Hey, CD: What's the Phillie Pulse On...?

Hey! CD 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 Finish to the Space Race, from Carlos Tache

 

Hey! CD, I loved your Space Race article. I would like to know how you think the space race is going to end, and when can we expect a clearer picture?

CD says...
Thanks for the question, and welcome to the Pulse, my friend. Hope you will become a regular contributor. 

And on to your question…you may recall that I mentioned the Phils, Cubs and Astros in the space race.  I also think the San Diego Padres will surprise and win the NL West.

In the end, I think this is the Astro (nauts) year to win the Space Race. With Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte set to join Wade Miller, Roy Oswalt and Tim Redding in a very strong rotation, it looks to me as if this team is primed to beat the Phils in the NL playoffs and advance to the World Series. 

As for when this will become clearer, I suspect that the Phils, Astros and Cubs will advance fairly easily to the playoffs. The Padres will probably battle the San Francisco Giants for the NL West title with the Pads winning due to a superior bullpen. The possible loss of Robbie Nen for the Giants, and the return of Trevor Hoffman to a Padre bullpen that looks very solid, will be the difference. 

Hope this helps, Carlos, and write again soon!

Q. On the Chances of the San Francisco Giants to Join the Space Race, from Gabriel Funk, Hanover, PA

Hey! CD, great space race story, but what about the San Francisco Giants?  Any team with Barry Bonds has a chance to go all the way, just like they almost did two years ago.

CD says…
Another new reader of the Pulse!  Welcome aboard, Gabriel, thanks for joining an ever-increasing number of Phillie fanatics at the Pulse. 

While I agree that a team with Barry Bonds can never be taken lightly, I just feel that the Giants have suffered too many personnel player losses and it will catch up with them this year. The latest problem is the revelation that star bullpen closer Robbie Nen may not pitch in 2004 due to arm problems.

This move would be devastating to a team that lost closer Tim Worrell to the Phillies. Added to this are defections of such standout players as Jeff Kent (last year), Benito Santiago, Rich Aurelia, Sidney Ponson, Jose Cruz Jr. and the aforementioned Worrell, and this may be more than even Bonds can make up for.

I am especially enamored with the Padres because they have added such solid players as David Wells, Brian Giles and former ace reliever, Trevor Hoffman to a team that already has such stalwarts as Phil Nevin, Ryan Klesko, Adam Eaton, Sean Burroughs, Mark Loretta, and Jake Peavy. 



A bullpen with Hoffman, Rod Beck and Scott Linebrink will be a difficult one to beat in the late innings.  If the Padres have a potential weakness, it is a lack of depth in the starting rotation, but the offensive firepower, plus the brand new ballpark makes for a great combination.

I think the Giants and Padres will battle for the West title into the last week of the season, but the bullpen will be the difference. The Padres will get the honor of losing to the Houston Astros in the first round of the NL playoffs. 

Thanks for the question, Gabriel, and stay with the Pulse all through the exciting 2004 season.

Q. On The Overuse of Billy Wagner, from Brian McIntyre

Hey! CD, are you worried about Billy Wagner? He was overused last season and could flame out very quickly. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

CD says…
Brian, your question is a very valid one, and may be one of the reasons that the Astros allowed Wagner to get away. History shows that relievers flame out as quickly as they sparkle and this is something the Phils will need to be aware of.

However, a closer look at Wagner's 2003 season showed that although he did pitch in 78 games, nearly half of the Astros 162 game schedule, he only pitched 86 innings. This means that he basically was only in the game for the ninth inning and that's all.

In those 86 innings, Wagner only walked 23 hitters and allowed 52 hits, which means that less than one batter a game was on base. This meant that he had many 3 up and 3 down innings, placing less stress on his arm.

My guess is that Wagner, who will be 33 years old in late July, is a solid bet to have a standout season with the Phils in '04. Pitching for a solid team, with a great group of starting and middle inning pitchers, should help him also. I expect numbers similar to his 2003 season in '04.

However, if I were a Phillie fan, I might be concerned that we would begin to see a drop in effectiveness in 2005.  Relief pitchers who rely on fastballs, especially 100 MPH heat, can lose their effectiveness quickly with just a few MPH drop in speed.

We Phillie fans witnessed this in a very painful way in 1993 when Mitch Williams lost his fastball during the playoffs and World Series. He never regained his fastball, and was out of baseball soon after. I am certainly not predicting a sudden demise of Wagner, but I will not be surprised if his stay as a Phillie lasts two years, and no longer.

Enjoy him this year, Phillie fans, as I suspect he will provide the Phils with the most consistent closer relief pitching we have ever witnessed in Philadelphia. Even Steve Bedrosian in his
Cy Young year in 1987 had several stretches where the home run ball hurt him. I do not see this happening to Wagner. I predict he will be a joy to watch when he enters a game in the 9th inning.

Take care, Brian, and see you again soon at the PhilliePulse!

Q. On Chances of Jason Michaels/Chase Utley Making the Team, from Lou D'Amico, Toledo, OH

Hey! CD, since Michaels and Utley had great summers last year, shouldn't they be guaranteed their spots on the team with Doug Glanville having to win a spot?  After all, Glanville lost his job two years ago. What are your thoughts on this situation?
 

CD says…
Ah, Lou, I have commented on this situation more than a few times since the rumors of a Glanville signing began in late December. Here are my thoughts on the subject.

Although I would tend to disagree with you about Utley having a great summer in 2003, I think he is going to be a solid major leaguer. 

Frankly, I see nothing to be gained by sending him back to SWB for another year of seasoning, the Phils run the risk of destroying his confidence if they are not careful.  I think he is going to be a solid second baseman for the Phils, and feel that with the uncertainty of David Bell's back, Utley stands an excellent chance of being a starting infielder with the Phils.

As for the Jason Michaels saga, all I can say on this matter is that a fifth outfielder who hits .330 as a bench player would seem to have earned a spot on the team.  Not so Michaels, as he could be the odd man out if Glanville makes the squad.

I think Michaels has a strong chance of being traded in spring training, either for a young catcher or another relief pitcher.  Personally, I think Michaels gives the Phils more talent, power and youth than Glanville, but I will be very surprised if Doug doesn't make the squad.

The Phils have put a premium on his veteran presence and he was given a guaranteed contract, albeit for only $500,000 dollars. It says here that Glanville makes the squad, Utley probably makes the team, and Michaels is traded in the spring.  Lets see if this happens.

As always, thanks for the question, Lou, and keep track of the Phils all year with the Pulse!

Q. On Tickets For Opening Day, from Christopher Bieber

Hey! CD, I am so excited about the season, thanks for keeping us psyched with your positive articles this winter!  Do you know if there are any tickets left for opening day and if so, when can they be purchased? 

CD says…
Christopher, this is a question that several readers have asked me.  Here's what I've gathered. Mark your calendar on Thursday, February 19, 2004 when individual tickets for opening day, April 12, 2004 at Citizens bank Park, will go on sale.

I have seen that the Phils have already sold nearly 25,000 season tickets so there probably won't be many tickets left for opening day, or any of the other games. If the Phils learned one lesson from their many years at the Vet, it was that having over 60,000 seats available did not make for encouraging people to buy tickets ahead of time.

People felt that they could literally walk up to the stadium at game time and get good tickets. Not so any more. With only a bit over 42,000 seats in the new stadium, I expect the entire schedule of 81 home games to sell out. 

By the way, Christopher, if this date is incorrect, I am sure I will hear about it from the readers and I will quickly correct it. However, many readers who are trying to get tickets for opening day, including this writer, have told me that February 19 is the day to purchase individual tickets. 

Oh, one more thing, Christopher!  I understand that April 12 is your birthday.  From the Phillie Pulse to you, here's wishing you an early Happy Birthday, and let's hope the Phils give you a great birthday gift with a victory on opening day! 

Stay with the Pulse all season, my friend.

To My Co-Fans: Thank you for your continued patronage and the undying interest on our beloved Phillies. Keep the questions coming and I'll keep responding. Until next time!
CD from the Left Coast

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