Hey CD...On Tejeda, Burrell, Pratt and Smith

<b><I>Hey! CD</b></I> is a regular Q&A column by California Dreamin, a Phillie die-hard from SoCal. His unique perspective on Phillie baseball issues & events draws grassroots interest from Phillie fans from different parts of the country. Send your comments or questions to CD at <a href=mailto:connectthedots@earthlink.net>connectthedots@earthlink.net</a> and read his response to you on a future edition of this column. Thanks!

Q: On Rumors About Miguel Tejada, from Jamie Rosenberg, St. Petersburg, Florida

Hey! CD, can you confirm or deny the rumors that the Phils are interested in free-agent shortstop Miguel Tejada?

CD says...
Nice to have you on board, Jamie, thanks for the question. While it is probably not a good idea to ever say never, I think I can confidently say that the Phils have absolutely no interest in shortstop Miguel Tejada. While fully acknowledging his undeniable talent there are many reasons for the Phils lack of interest.

One, the Phils feel well fortified at shortstop with incumbent Jimmy Rollins, a two time All-Star, and minor leaguers Anderson Machado and Danny Gonzalez. Two, Tejada wants a Jim Thome type contract and this is just not going to happen, from the Phils or any other team. Three, the rumors are beginning to resurface that Tejada is at least 3 years older than his purported age. This news has just come out of Oakland, his current home. While still just a rumor, this raises serious doubts about giving a long-term contract to a player that may be older than thought.

Although Tejada will sign with some team, probably either the Dodgers or Angels, and that team will trumpet his arrival, it is safe to say that it will not be the Phillies trumpeting this arrival. Hope this helps, Jamie, write again.

Q: On Pat Burrell's Comeback, from Garrison Rosato

Hey! CD, what are the chances of a Pat Burrell comeback?

CD says...
Welcome aboard, Garrison. Your question is a very popular one with Phillie fanatics, and with good reason. Burrell is incredibly important to the Phils future and I would dismiss the rumors that he may be traded soon. I would like to say that Burrell would undoubtedly learn from his humbling experience in 2003 and come back better than ever.

However, history shows that Burrell will either follow the example of Mark McGuire and have a wonderful career, or become another Dave Kingman, a player who was equal parts home run hitter and strikeout king. Though I think Burrell is too talented to go the way of Kingman, I must acknowledge the possibility.

If indeed history is a guide, the year 2004 will answer this question. McGuire, as with many other sluggers who had one-year slumps, rebounded strongly the following year and went on to successful careers.

On the other hand, those who had Kingman-like careers never rebounded from their first seasonal slumps and continued their mediocrity for the rest of their careers. One way or another, we won't have long to wait to see what we have in Pat the Bat. At this time next year, we will know.

Q: On Holding on to Catcher Todd Pratt, from Bink Gonch

Hey! CD, I think it is very important that we re-sign Todd Pratt, who is a free agent. Do you agree with this assessment and do you think he will return to Philadelphia?

CD says…
The answer to both your questions is "yes," Bink. I do think he is important to the Phils and I do think he will return. He is important to the Phils for a myriad of reasons, including his ability, his clubhouse presence, and the fact that he is a player who seems comfortable playing for Manager Larry Bowa. Depth at the catching position is almost non-existent in the Phils organization, hence his importance.

I also think there may be a coaching job in Pratt's future with the Phils organization. So re-signing with the Phils not only might answer his short-term goal but may assist him in his possible long-term goal, also.

Q: On Catching Prospects in the Minor Leagues, from Bob Infante

Hey! CD, with Mike Lieberthal and Todd Pratt both getting older, are there any young prospects in the Phils farm system that we can look forward to seeing in the near future?

CD says...
Bob, in a word…no! There is no greater black hole in the Phils organization than behind the plate. I cannot in good conscious give you the name of one player who will some day make it to Philadelphia. The Phils drafted a very solid prospect named Rob Johnson this past June in the Amateur Draft but let him get away.

This is probably a move that the Phils will regret soon. Johnson was a highly rated prospect, drafted in the 18th round not due to his lack of talent, but due to his college commitment to University of South Carolina. However, he indicated to the Phils that he would sign for third round money. The Phils held fast at their offer of fourth round money, and Johnson said no.

Sadly, this was a decision that both parties may someday regret. The Phils may regret losing such a solid catching prospect as Johnson while he may someday regret turning down a chance to join an organization in which he would have immediately become catching prospect number one. Time will be the answer for this.

I will give you one name of a player who was once highly rated. His name is Russ Jacobson, a former third round pick, now a Double A player. He is no longer considered a prospect, yet could regain his status with a breakout year in 2004. For his sake, and the Phil's sake, this would be a most welcome sight!

Q: On Potential Bullpen Help, from William Serrano

Hey! CD, with the free agent period beginning, are there any other possible relief pitchers who may choose to sign with the Phillies?

CD says...
William, with no sarcasm intended, I say…given General Manager Ed Wade's propensity for acquiring middle inning relief pitching, the answer is always, yes! Let's face it; every GM has his particular strengths, weaknesses, habits and tendencies. Wade seems to value the acquisition of relief pitchers.

During the past three years the partial list includes Jose Mesa, Terry Adams, Turk Wendell, Dennis Cook, Dan Plesac, Rheal Cormier, Mike Williams and Valerio DelosSantos. Some have been very successful acquisitions, as with Plesac, while others have been abysmal failures, as with Williams.

This is not to evaluate Wade's past, only to make an educated guess as to his future endeavors. I think it is almost guaranteed that he will bring in at least one new relief pitcher over the winter. A couple of names to watch for are Paul Quantrill, who had an excellent season in 2003 with the LA Dodgers and Tom Gordon, a favorite of Pitching Coach Joe Kerrigan. It is also probably that Plesac and Adams will be asked back for 2004.

Q: On Minor League Pitcher Dan Giese, from Jim, Scranton PA

Hey! CD, what are the chances of minor league hurler Dan Giese being added to the Phil's 40-man roster over the winter?

CD says...
I am sure Dan Giese appreciates having a fan that is interested in his career! Welcome to our hangout, Jim! As for Giese, he is a pitcher not without some potential. His strikeout/innings pitched ratio is solid and the Phils did indicate an interest in him by acquiring him from San Diego. However, I see no way he is placed on the 40-man roster this winter.

His best chance of becoming a prospect is to be invited to Spring Training and pitch well enough to get his name on the radar screen at Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Then it will be up to him to pitch well enough for a call-up. At this time, he is fairly far down the list of Phil's pitching prospects. Nevertheless, so was Geoff Geary and now his prospects are much better! As long as you are pitching you have a chance to improve!

Q: On Bud Smith's Comeback Bid, from Stephanie Kap, Minersville, PA

Hey! CD, how are the comeback efforts of lefty Bud Smith progressing?

CD says...
Great question, Stephanie, for several reasons! The Phils paid a very steep price for the services of Bud Smith, a still very young lefty hurler. Smith was one of the key components in the Scott Rolen trade to St. Louis in 2002. Unfortunately, he came to Philly with a bad arm, and has had two arm surgeries since the acquisition.

However, reports from Clearwater are that Smith is now healthy and throwing well. This is no small news for the Phils…at his best Smith is a very talented hurler. Remember, at 21, he tossed a no-hitter against the Padres, and then won a playoff game that same season. He is only 24 years of age and could easily fill the Phil's need for a number five starter, if healthy.

It is doubtful that he will make the club out of spring training, but if he goes down to SWB and pitches effectively, he will be back in Philadelphia by next summer. Keep in mind that in the Phil's never ending search for pitching talent, Smith and Dave Coggin are rarely mentioned, but highly talented if healthy!

Dear Readers and co-Fans: Thank you for your continued patronage and the undying interest on our beloved Phillies. Keep the questions coming! CD from the Left Coast


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