VIPs: Very Important Phillies - Part One

It takes a village to put a winning team on the field. With that in mind, it's time to take a look at the village that is building the 2009 Phillies and find out just who is important.

While the players may be the names that everyone knows, there are a lot of other people in an organization that play important roles. Some are seen and known, while others are rarely, if ever, in front of the press or even mentioned.

Our first annual list of the VIPs - Very Important Phillies - is not a list of greatness or a list of power. It's a list of importance, based on the jobs that need to be done and the people who are in charge of doing those jobs.

25. Steve Noworyta - Director of Minor League Operations

Make no mistake about Steve Noworyta. You might not know his name, but he is a key part of the Phillies organization and knows how to shift talent through the minors. Noworyta plays a key behind-the-scenes role in the minor league system and is able to let the other front office brass know where the holes are and why they should be considered holes. While Amaro is likely to look to some of the new faces for fresher opinions, he won't - and shouldn't - ignore Noworyta, who flat out knows his stuff. Keep his name in mind, because while his name may not be known very well by the public, there are a lot of people around baseball who know and respect Noworyta and see him as a potential Major League GM someday relatively soon.

26. Dallas Green - Senior Advisor to the GM

Don't think that Dallas Green doesn't make his voice heard. His most important asset is that he has the backing and the ear of David Montgomery and he's going to be a part of the Phillies front office as long as he wants to if Montgomery stays around. His influence takes a dip with the passing of each GM that comes through town and it suffered a big dip when organization outsider Pat Gillick was hired. With one of his former batboys taking over as GM, Green's influence may be trending upward slightly, but not significantly.

27. Milt Thompson - Hitting Coach

The Phillies offense didn't provide near the potency that most thought that it would in 2008, but it provided enough for the Phillies to call themselves World Champions. Thompson hasn't looked for much recognition, but he has quietly gained the respect of some of the top hitters on the club, who seek out his advice and are open to his input and criticism. He brings a level-headed approach to the job and embraces the "high-tech" approaches to analyzing hitters, while not abandoning his old-school principles of how to hit in the majors.

28. J.A. Happ - Pitching Prospect

Finding his way onto the post-season roster even though he wasn't highly utilized, was somewhat of a coup for young J.A. Happ. The fact that he was there said lots about the respect that Charlie Manuel and the coaching staff have for his potential and his ability to hold his own in a key spot. Happ is also important because he is one of the young guns being counted on to hold down a spot in the Phillies rotation in 2009 and plays the dual role of being potential trade bait should the Phillies decide to package him in a deal for another key piece of the puzzle - most likely a veteran starter for the rotation.

29. Carlos Carrasco - Pitching Prospect

The Phillies are going to need either Happ or Carrasco to step into the rotation either at the start of the 2009 season or at some point during the season. Carrasco has been the long-awaited co-ace that is figured on to give the Phillies a young lefty-righty combo at the top of their rotation as he and Cole Hamels figure to be dominant pitchers for years to come in the majors. Be patient though, because a little more time at Triple-A might be the best medicine for Carrasco, whose arrival will be trumpeted much like Hamels' arrival was when he put injuries behind him and took over a part in the Phillies rotation.

30. Harry Kalas - Hall of Fame Broadcaster

Yes, he's getting older and the cracks are beginning to show. Many times, Harry cranks up his patented "long fly ball..." home run call only to have wasted the sound on a ball that came up perhaps even shy of the warning track. Players names are sometimes confused and his skills simply ain't what they used to be, but he's still Harry Kalas. He's still the man that has lent his voice to the soundtrack of Phillies baseball and is irreplaceable. When there were rumors a couple of years back that Kalas might be left go at the end of his contract, fans flooded the Phillies with phone calls, e-mails and letters demanding that Kalas return for as long as he wanted to, which is basically the deal that he has with the Phillies. It will be a sad day when Kalas calls his last game, but it will eventually come and perhaps we better start to prepare for it now.

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