Out of Left Field: Mulder or Burrell?

When it comes to naming the all-time Phillies, fans aren't shy about expressing their opinion. Last week's all-time Phillies list is expanded to having a second team list thanks to astute readers. Plus, the 1998 Draft is seen as one of the best ever for the Phillies, but could it have been even better? The Phillies might have made a mistake - you decide!

I was overwhelmed with responses to my column last week in which I invited you to send me your list of the All-Time best Phillies at each position. I was very impressed with the knowledge that you sent my way; you are the reason that people say Philly fans are very knowledgeable. Each and every one of you provided some great insight and astute observations. Have I laid it on thick enough yet?

After tabulating the votes, you came to the same conclusions that I did regarding the make-up of the All-Time Phillies team, confirming once and for all that I am a baseball genius (yeah, right.)

Actually, I truly was impressed with the responses that I received. For the record, Schmitty and Lefty were the only unanimous selections among the voters. Larry Bowa was a near unanimous selection at shortstop, but there was a groundswell of support for Granny Hamner, the Phils shortstop from the 1950 "Whiz Kids" team. Darren "Dutch" Daulton received some votes over Bob Boone at catcher, and several responded in defense of Boone's supposed "muff" in Game Six of the 1980 World Series, placing the responsibility on Pete Rose for being out of position.

Speaking of Rose, I was a little surprised by how many of you agreed with me that Rose is our All-Time first baseman. I expected to get more negative feedback on that pick than any of the other ones, but the majority of you agreed with me. Jim Thome received quite a number of votes, though, and I don't think it will be too much longer before Big Jim supplants Rose at that position.

By far, the closest voting was at second base, where I had picked Manny Trillo, a short time Phillie, but a key member of the 1980 World Champions. Many of you liked Trillo as well, but there was much support for Tony Taylor and old-timer Nap Lajoie. In fact, if Taylor and Lajoie had not split the remainder of the votes, then George Bush would not be President today, errrr I mean, Manny Trillo would not be the second baseman.

Lajoie is an interesting choice. A Hall-of Fame second baseman who began his career as the Phillies first baseman in 1896, he had some great years with the Phillies but had his greatest years as the Cleveland Indians second baseman. He also played for the Philadelphia Athletics. I didn't consider Lajoie because he played barely 300 games for the Phillies at second base, but his record in those 300 games is quite remarkable and he certainly deserves mention.

As expected, quite a few of you thought I was all-wet with my choice for manager - Danny Ozark - but there was really no overwhelming favorite among you either. Dallas Green was on the majority of ballots, but Eddie Sawyer, the manager of the 1950 club, was also quite popular. I was a little surprised that no one mentioned Jim Fregosi, but most of you seem to feel that the 1993 team won because of Dutch Daulton's leadership.

Since the tabulated ballots did not change any of the players I placed on the All-Time roster, I decided to make a second team based on the additional votes received. So here they are, the Out of Left Field All-Time Phillies First and Second Teams:
  • Catcher: Bob Boone and Darren Daulton
  • First Base: Pete Rose and Jim Thome
  • Second Base: Manny Trillo and Tony Taylor/Nap Lajoie
  • Third Base: Mike Schmidt
  • Shortstop: Larry Bowa and Granny Hamner
  • Left Field: Ed Delahanty and Greg Luzinski
  • Center Field: Richie Ashburn and Garry Maddox
  • Right Field: Chuck Klein and Johnny Callison
  • Righthanded Starting Pitcher: Robin Roberts and Grover Cleveland Alexander
  • Lefthanded Starting Pitcher: Steve Carlton
  • Relief Pitcher: Tug McGraw and Jim Konstanty
  • Manager: Dallas Green and Eddie Sawyer
  • Mascot: Phanatic (My apologies for not including him before)
Thanks again for all of your votes. The response to that column was so great that I have decided to add a poll-type question as a regular feature to my weekly column.

Here is the next subject: Seven years ago, the Phillies held the number one selection in baseball's first year player draft. There was much trepidation going into the 1998 draft for the Phillies, who were still smarting from being spurned by J.D. Drew the year before. The Phillies needed to make a decision between College Player of the Year Pat Burrell, the third baseman for the National Champion Miami Hurricanes, or Mark Mulder, the big lefthander from Michigan State University.

Burrell played a position that the Phillies already had a great young star playing - Scott Rolen - and there were concerns about a back problem. They were also short of top notch starting pitching, as their rotation in 1998 consisted of: Curt Schilling (15-14, 3.25), Mark Portugal (10-5, 4.44), Tyler Green (6-12, 5.03), Carlton Loewer (7-8, 6.09), and Matt Beech (3-9, 5.15).

The Phillies didn't think Burrell could play third base in the major leagues, and they were still on good terms with Scott Rolen at the time. They did, however, think that Burrell could play the other corner position that was currently occupied by Rico Brogna. They were also on good footing with Burrell's agent, Jeff Moorad, and felt they would not have difficulty signing the huge hitting talent, so they elected to draft Burrell with the number one pick.

Despite having a disastrous 2003 season, in which he hit just .209, with 21 home runs and 64 RBI, Burrell is still considered to have tremendous upside. He has hit 103 home runs and driven in 348 runs in his first four seasons. He seems to be back on track this season, hitting .294 with 11 home runs and 46 RBI. He is certainly a key to our offense, both now and in the future.

The Oakland Athletics made Mark Mulder the second overall pick in the 1998 draft, and Mulder rose quickly through the minor leagues and has established himself as one of the rising stars in the game. Arriving in the major leagues the same year as (and at a younger age than) Pat Burrell, Mulder has amassed a record of 64-34 with the A's, including a 21-8 mark during the 2001 season. This year Mulder is 8-2 with a 2.97 ERA for Oakland.

So, my question to you is: If you could have a do-over on the 1998 draft, who would you select for the Phillies with the top pick: Pat Burrell, Mark Mulder, or someone else entirely? Send me an email with your selection, and the reason(s) why you would make the selection. I look forward to hearing from you.

DN Curry comes to you Out of Left Field every Thursday at PhillyBaseballNews.com. You can email him at dncurry@comcast.net

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