Wednesday, March 05, 2008
There was a nice little article in the February 25, 2008, edition of The Sporting News entitled “Producing Happy Campers” (pages 44-45) about Spring Training. The article noted a few small differences between the Phillies and Mets last year where the Phillies edged the Mets on seemingly innocuous matters: the Phillies were caught stealing just 19 times in 157 attempts, while the Mets were caught 46 times in 252 tries. Phillies pitchers had a better fielding percentage than Mets pitchers did: .970 to .961 … The differences, so slight, might have amounted to an extra win in the standings, and in the Phillies case that one play successfully made, that one mistake avoided, gave the Phillies the N.L. East and sent the Mets home. And the seeds for that success were planted in the bright sunshine of Spring Training.
Last season I credited the Phillies phenomenal success in stealing bases and their general abilities on the bases to the tutelage of first base coach Davey Lopes, who preached a doctrine of aggressiveness to a team that had been slower and more methodical on the bases in the past. That emphasis on speed was what honed the blade of the Phillies razor, I thought, and thus I heaped the lions share of credit on Lopes.
The Sporting News article makes the case for bench coach Jimy Williams as The Man behind the Phillies success in 2007. Praised by Braves manager Bobby Cox as “the best in the game”, Williams will basically run the Phillies until the team gets north in April. Williams teaching is important because the Phillies utilize young players a lot. I think one of the things that is lost in all of the talk about the Phillies playoff chances this season is that the future is brighter for the Phillies than it is for the older Mets. All of the key Phillies are young – Kyle Kendrick is 22, Cole Hamels is 23, Shane Victorino, Brett Myers and Ryan Madson are 26, Ryan Howard is 27, and Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley are all 28 – and are committed to the team for 2008, 2009 and most for 2010. In some way or another all of these players are products of either the Phillies farm system or extensive teaching with Williams. Williams turned Victorino from a fast player into a major threat to steal bases. 24-year old Michael Bourn, now with the Houston Astros, was a major help to the Phillies last season.
Here is a link to the article, which was pretty interesting stuff.
Meanwhile, Spring Training rolls along, with the Phillies dropping a 10-1 decision to the Atlanta Braves, watching as Kyle Kendrick served up seven runs in two and 2/3 of an inning of work. Suddenly Kendrick's spot as the #4 starter doesn't look so secure ...
Eric Brunlett is hitting .429 ... Not bad. This year's candidate for surprising new addition?
Best wishes to Davey Lopes on his surgery for prostate cancer.
A couple more weeks and things will be much clearer for the team.
Hopefully by the last week of March, it will be obvious who our #4/#5 1-2 punch will be.
check it out ..
check it out ..