagine the wonderment of seeing stories and memorabilia of The Whiz Kids, the ‘64 Phillies, the World Champion 1980 team, and highlights from other great teams like the ‘77 and ‘93 teams? Then to honor past players like Richie Ashburn, Ed Delahanty, Klein, Ennis, Allen, Callison, Bunning and more current ex-stars like Schmidt and Carlton. This would be priceless…and timeless.
History is nothing if its not made to tell stories that relive the past, revive the present, and reinvigorate the future.
Q: On Another All-Phillies Team, from Chuck Burg, Location unknown
Hey! CD, I saw your All-Vet team and wondered if you could put together another team of past Phillie players?
Yes, Chuck, and I sure had fun putting this team together. This, my friend, is composed entirely of past Phillies who played only one year with the Phils. This list is interesting because of its variety. Some of these players went on to success elsewhere, some never played again, others are on the team because of the significance of that one year, and one player is a Hall of Famer. Enjoy…and readers are invited to send their All-Anything team and I may post some of them! Anyway, here goes!
Catcher- John Bateman, last player to homer at Connie Mack Stadium (as an Expo) and Steve Carlton's personal catcher during his 15 game winning streak in 1972.
1b- Tony Perez, part time player on the Wheeze Kids pennant winning 1983 team and Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer.
2b-Sparky Anderson, ironically, Perez's manager and a player who was the Phil's starting second baseman in 1959 and never played another big league game!
SS-Bobby Pena, highly heralded player in 1968. Had a decent year, hitting .260 then was replaced by Don Money the next year.
3b-Gene Freese, power hitting third sacker, had a solid season in 1959, then was traded to the White Sox for Johnny Callison!
LF-Danny Cater, another of the fine rookies on the 1964 near miss club, he hit .296 as a part timer in '64, then was traded for Ray Herbert in the winter.
CF-Ted Savage, perhaps one of the most publicized rookies in Phils history, who had a decent year in 1962, hitting .266 and stealing 16 bases. Although the swiftest Phillie on the team, he was traded to the Pirates along with Pancho Herrera for Don Hoak.
RF-Tony Barron, undoubtedly one of the saddest stories, this player waited a long time to make it to the big leagues. Finally made it to the show in 1997 and did very well, hitting .286 and making one of the greatest catches in Veterans Stadium history. Surprisingly, he was not a member of the ‘98 team and no one is quite sure why not, though it was always suspected that his participation in Spring Training games during the strike of ‘94 doomed him.
LSP-Ken Brett, one of the most popular players ever to grace a Phils uniform, he won 13 games in 1973. Moreover, he homered in four straight games, an incredible feat for a pitcher. He was traded for Dave Cash in December of ‘73.
RSP-Joe Cowley, perhaps the worst pitcher in Phillies history, his 0-4 record and astronomical ERA did not allow him to see June of 1987. He was gone les than two months after Opening Day, and never won another game in the big leagues. Ironically, he had been quite successful until his misfortunes in '87.
LRP-Willie Hernandez, from standout relief ace for the 1983 World Series Phils to MVP of the 1984 World Series Champion Detroit Tigers. Needless to say, this one hurt!
RRP-Jerry Spradlin, a tall hard throwing right-hander on the 1998 team, he was strangely missing in ‘99 although he had been very effective as a middle reliever.
PH- Danny Tartabull, lets see, a player signed to provide power in 1997, he fouled a ball off his foot on opening day, injured an ankle…and went 0-7 for the year!
PH-Harvey Kuenn, a veteran's veteran, he was past his prime when he joined the Phils in mid 1966. However, he will forever be remembered as a Phil who stroked a three-run single in late September to win a game. Ironically, those were his last RBI as a Phillie!
There you have it. My All-Time One-Year Wonders! Let me know yours!
Columnist's Note: This ends today's edition of Hey! CD. I welcome comments & questions, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will respond in a future edition of this column. Thanks for visiting, and see you next time! CD.