Hey! CD... On Geary, Burrell, Schilling and Timlin

<b><I>Hey! CD</b></I> is a regular Q&A column by California Dreamin, a Phillie die-hard from SoCal. Known as CD to baseball friends, he is a favorite source of information by Phillie fans, curious about his unique perspective on various Phillie baseball issues & events. Send your comments or questions to CD at <a href=mailto:connectthedots@earthlink.net>connectthedots@earthilink.net</a> and read his response to you on a future edition of this column. Thanks!

Q: On Josh Hancock, Geoff Geary and Carlos Silva, from Connie, Harvey's Lake PA

Hey! CD, What chance do you give Josh Hancock and Geoff Geary of making the Phils bullpen next year? Also, do you think Carlos Silva has a chance to become the fifth starter?

CD says... Thanks for the questions, Connie, they are very good ones!

I will answer the Hancock and Geary question first. As many readers probably know, I am a big fan of Geoff Geary and have been since his rookie year. The guy just knows how to pitch and has been successful throughout his collegiate and professional career.

Another impressive thing about Geary has been his easy transition from starter to reliever. He had a solid season at Scranton Wilkes-Barre this past year with a 9-4 record, and an ERA of 2.16! He also saved 5 games. In fact, I advocated bringing him up last August and giving him the closer job. I think he stands a decent chance of making the Phils next year, but he suffers from three problems. One, he is not quite six feet tall and the Phils like tall righties. Two, he doesn't throw as hard as the Phils would like so this will hurt him. Three, he will be competing with Ryan Madson for a spot on the roster. I do not think Larry Bowa will keep two rookie pitchers, though I think both could help the team.

As for Hancock, I do not see him making the club out of spring training, though he could get a call later in the summer if he pitches well at Scranton Wilkes-Barre. In my opinion, his future is as a starter, so his career in Philadelphia is problematical at best. I do think he has potential and could be used as a trading chip id he pitches well next year.

Now…to answer your question about Carlos Silva. I do think he has a chance to become the Phils fifth starter if he learns another pitch. As you probably know, Pitching Coach Joe Kerrigan thinks Silva would make a good starter and he was a very solid starting pitcher in the minor leagues. I suspect his role in Philadelphia will be determined by the Phils off-season pursuits of bullpen help. If they sign 2-3 solid relievers as free agents, Silva will be given an opportunity to start next Spring. If the Phils are unsuccessful in acquiring 2-3 new relievers, the Silva will join Rheal Cormier and possibly Dan Plesac in the bullpen.

Q: On Pat Burrell's playing time last season, from Todd Kusant, Atlanta GA

Hey! CD, Why did Larry Bowa continue to play Pat Burrell last season when he didn't hit well, field well or run well? Was it because of his large contract?

CD says... Thanks for the question, Todd! I do not mean to be contrary but it's my opinion that Bowa did NOT play Burrell enough last year. I feel that Bowa taking Pat Burrell out for a pinch hitter with the bases loaded and no outs of a 3-3 game against the Milwaukee Brewers in August was the turning point of the season.

I felt that Bowa thoroughly destroyed whatever confidence Burrell was beginning to develop with that move. If you remember, Ricky Ledee struck out as a pinch hitter, and the Phils came up empty in a very key spot in the game. They eventually lost the game 6-4 and began their 1-9 downward spiral that night.

You may recall that Burrell had homered in the previous game against the St. Louis Cardinals and the Phils were flying high with a five game winning streak. Replacing Burrell in that spot was very shortsighted and damaging to the team.

Look, Pat Burrell is a very important member of this organization, and the fact remains that the Phils NEED him to hit. The only way he will hit is if he plays regularly, and the constant play Burrell, sit Burrell was very damaging to his psyche.

As for next year, I do expect Burrell to revert to his 2002 form and give the Phils a very effective middle of the order. I also do not think that Burrell will ever look at his 2003 experience and say that what Larry Bowa did was invaluable in the long run.

Q: On Kevin Millwood vs. Curt Schilling, from Steve Book, Lancaster PA

Hey! CD, Do you think the Phils should make a bigger push for Kevin Millwood than Curt Schilling due to the age difference? How many more years do you think Schilling has?

CD says… Steve, in fact I believe the Phils are making a bigger push to bring back Kevin Millwood than in reacquiring Curt Schilling right now. They are awaiting a fax from Millwood's agent, Scott Boras, as to the parameters of a new deal. Unfortunately, I do not think that the Phils will be able to satisfy this request and Millwood will leave, probably for Atlanta.

Then, I believe the Phils will turn their attention to attempting a trade for righty Javier Vasquez of the Montreal Expos. Again, I believe the Phils will be unsuccessful for various reasons. The Expos will ask for more than the Phils are willing to trade, especially players like Chase Utley, Brett Myers and Gavin Floyd. The Expos will also be reluctant to trade Vasquez to a team in their own division. Finally, the Expos will take longer to decide what to do with Vasquez than the Phils are prepared to wait.

This will ultimately lead to Option three… Curt Schilling. It has been my feeling since last December that when the dust settles, the Phils will bring Schilling back to Philadelphia. He longs to return home, will not cost as much as Vasquez to acquire, and is still a very effective pitcher. I saw him pitch against the Dodgers in September and he looked as good as ever. Remember, he is only one year removed from a 23-win season.

In fact, I think Schill still has about three solid years left and during those three years will be a more effective pitcher than either Millwood or Vasquez. I also believe that he will prove invaluable in the growth of Myers, a young hurler who absolutely idolizes Schilling. I think Schilling will be reacquired before Christmas.

Q: On Mike Timlin's effective pitching! from Chuck Burg, Philadelphia PA

Hey! CD, Can you believe the way Timlin is pitching? Why didn't we resign him?

CD says... Good question, Chuck! Frankly, Mike Timlin had no interest in returning to Philadelphia and the feeling was quite mutual. For whatever reason, he did not like the city or the team and he was quite verbal about this subject. There is no doubt that he can be an effective reliever and he is having a spectacular post season. Good for him!

Personally, I did not appreciate his comments about how unsafe Philadelphia was, and his propensity for giving up the long ball cost the Phils 4-5 games last year. I am happy for his success and am happy that the Phils did not resign him. It cannot be assumed that he would have enjoyed the same success in Philadelphia that he did in Boston. The only thing I might have liked to see was for the Phils to offer him arbitration so they might have obtained a valuable draft pick for him. Perhaps they feared he might accept arbitration, but given his comments about the city, I find this doubtful.

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