February 08, 2005

Who's Who of Spring Invitees

Getting invited to a tupperware party ain't so great, but these ex-Phillies would never turn down an invitation to spring training.

By Will Travel / BPF Correspondent

I'm fascinated with players that keep playing, holding out hope of keeping the career alive and a chance to put off working a regular job.

I wish these Ex-Phil invitees the best, but you won't be a contender with a rotation of these former STARTING PITCHERS:

- Terry Mulholland, Twins, (PHL 89-93,96)
- Andy Ashby, Padres, (PHL 91-92,00)
- Joe Roa, Pirates, (PHL 02-03)
- Russ Springer, Astros, (PHL 95-96)
- Bruce Chen, Orioles, (PHL 00-01)

Mike Morgan, beware. 27-year-old Chen is already with his 9th different organization.

With that group of starters, you’re certainly going to need these RELIEF PITCHERS:

- Toby Borland, Cards, (PHL 94-96)
- Turk Wendell, Astros, (PHL 01,03)
- Roberto Hernandez, Mets,(PHL 04)
- Jim Crowell, Marlins, (PHL 04)
- Eddie Oropesa, Cubs, (PHL 01)

Toby Borland

And for those of you with really great memories, some LESSER-KNOWN RANDOM HURLERS:

- Kirk Bullinger, Pirates, (PHL 00)
- Matt Whiteside, Blue Jays, (PHL 98).

Still no word on Omar Daal and Valerio de los Santos.

For the fine hurlers we’ve assembled, you need some fine CATCHERS:

- Bobby Estalella, Reds, (PHL 96-99)
- Kelly Stinnett, Diamondbacks, (PHL 03)

Playing very deep, you need the sure-handedness of these OUTFIELDERS

- Midre Cummings, Orioles, (PHL 97)
- Billy McMillon, Red Sox, (PHL 97)

Quite a year for Phillies outfielders in 1997. The Phils used six center fielders, 11 right fielders and eight left fielders.

Do the names Tartabull, Otero, Hudler, Magee, Barron, Daulton, Jeffries, May, Amaro, Butler, Robertson bring back fond memories? How about these PRETTY GOOD OUTFIELDERS:

- Reggie Taylor, Rockies, (PHL 00-01)
- Doug Glanville, Yankees, (PHL 98-02,04)

Sorry, no golden gloves for these INFIELDERS:

- 1b Shawn Wooten, Red Sox,(PHL 04)
- 2b Marlon Anderson, Mets,(PHL 98-02)
- SS Jose Flores, Dodgers (???)

OK, Flores never played in Philadelphia, but he was a farmhand from 94-99, somehow skipping Reading.

Also, Kevin Stocker cannot be located, and Chris Gomez was only a Phil on paper for about 48 hours and David Doster (PHL 96,99) usually gets invited, but because he has been in Mexico playing winter ball, he probably hasn't checked his mailbox recently.


- 3b Travis Chapman, Reds, (PHL 03)

Yes, Travis played 1 game with 1 AB.

Travis Chapman

If we included ex-Reading Phils the list gets too long, but I'm happy to see the Mets invited ex-BoSox and ex-Reading Phillie Andy, "The Singing Nun" Dominique ... "oh Dominique."

Andy Dominique

I hope I didn't miss anyone, and I am sure some invites are still in the mail.

Will Travel is an avid Phillies fan and global traveler based in Kutztown, Pa. He’s always interested in reading about the strange global pursuits of ex-players. E-mail him at martin@berkleigh.webmail.com.

Charlie says 'Relax'

Like the cheerful '80s band Frankie Goes to Hollywood, pictured right, Charlie Manuel and the smiling faces of the new Phillies coaching staff are telling players to 'Relax.'

Ken Mandel and Mike Gennaria of mlb.com finally did what I would have done months ago with access to MLB personnel: offer detailed profiles of manager Charlie Manuel and the completely revamped coaching staff.

Imagine going to work to find your boss, your boss's boss, your boss's boss's boss, and his boss replaced by a barbershop quartet.

That's what it could feel like in the Phillies dugout this season. The names Bill Dancy, Mark Bombard and Rich Dubee may not be familiar to fans, but in baseball, they're considered excellent coaching talents with agreeable personalities. In fact, they're already singing the same tune:

Charlie Manuel: "I want our teams to be relaxed, loose and play hard each day,"
Rich Dubee: "I wanted guys that love the game. Guys that can relax, but guys that know the best way to have fun is to win."
Mark Bombard: "I think the big thing is being positive."

Wow. It's enough to bring Eagles fans off suicide watch.

Some critics grumble about players' managers, also saying the new staff lacks major-league experience.

But just as players earn respect and gain experience through the minor league system, it's no different with managers.

First-base coach and former Scranton manager Mark Bombard may not have been a member of the 1980 Phillies, but he was once named minor league manager of the year by USA Today. In fact, his 1,556 career victories leads all active minor league managers, Mandel reported.

Fans won't hear anymore tales of the pitching coach getting into players' heads. New coach Rich Dubee promises to be more hands-off than professor Joe Kerrigan, who reportedly clashed with players and tinkered too often with mechanics. Fans of practical baseball philosophy will appreciate his refreshing approach that stresses location and control.

"We have a good defensive club," he said. "When you look at our infield, it's pretty solid. I hope that's how we attack people - keep the ball on the ground as much as possible, and use [the infielders]."

And how's this for a thoughtful interpretation of Citizen’s Bank Park?

"I think you've got to give a park some time before you say it's a bandbox or it plays small. The fact of the matter is it's our home ballpark. If we keep the ball down and in the middle of the ballpark, we'll be successful."

BPF Take
Never one to believe managers impact the game as a pitcher pitches, a hitter hits, and a fielder fields, I'm going with gut instinct in saying Manuel and company will have a positive impact on performance and keep the Phils loose all season.

Good writing
The staff at MLB.com, including Mandel and Gennaria, are compiling the best damn Phillies writing on the Web these days. Check them out at phillies.com, and see what you think about the new coaching regime and other topics.

February 07, 2005

Final results of NL East poll

More than 50 percent of voters thought the offseason acquisition of CF Carlos Beltran will have the greatest impact on the NL East next season.

Beltran was considered by many the prize of free agency, and gives the Mets a much-needed run-producing threat.

85 voters took part in the survey, asking participants to select from 10 offseason moves.

The bulk of first-time participants were directed to the poll from the Mets-themed Always Amazin’ Weblog ... thanks for the link, Jason.

Carlos Delgado earned the second-most votes with 13, followed by Tim Hudson, earning 12 votes, including one from the Berks Phillies Fan.

Here are the final totals:
1. Carlos Beltran: 44
2. Carlos Delgado: 13
3. Tim Hudson: 12
4. Pedro Martinez: 9
5: Charlie Manuel: 3
6: Danny Kolb/John Smoltz: 3*
7: Nationals to Washington: 1
8-10: Jon Lieber, Al Lieter, Esteban Loazia: 0

* 2 votes for negative impact

BPF ranking:
1. Tim Hudson
2. Carlos Delgado
3. (Tie) Charlie Manuel & Pedro Martinez
5: Nationals to Washington
6: (Tie) Carlos Beltran & Jon Lieber
8: Danny Kolb/John Smoltz
9: Al Leiter
10: Esteban Loazia

Spectator injury raises legal questions

A dentist who was temporarily blinded by a Jimmy Rollins foul ball is seeking $50,000 in damages from the Phillies and the city of Philadelphia. Does he have a case?

The AP reported that Neil Pakett was struck in the face during a 2001 game at Veterans Stadium and said he would have been protected had the backstop met the recommendations set by "Architectural Graphic Standards," and if the backstop had been angled differently. Pakett claims his eyesight is still not fully recovered.

The defense argued that case law dictates that fans take on the responsibility of protecting themselves when they attend sporting events.

BPF take
Pakett's injuries are unfortunate, but are not the fault of the Phillies or the city of Philadelphia.

The path of a baseball is decided by chance. A baseball could theoretically sail anywhere to varying degrees, an understood risk of baseball.

Most baseballs that leave the playing field travel back and out of play, in the area where Pakett was seated and argues should have been protected more had the Phillies followed the recommendations set by "Architectural Graphic Standards."

I searched and couldn't find anything on whether "Architectural Graphic Standards," an illustrated book of building construction, was considered an official guideline for major league backstops.

In reality, there are no mandated stadium safety requirements other than fire exits and capacity restrictions. In fact, stadium operators are not bound to protect or warn spectators from "expected" incidents like foul balls. That means backstops are entirely optional, making the backstop, its size and angle, irrelevant to the case.

Pakett isn't asking for the sky - only $50,000 – but history will prevail in this case. Even if decades of case law were thrown out, an important fact in this report is Pakett "attempted to catch the ball," according to court documents. Small as it may be, there is a difference between catching the ball and protecting yourself.