Hey! CD, normally Randy Wolf has a poor first half and a great second half. This year seems to be reversed. What happened?
Joseph, thanks for asking what many Phillie fans have been thinking! I will present two theories, the prevailing theory…and mine.
The prevailing theory is that Wolf has been suffering from a "tired arm" ever since that 130+ pitch shutout that he threw in July. Although studies are inconclusive, many baseball experts believe that after about 115 pitches an arm begins to feel the stress of all of the exertion on the arm, and it slowly begins to weaken. This can either cause a pitcher to be ineffective for a while, as in Wolf's case, or to even suffer an arm injury. To his credit, Wolf insists his arm is fine and that the problems are mechanical. Pitching coach, Joe Kerrigan, agrees and worked with Wolf on the side before his start against the Mets on Saturday night. It obviously worked as Wolf pitched very well in a solid 4-2 victory.
Now, Joseph my friend, my theory. I call it the Post All-Star Game Syndrome and it seems to affect some pitchers who make the All-Star Game for the first time. For whatever reason, they seem to slump slightly after the game and the slump can last from a few starts to the entire second half. This especially happens if they have an ineffective outing in the game.
One will never forget the most famous case, the sad story of Atlee Hammaker. He had a wonderful first half, but then surrendered a grand slam home run to Fred Lynn in the All-Star game. Although healthy after the game, Hammaker was never the same pitcher after his pummeling in the All-Star Game.
Happily for the Phils, Wolf seems ready to reestablish himself as the lefty ace of the Phils staff!
Q: On Larry Bowa and the "Beacon of Light", from Tom McCullough Gibbstown, New Jersey
Hey! CD, read your Beacon of Light article on Connect the Dots column. How do you feel about Larry Bowa being the captain of the team trying to find the beacon of light?
Tom, the timing of your question could not have been more perfect! I will attempt to answer your question based on my perceptions of what is happening in the Phillies clubhouse.
Needless to say, the clubhouse has not been a very happy place lately, with players like Kevin Millwood, Pat Burrell, Jose Mesa, Brett Myers and Tyler Houston voicing their displeasure with the way things are going. Things came to a head on Thursday in Montreal when Lary Bowa finally blew up at his team and the way they were playing. I suspect the screaming was more beneficial for Bowa than the players because I believe the Phils players have tuned Bowa out by now.
Look, Larry Bowa will never change…his fiery personality is what appealed to GM Ed Wade in the first place. Bowa's job is safe ‘til the end of the year and how the Phils finish will probably have much to do with whether or not he is retained.
Giving Bowa the benefit of the doubt, perhaps his goal was to galvanize his players "against" him in a united front. This worked in 1980 when Dallas Green had a screaming fit in mid August and the Phils came alive and proceeded to win their first and only World Series. The players later indicated that they had decided to band together to play for themselves and not for Green. That it worked is to Green's everlasting credit! Let us hope that Bowa has the same result!
Q: On Picking up a Fresh Arm, from Alan Stager, Tampa Bay, FL
Hey! CD, As the Yanks and Redbirds have done, wouldn't it make sense for the Phils to pick up a 'fresh arm' if there is such a thing at this stage of the season?
Alan, my friend, I believe that Ed Wade would agree with you, based on some of the things that have happened to the Phils staff during the past two weeks. Not only the ineffectiveness of the starting pitchers, but the troubles in the bullpen have culminated in a staff that is probably running on fumes right now.
To elaborate somewhat, the injury to Terry Adams and the family emergency that caused Mike Williams to briefly leave the team has suddenly left what was once a strong and deep bullpen in tatters. Add to this the recent demotion of closer Jose Mesa and the inability of Phils starters to get to the seventh inning and it has led to stretch of nine losses in ten games.
Now, to answer your question, I suspect that Wade has been scouring the waiver wires to pick up a solid arm. In fact, I believe that Mike Dejean probably interested Wade very much. Unfortunately, the Cards had first bid on Dejean due to their lower standing record wise and acquired him for a few minor league prospects.
However, Alan, trust me, reinforcements are on the way on Monday. Look for Brandon Duckworth to stay with the Phils and for pitchers Geoff Geary, Hector Mercado and possibly 1-2 others to join the staff. Also, look for Mesa to reclaim his closer role.
Frankly, the Phils have little choice this late in the season. The fact remains that the Phils are likely to sink or swim with how Mesa pitches in September. Let us hope that the work he has put in with Joe Kerrigan can help him to regain his form.
Q: On Youngest 50-game Winner in the Hall of Fame, from Leon, Florida
Hey! CD, here's a trivia question for you. Who was the youngest left-hander in the Hall of Fame to win 50-games?
Ah, Leon, what a sneaky question!! Knowing your Phillie connections, one might assume that it must be Steve Carlton. Given your admiration for Sandy Koufax, one might assume it was the overpowering lefty from LA. Or given your knowledge of Old Time Baseball, one might guess it was Lefty Grove.
Knowing your love of the 1964 Phillies and the dream match up in Game One of the World Series against the Yankees, a good guess might be Whitey Ford! But, my friend, as you very well know, they would all be incorrect!
Actually, this former great left-hander became better known for his hitting prowess, and in fact, did not even win those 50 games with the team that he made famous.
Yes, my friend, be it Babe, Bambino, or the Sultan of Swat, the answer would be the legendary pitcher turned slugger, Babe Ruth. And…now you know the rest of the story!
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