Hey! CD...On Worrell, Millwood and Tejeda

<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 spread all over the country. Hop on the good ship PhilliePulse and send your 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.

Q: On the signing of free-agent relief pitcher, Tim Worrell, from Pete, Philadelphia PA.

Hey! CD
, what do you think about the recent signing of free agent Tim Worrell of the Giants? Is it a solid move?

CD says...
Bringing in Tim Worrell, recently a closer with the San Francisco Giants, is a very solid and relatively low cost move for the Phils. Worrell had 38 saves last year but even more important, 2002 he was the bullpen setup man for the Giants. In this role, he was 8-2 with a solid 2.25 ERA.

This will be his role in Philadelphia and I would not be surprised if he got an occasional save on a day that Billy Wagner was unavailable. Look, he is going to be 37 years old so that is a concern, but he has pitched in 156 games over the past two years so it is apparent he has a rubber arm.

Another factor to consider is … if Kevin Millwood returns, and it says here he will, the Phils will have five innings eating starting pitchers. Rarely will we go to the bullpen before the seventh inning and with Cormier, Plesac, Telemaco and either Coggin/Hancock/Geary to assist Worrell, he will probably have a workload of no more than about 70 games.

This is a great move for two other reasons… first, it sends a loud and clear message to the NL that the Phils want to win it all in '04; and second, we literally swooped in and signed him away from the Atlanta Braves. He was all but signed, sealed and delivered to the Braves when he made an about face and chose Philadelphia. This speaks very well of the team, and Wade's persuasive abilities. Good move!

Thanks for the timely question, Pete!

Q: On Kevin Millwood's future in Philadelphia from Ed Siegler, Philadelphia, PA

Hey! CD
, its great that Millwood was offered arbitration, but do you really think he will accept it?

CD says...
Hi, Ed, always nice to see you aboard the PhilliePulse!

In a word, my friend, yes! I think Millwood will accept a one-year deal with the Phils for a multitude of reasons. Number one, despite rumors to the contrary, he likes the city, the team, and the organization. How do I know this? Because Millwood himself has been saying this for about a week now.

Another reason I believe he stays is because I think he is a National League guy and the Phils are the team to beat in the NL, unless the curse of the Billy Goat breaks its hold on the Cubs! Millwood can see that the pitching staff is perfectly suited for his abilities, as he will feel no pressure to lead this year, not with four other solid starters. Having a bullpen led by Cormier and Worrell and a closer like Wagner only makes it even more appealing.

Finally, with the signing of John Thompson, the Braves appear out of the market for another starting pitcher, certainly one of Millwood's potential financial packages. It says here that he accepts arbitration, and then settles for a one-year deal for about 11 million and incentives before it gets to arbitration.

By the way, I also think that his chances of staying in Philadelphia are strong, much stronger than Eric Milton's, who may just be this year's one season rental.

Q: On trading catcher Mike Lieberthal and signing free agent Pudge Rodriguez, from Chuck Burg

Hey! CD
, what about trading Mike Lieberthal and signing World Series MVP catcher Pudge Rodriguez?

CD says…
Chuck, you, my friend, should be employed by the NY Yankees! That might be the only way this suggestion would fly for a couple of reasons. Mike Lieberthal is a highly valued player, a cornerstone of a franchise that has come a long ways since his rookie days. Perhaps no player on the team can possibly appreciate what has happened to this franchise like Lieberthal. This is an invaluable tool to have with a club.

Not only that, Chuck, but the Phils would prefer to keep their Scott Boras clients to a minimum, one is more than enough, thank you!

Finally, do you really want to pay him 10 million a year, which is his asking price? At some point, and Florida just got there, you say thanks… but no thanks!

Q: On not offering arbitration to relievers Turk Wendell and Terry Adams, from Jim Perloff

Hey! CD
, why did the Phils not offer arbitration to relievers Wendell and Adams? Both seemed to be solid last year and will be missed.

CD says…
Jim, welcome to the PhilliePulse, nice to see another newcomer.

As for Wendell and Adams, they are separate cases and were dealt with individually. Frankly, the Phils never considered bringing Wendell back due to health and age concerns. He did pitch well for half a season but was relatively ineffective from July on. I will be surprised if he is offered more than a make good contract somewhere this off-season.

The Phils actually have several youngsters who can replace Wendell's abilities at far less cost. Geoff Geary, Josh Hancock, Amaury Telemaco, Eric Junge and Amaury Telemaco will all be given a chance to replace Wendell as the long righty reliever out of the bullpen.

As for Adams… I believe the Phils wanted him back, but when he didn't sign a contract on Sunday, December 7, and the Phils saw an opportunity to pick up Worrell as a replacement, they decided to go in that direction. Adams had a solid year, and would have been welcomed back, but to be honest, Worrell has less baggage, both physically and emotionally, and is a much better risk. I do think Adams will get a contract somewhere and remain an effective pitcher.

We wish both of them well as they were class acts while in Philadelphia and will be missed as teammates to the club.

Q: On a possible replacement for infielder Nick Punto, from Carmine Pirone
Hey! CD
, now that Punto has been traded, who will the Phils use to replace him on the team?

CD says...
Carmine, as much as Punto's unique talents might be missed, I don't think he would have made the club out of spring training unless David Bell is unable to answer the, ah, bell! Larry Bowa, right or wrong, is going with 12 pitchers so that leaves 13 players to man the field positions. Assuming that Bell is healthy, we return our same eight man lineup and have room for five bench players.

Jason Michaels, Todd Pratt, Chase Utley, Tomas Perez and Ricky Ledee will take those spots. Although Nick Punto's speed was an occasional solid weapon, it is probably better for his career with a fresh start in Minnesota. He was never going to supplant Jimmy Rollins at shortstop and Anderson Machado, among others, is moving up the ladder in the minor leagues. Again, we wish Punto well in Minnesota.

Thanks for joining the Pulse crowd, Carmine.

Q: On going for broke and signing shortstop Miguel Tejada, from Dick DeNenno, Landenberg, PA

Hey! CD
, how about going for the jugular and trading shortstop Jimmy Rollins and signing free agent Miguel Tejada?

CD says…
Welcome to the Pulse, Dick, and, much like Chuck's suggestion about signing Pudge, the same application applies. The Phils have solid financial resources… but not unlimited, and when Millwood reups, the Phils will be maxed out!

As for Tejada, a few things to consider about him. First, it is rumored here on the West Coast that he is three years older than his announced age, which makes him a bit riskier. Second, he has already stated that his wife like the West Coast and that is where he wishes to remain. When the dust settles, look for him to sign about a three-year contract with the Seattle Mariners for a bit over 24 million dollars.

Thanks again, Dick, and hope to see you back on board the PhilliePulse!

Q: On long term deals for Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polonco from Dominick Patrone, Richmond VA

Hey! CD
, what do you think about the Phils decision to offer both Rollins and Polonco one year deals instead of signing them to long term contracts?

CD says…
I think the Phils are making a wise decision to offer one year deals to both and here is the reason. The Phils are currently carrying several multi-year deals, and the team does not want to lose the financial flexibility it takes to make important moves in the future. In the case of Rollins, I suspect if he has a solid season in 2004, I think the Phils will approach him about a three-year extension but with Polonco, I do not see this being the case.

Polonco is one of those interesting players who will always have great value, and yet always be the subject of trade rumors because of his versatility. Even this year, there were rumors that the Cards and Yankees might be interested in trading for him.

Look for this to possibly be Polonco's last season as a Phillie. The club is very high on Utley as their future second baseman and the Phils will probably address their need for a long-term solution at third either through a trade, free agency or through their farm system.

Potentially, the Phils are quite deep in third base prospects. This list includes Travis Chapman, Juan Richardson, Kiel Fisher and Wilmington Baez. The Phils seem particularly high on Richardson, a slugger who will play at Triple A this year. If he hits like they hope, he may get a shot at third base in 2005.

As always, great question, Dom!

Q: On the Phil's penchant for strikeouts, from Todd Rothstein, New York City, New York

Hey! CD
, the pitching is shaping up big time but the 1-8 line-up scares me just slightly. Do you think the Phils need to address all the strikeouts?

CD says…
Todd, thanks for joining the Pulse, and your question is one that concerns many a Phillie fan. In the euphoria about the outstanding pitching staff that we are putting together, the fact remains that the offensive lineup remains unaltered. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on whether you believe the glass is half full or half empty.

What I mean by this is that if you believe that the disappointing 2003 seasons for pat Burrell and David Bell were a mirage, then you believe that the glass is half full. If, however, you believe that Burrell, Thome, Abreu and Rollins are going to again push 600 strikeouts, then you probably believe the glass is half empty.

Regardless of your glass size, this much is apparent. The Phils must do a better job of manufacturing runs next season than they did in '03. Actually, I knew the Phils would have problems manufacturing runs the very first weekend of last season when on a Saturday afternoon, they scored 16 runs in a 16-1 win and the very next day, lost 2-0.

This was a major red flag for me… one that the Phils displayed far too often. On the days when the bats were hot, and the Phils could get into a bullpen early they were dynamite. However, on the days when the opposing teams starter was on, the Phils too often were a bit futile at the plate due to excessive strikeouts.

In 2004, I expect Bowa to address this issue in several ways. Number 1, I think he will allow Marlon Byrd, Rollins and Abreu to run more often, thus setting up chances for hit and runs as well as stolen bases. Number 2, I expect Chase Utley to be in the regular lineup, and he is a strong contact hitter. Finally, I think Burrell will hit better and Thome will strike out less next year. Burrell is just too talented to slump two years in a row and Thome, just from having another year in the NL will know the pitchers better.

However, I do think hitting coach Greg Gross is under the gun in '04 and if the Phils don't show improvement in their hitting, hitting coach guru, Charlie Manuel, could be summoned to the rescue.

Hope that helps, Todd, and please feel free to write the Pulse anytime!

To My Co-Fans: Thank you for your continued patronage and the undying interest on our beloved Phillies. Keep the questions coming, until next time! CD from the Left Coast

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