Jagged Little Phil…


“So Steve O, Diatribe Steve O… What say’eth you regarding the Fightin Phils?” The people have been clamoring night & day, wondering when I was going to share my views on the recently completed 2007 edition of the Philadelphia Phillies.

“Help us Steve O. Guide us Steve O. Show us the way Steve O.” It’s almost embarrassing to have so many people come to you for enlightenment.

Almost.

To keep it from reaching mass hysteria levels, I will now share with you, my thoughts on the Phillies via a self-administered Q&A.

Q: Was this is a successful season.
A: Absolutely. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool.

Q: Should Charlie Manuel have been brought back?
A: A tough question for sure. Immediately following the regular season, I was all for bringing The Unc back. No Major League MENSA for sure, Charlie Manuel possesses other qualities that are inherent in every successful manager. Namely the willingness to take one for his players. Time & again he took the heat so they didn’t have to. And there is no denying the grit & determination the players displayed practically every night and much that emanates from their respect for their manager.

It was not Charlie Manuel who got all of 3 hits in the last game, was it? No, but it was Charlie Manuel who pulled one Kyle for another in Game 2, with dire consequences. There are those who will argue that we will never know what Kyle Kendrick would have done had he been allowed to stay in the game. While that may be true, we DO know one thing: He could not have done any worse. Think about it: Kyle Lohse surrendered a Grand Slam to Kaz Matsui. What’s the worse that Kyle Kendrick could have done? You got it. The exact same thing.

So should Uncle Charlie be back? I was all set to say yes until… Until the possibility of Joe Torre & Tony LaRussa becoming available became public. The problem, in my estimation, is the same problem we have had for years with this ownership group:

Their unwillingness to pay and overpay for talent all in the name of a World Series title. Joe Torre & Tony LaRussa would cost exponentially more than Charlie Manuel. And that’s all you really need to know.

Look, I like The Unc and I think he gets unjustly criticized on occasion by people like me but… when you have a chance to add a Hall of Fame manager in either Torre or LaRussa to this existing squad, you simply owe it to the players and the fans alike to AT THE VERY LEAST explore the possibilities. Of course it’s completely unfair to Charlie but, as we all know, this is a business, first and foremost.

And, to me, this is what’s best for this particular business.

So we now continue on with the Charlie Manuel Experience for at least 2 more years while Torre and LaRussa may end up in other cities with other teams. Obviously only time will tell whether or not we’re better off with or without Uncle Charlie.

Q: Do you make a play for Mariano Rivera?
A: Yes. Yes. A thousand times YES! He will cost plenty (there’s that bottom line again) but if you can sign him, you can then move Brett Myers back into the starting rotation and he and Cole Hamels would form a formidable duo for sure.

Q: What other moves would you make in the offseason?
A: You need to address the pitching, obviously. Going on the assumption that you sign Rivera and move Myers back to the rotation, you can then plug Kendrick and Lohse as your #’s 3 & 4. Yes, they should resign Kyle Lohse. And what of Adam Eaton? Well, ideally you cut him, but again that would require the Phils paying for a player that is not on their roster PLUS admitting their mistake. I would try my darndest to trade him with the stipulation that you would be willing to pick up a chunk of his salary. If not, you are stuck with him and right now, I honestly don’t know where he would fit. Long relief? Nah, not gonna pay a long reliever $8 million per.

From their, you have the issue of middle relief. After JC Romero, there are major problems. And please spare me the “Ryan Madson will be back” nonsense. Never have been and never will be a Ryan Madson fan. So middle relief is an issue that needs addressing.

Then there is the outfield. Aaron Rowand is a free agent and as much as it pains me, if monies are needed elsewhere (i.e. Rivera) and Rowand wants the $10 million we are hearing bandied about, then you may have to let him walk. Of course, there is no salary cap in baseball and the Phillies can do whatever they like and spend whatever is needed to keep Rowand here, but that’s not going to happen and we all know it.

So in my scenario of signing Rivera and losing Rowand, you make a play for Andruw Jones and see if you can get him for less than what Rowand is commanding. If not, plug Victorino or Bourn in Center and/or see what else is available via free agency. Bobby Abreu anyone?

Then there is the issue of 3B. To me the answer is clear. Send Tadahito Iguchi to the Instructional League or wherever and make him your third baseman. If not, look to free agency where names like Mike Lowell will be available. You cannot under any circumstances start the season with Wes Helms as your starting third baseman.

‘Til next time.

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