What Will We Do Then?

Let's face it, as Phillies fans, we need to brace for the worst. Maybe it was the collapse of '64 or maybe it's just part of something deeper, but we always figure something is going to go wrong. Well, with that in mind, how about a rundown of what could go wrong and how we might be able to fix it and avoid a complete meltdown.

The Phillies have built a team that appears able to end the Atlanta Braves streak of 12 straight division titles. Before we start celebrating though, there is spring training and a full schedule of 162 regular season games to get through, so let's not start making confetti just yet. Here are some potential headlines and what the answer to solving them may be:

Kalas, Phillies Part Ways. Hall of Fame Broadcaster Hired by Mets

Just shoot me now!

Not even going to address this one, because it simply can't happen. Look for news this week that Kalas is back for the remainder of his career and Ashburn Alley will be home to a cozy little pub named after the broadcast legend.

Citizens Bank Park Not Ready For Opener

Well, on the bright side, if you have tickets for a game in, let's say, mid to late April, you could be holding tickets to what will be the real CBP opener.

All indications are that the place will be ready to go, but there may be a few amenities missing. In our little world though, let's pretend it's not; then what?

Well, if the Expos can play 22 "home" games outside of Montreal, we could too, I suppose. The Vet is out of the question, since the seats and most of the interior is already either removed and sold or demolished. The Mets, Yankees and even the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons are all home the week of the 12th, so moving games there wouldn't really be likely. Switching some of the Phillies home games to road games and then moving road games against those teams later in the season to Philadelphia would be the likely solution.

The worst part of CBP not being finished on time? Another black eye for Philadelphia sports.

David Bell Not Ready For Spring Training Opener

It could happen, but the word is that Bell is in great shape and will be ready to go. The bigger question may be how his back and hip hold up over the long haul of the season. Here's where it might be smart to give Bell some days off, especially early in the year when cold weather can make even a healthy skeleton hurt, and keep him as healthy as possible.

Again, since we're preparing for worst case scenario though, there is a simple solution. Chase Utley stays in Philadelphia even if Bell does recover and appears ready after some early setbacks. It will not hurt to bring Utley along slowly and having him play here and there won't be the worst thing in the world. After all, Utley likely won't learn anything new with another season at AAA that he hasn't learned already.

Burrell Looks For First Homerun As April Slump Continues

Uh-oh!

This may be the toughest problem for the Phillies to cover. A platoon of Jason Michaels and Ricky Ledee isn't the worst thing in the world, but it's certainly not what the Phillies are figuring on having happen. Actually, the better solution is to plant Jason Michaels in left field and let him play everyday. If nothing else, you know he'll give you a hard-nosed, all-out effort in every situation. If that doesn't work, you have to work the phones and find a veteran outfielder to bring in via trade.

The bigger issue would be what to do with Burrell. You probably would have to make him the highest paid AAA player in history and send him to Scranton. The Phillies are in a win it now mode and carrying Burrell along for the ride won't help things. If Burrell starts 2004 slumping, his career could be in jeopardy. Not because he doesn't have talent, but because mentally, it could ruin him.

Padilla Struggles Again As Phils Lose

First, there were the stories that Padilla had suffered injuries to his shoulder and elbow in that fatal car crash that he was involved in. Lately, published reports of an alcohol problem. Let's face it, there's at least a little bit of concern about Padilla. It's very likely that both of the winter rumors were just rumors and nothing more, but still, anybody could slump.

The good news is that if a starting pitcher does struggle, we can reach to someone else. Eric Junge, Josh Hancock or Ryan Madson are all major league ready. No, we're not going to push Gavin Floyd or Cole Hamels to the majors if someone slumps.

If the Burrell situation would be the toughest to solve, this may be the easiest.

Sophomore Jinx Hits Byrd

Can you say…"Doug Glanville"? Well, that would be the likely solution. There is the Jason Michaels and/or Ricky Ledee fix, but we tried that for a while last season in left field and weren't too happy with the results. Again, our conquering hero, Ed Wade may have to work the phones and find help.

Here's one to really throw some fear in our hearts. Combine the Burrell and Byrd headlines. Ouch!

Bowa Fired As Phils Slide Continues

Perhaps no other question is larger than "is Larry Bowa the right man for the job"? He's fiery, he's combative and he is never afraid to let the media know what his players are doing wrong. If the Phillies stumble early, you have to figure that Bowa would be on his way out. After all, with a new stadium and all of the high-priced stars the Phillies have brought in, sacrificing Bowa wouldn't be the public relations fiasco that it would have been last year.

Who would replace Bowa? Well, Joe Kerrigan has managerial experience. John Vukovich has – albeit short and temporary – managerial experience. Neither would be likely to get the nod. Remember, when most managers are fired, the replacement is the anti-manager. For instance, Terry Francona – perhaps the all time player's manager and all around nice guy – was replaced by the fiery, player un-friendly Bowa. Danny Ozark yielded to Dallas Green. You see how it works.

Two real options if they stay within the organization. The long shot is Scranton manager Marc Bombard. His players love him and he's managed a lot of the current Phillies players. He's well respected in baseball and would bring somewhat of an outsiders approach. The better odds would be on Gary Varsho. You read it here first, Varsho will be a major league manager within three years and he'll be a damn good one at that. He's player friendly, but yet not soft enough that his players don't know who's boss. He's a fundamentals kind of guy and nobody will ever outwork him.

Outside the organization? Well, if the Yankees are losing after the first inning of the first game of the season, Joe Torre could be out of work, especially after the A-Rod deal. Other candidates could include the usual list of suspects like Grady Little, Mike Hargrove or Jeff Torborg.

Yes, a lot could happen. With any luck, none of these or other potentially bad headlines will be appearing in Philadelphia. Then again, would we be completely happy without at least something to gripe about?

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