Hey! CD…What's the PhilliePulse On…

<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 <a href=mailto:hey_cd@earthlink.net>hey_cd@earthlink.net</a> and read CD's response to you on a future edition of this column.

Q: On Jason Michaels and Brett Myers, from Alan Stager, Rhode Island


Hey! CD, thanks for the articles!  I have two questions.  Number one is what has happened to Jason Michaels?  He is rarely seen anymore.  And what do you think about replacing Brett Myers with Ryan Madson in the starting rotation?

CD says...
Hi Alan, and welcome back to the Pulse, it's been far too long!  As far as your two questions, I will answer them one at a time.  As for Michaels, this was so predictable after the Phils signed Doug Glanville and Shawn Wooten in December. 

The Phils only have a need for so many right-handed bats off the bench and Michaels appears about third in the pecking order now.  Although I disagree with his thought process, it is quite apparent that Larry Bowa favors the use of Doug Glanville and with Ricky Ledee hitting from the left side, Michaels has become the sixth outfielder. 

I hope that he will see enough action to make himself valuable, be it as a solid bat off the bench, or as possible trading material later in the season.  Whatever happens, Michaels is still a solid guy to have on a team, capable of playing all three outfield positions, and hitting over .300 off the bench, as he proved last season.

Now, on the question of Madson replacing Myers as a starter… don't think this hasn't been discussed among the Phillie brass, because undoubtedly, it has.  However, this is a tricky issue, one that could well define Bowa's year.  No matter what you think of Myers this season, remember this.  He is the pin up boy for a farm system that seemed to have turned a corner towards respectability.

He was last year's Cole Hamels or Gavin Floyd.  This was a #1 draft pick, who was highly coveted by many teams.  He won 14 games as a rookie.  Frankly, his success is vital to the Phils.  If Myers should suddenly fall apart, then what credibility will the team have in touting Hamels, Floyd, or Madson.

Brett Myers was as close to a "can't miss prospect" as the Phils have had since Randy Wolf.  If Myers and, to a lesser extent, Marlon Byrd fail this season, the blame will be placed squarely on Bowa's shoulders.  Ryan Madson remains an alluring possibility, and I am glad he is on the squad.  However, I continue to preach patience with Myers… he is much too valuable to the future of this organization to give up on after less than 50 games. 

Thanks for the question, Alan, and write again soon!

Q: On The Status of Minor Leaguer Kiel Fisher, from Jason Bryant

Hey! CD, I attended a Lakewood game and did not see Kiel Fisher with the team.  What happened to him, and when can we expect him to be playing? 

CD says
Jason, welcome to the Pulse, and hope you stay awhile!  Great question, my friend, and one that Phillie fans everywhere are asking.  I guess my answer should start with the discussion of a black hole known as third base in this organization. 

No position seems better fortified with prospects than the hot corner, but no one can seem to stay healthy.  We all know of the physical issues with David Bell and Placido Polonco, our two major league hot corner players.  Both have been less than 100% for much of the time in 2003-04.

This plague seems to have infected our minor league players, Fisher included.  Apparently, Kiel came to camp in great shape, and then hurt his lower back swinging the bat.  Back injuries are tricky, and the timetable for their ultimate healing is difficult to project.

The Phils expected Fisher to be playing by now at Lakewood, but his back continues to keep him sidelined.  Assistant GM, Mike Arbuckle said this week that if Fisher doesn't improve soon, he might have to undergo an MRI.  Clearly, this is distressing news as Fisher was undoubtedly one of the best hitting prospects in the entire organization.  Lets hope for the best for Fisher, as well as fellow third base prospects, Terry Jones and Juan Richardson.

Jones broke a foot in the spring and his expected stay with Manager Mike Schmidt at Clearwater has been indefinitely delayed.  As for Richardson, the young power hitter was scheduled to play third base at Scranton Wilkes-Barre this year. 

He still might, but it will be July before he is able to perform all the throwing needed for his position.  His torn labrum of the shoulder was operated on in January, and only rest and rehab will get him back on the field.

Clearly, the Phil's minor league system is struggling mightily this year, and injuries to Fisher, Jones, Richardson, Hamels, Zack Segovia and Darren Naatjes are a major reason.  Let's hope that we get our third sackers back as soon as possible.

Thanks for the question, Jason, and I hope you stay with the Phillie Pulse all summer to get your questions answered!

Q: On The Phil's Need for a Leadoff Hitter, from Bobby Person, Pottstown, PA

Hey! CD, I was wondering if the Phils are planning any moves to address their need for a leadoff hitter? 

CD says…
Actually, Bobby, the answer is yes, but it may not be soon enough for your tastes.  As you may know if you have followed my Phuture Phillie Phenoms column, the team has not one, but two potential leadoff types playing side by side in Lakewood, a Class A affiliate. 

Michael Bourn and Javon Moran are young outfielders, with leadoff type skills.  Both are lightening quick, and have definite opportunities for advancement.  However, even if they advance quickly, we will not see them at Citizen's Bank Park before the year 2007.

So, unless Bobby Abreu has an epiphany and realizes what a wonderful asset he could be to this club at the top of the order, we must hope that Marlon Byrd continues to progress at this spot.  To be honest, the typical lead off hitter is becoming an endangered species.  The days of a Ricky Henderson or Tim Raines are fast becoming as rare as the complete game.

In that regard, the Phils are not that much different than the Braves, Giants, Dodgers or Red Sox.  All of these fine teams lack a get on base often hitter at the top of the order.  At least with Byrd, we can be comforted by his .300 average last year, his desire to improve, and the probability that he will continue to improve as he matures. 

Great question, Bobby, and welcome to the Phillie Pulse.  Hope this answer will convince to hang out with us this year, and please feel free to write again soon!


Q: On The Latest Aaron Boone Reports, from Dominick Patrone, Richmond, VA

Hey! CD, I recall that earlier this spring, you advocated the possible signing of free-agent Aaron Boone after his release from the New York Yankees.  What is the latest on his recovery, and is there any mutual interest now?

CD says…
Ah, Dom, indeed there is news on Boone's recovery, and happily for the Boone family, it is a favorable one.  He is recovering quicker than expected, and should be ready to resume full time action in early August.

Unfortunately, the rest of the news is not so favorable.  As you may recall, I thought the Phils should approach Boone about a two-year deal immediately after his surgery, and release.  My thinking was that with his dad, Bob Boone, working for the Phils, the Phils probably could get a bargain on a player at his least advantageous negotiating period.

I suggested that the Phils could give him a small base salary for 2004, with the agreement that he could rehabilitate the knee under the supervision of Phillie doctors.  If and when he was able to play, his contract could be adjusted.  I also thought an option deal for 2005 would make sense for both parties.

My rationale for this was two-fold… one, Boone is a solid player when healthy, and would add speed, power and the Boone name to the Phillie organization.  The second reason was that I feared injuries to David Bell and Placido Polonco, and I thought Boone and Chase Utley would provide first-rate insurance.

With the news of Polonco's recurring thigh injury, it appears that I was correct in this assessment.  Not only does Polonco's injury seem chronic, but also Bell has been battling tiny hurts all spring.  It appears more a matter of when, than if he is too injured to play on a daily basis.

Predictably, as the news of Boone's return to good health surfaces, the suitors are beginning to swarm.  The LA Dodgers are the latest to announce their interest in making Boone a starting second baseman in Dodger Blue.  Expect the Yankees, Cubs and Giants to all make bids on Boone.

Personally, I think it would have shown great foresight on the part of GM Ed Wade to have proactively signed Aaron Boone.  Sadly, I think that horse is now out of the barn.  Boone is now in the spot of comparing offers, and it is highly doubtful that the Phils can outbid the Yanks or Dodgers.

This, my friend, appears to have been an opportunity lost.

Q. On Next Year's Phillie Prospects, from Drew McGill, Jupiter, FL

Hey! CD, I am excited by the success of pitcher Ryan Madson and wonder whom we might expect to see in Philadelphia next year? 

CD says…
It is very nice to see some of the veteran readers returning with their thought provoking questions.  Nice to see you again, Drew!   Regarding the 2005 make up of the Philadelphia Phillies, I can honestly say that much depends on how they finish in 2004. 

If they win the NL East, or at least qualify as a wild card team, then perhaps the team will be allowed to return for one more shot at a World Series birth. If, however, the team once again under performs, then I believe we may see wholesale changes, from the manager to the coaching staff, and on to the field of play.

In fact, it would not surprise me if we saw a 40% make over in personnel if this team continues to flounder.  Certainly, Manager Larry Bowa and most of his staff will be held accountable, and players like Kevin Millwood, Eric Milton, Roberto Hernandez, Todd Pratt, Shawn Wooten, Doug Glanville, Placido Polonco and Tomas Perez may be jettisoned.

Clearly, this is a year of decision, but regardless of the finish of this year's club, there will be changes made.  Given this fact, I think that several players may have the opportunity to become fixtures in Philadelphia in 2005.

Heading the list is Chase Utley, a second baseman who was brought up only yesterday.  If he establishes himself this year, and I think he will, this will offer hope and encouragement to several of his minor league teammates.

Pitchers like Geoff Geary, Josh Hancock, Eric Junge and David Coggin will certainly be given a chance to make the squad, as will either catcher AJ Hinch or Michael Hernandez.  Another player with a decent chance of making the squad is shortstop Anderson Machado.

The most intriguing player to keep an eye on is hot pitching prospect, Gavin Floyd, currently at Reading.  The Phils don't like to talk too loudly about it, but they privately hope that Floyd is ready to take his place in the rotation.

With both Millwood and Milton in their free agency years, it is highly unlikely that the Phils can afford both.  Having Floyd primed and ready for the big leagues would not only help fortify their pitching staff, but would provide welcome relief in the salary department.

It is quite obvious that 2005 appears to provide a great opportunity for advancement in the Phillie system.  Thanks for the question, Drew, and don't be a stranger to the Pulse, write again soon!
Columnist's Note: 
Thank you for your continued patronage. Keep the questions coming and I'll keep responding.  Please send all questions to hey_cd@earthlink.net    Until next time!
Allen Ariza aka CD

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