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Click here for more on this story
Posted: Saturday February 10, 2001 1:18 AM

Philadelphia Phillies
Team Page | Roster | Spring Training Schedule | Regular Season Schedule
On this page: Arrivals | Departures | Spring Cleaning | Team Breakdown | Prospects | Predictions


   Scott Rolen should put up huge numbers this season if he can avoid the disabled list. Tom Hauck/Allsport

By B. Duane Cross, CNNSI.com

After garnering only 720 wins during the past 10 seasons -- and finishing no closer than 20 games behind (except for its World Series season of 1993) -- the Philadelphia Phillies hired former shortstop Larry Bowa as manager in an attempt to reverse the franchise's fortunes. He replaces Terry Francona, who posted a four-season record of 285-363.

Use any adjective -- fiery, scrappy, etc. -- to describe Bowa during his playing days, but one thing was constant: Philadelphia won. From 1976-80, the Phillies averaged 93 victories, and Bowa was the starting shortstop on the '80 world championship team.

Bowa's first stint as a major league manager was a forgettable 81-127 effort with the San Diego Padres in 1987-88. "Everyone thinks I was Charles Manson in San Diego," he said. "It just wasn't a good situation to be in for your first time. But looking back, I definitely wasn't ready." Thirteen years later, time will tell if he learned anything from his left-coast days. However, it's Bowa's in-your-face style that the Philly brass is hopeful will spur the team.

 
Top Guns
Phillies 2000 team leaders
Avg.  Bobby Abreu  .316 
HR  Scott Rolen  26 
RBIs  Scott Rolen  89 
SB  Doug Glanville  31 
Wins  Randy Wolf  11 
ERA  Robert Person  3.63 
Ks  Robert Person  164 
Saves  Jeff Brantley  23 
 
Go Figure

.207

Team batting average with runners in scoring position last season -- worst in the majors.
 
 

Philadelphia has a strong nucleus of young position players, including outfielder Bobby Abreu (.316, 25 HR, 79 RBIs), outfielder Pat Burrell (.260, 18, 79), catcher Mike Lieberthal (.278, 15, 71) and third baseman Scott Rolen (.298, 26, 89). All are capable of 25-homer, 100-RBI seasons. Toss in 25-year-old first baseman Travis Lee (.235, 9, 54), acquired in the Curt Schilling trade last season, and the Phillies have a potentially potent offense.

The good news is that the Phillies will be playing on a synthetic grass surface at Veterans Stadium. The bad news is that they'll be playing behind a motley collection of pitchers.

The Phillies' top pitchers each won 13 games last season -- in the minor leagues. Brandon Duckworth (Reading), Evan Thomas (Scranton-Wilkes Barre) and Brett Myers (Piedmont) will not make a difference this season, but do provide hope for the future.

In the meantime, Bruce Chen (7-4, 3.29 ERA), Randy Wolf (11-9, 4.36) and Robert Person (9-7, 3.63) will get the ball every fifth day. Chen, acquired from the Atlanta Braves in the Andy Ashby swap, is the most promising of the lot. In fact, the Chen-Ashby deal could be to the Phillies what the Doyle Alexander-for-John Smoltz trade was for the Braves in the late 1980s. Nineteen-game loser Omar Daal is slated to be the fourth starter.

Philadelphia bolstered its bullpen by adding Ricky Bottalico (9-6, 4.83, 16 saves), Rheal Cormier (3-3, 4.61) and Jose Mesa (4-6, 5.36, 1 save). However, the trio combined did not approach the 23 saves recorded by Jeff Brantley, who left via free agency. Bottalico was an All-Star with the Phillies in 1996-97, but Mesa will likely be given first crack at the closer's job.

For more on the Phillies, bookmark this page and check back Wed., March 21 for a Sports Illustrated Scouting Report.


Arrivals
Pos.  Player  From  Via 
RHP  Ricky Bottalico  Royals  Free Agency 
LHP  Rheal Cormier  Red Sox  Free Agency 
OF  Brian L. Hunter  Reds  Free Agency 
RHP  Jose Mesa  Mariners  Free Agency 

Departures
Pos.  Player  To  Via 
INF  Alex Arias  Padres  Free Agency 
RHP  Kent Bottenfield  Astros  Free Agency 
RHP  Jeff Brantley  Rangers  Free Agency 
RHP  Mike Jackson  Astros  Free Agency 
Tom Prince  Twins  Free Agency  

Spring Cleaning
 
Jimmy Rollins
  • The Phillies have a Rookie of the Year candidate in shortstop Jimmy Rollins. A switch-hitter with 40-steal speed, Rollins could challenge center fielder Doug Glanville for leadoff duties. Bowa expects Rollins to set the tone for the offense much like Rafael Furcal did for Atlanta last year.

  • Glanville was less than ideal as Philadelphia's leadoff hitter in 2000. He did have 204 hits, but only 25 walks and a .317 on-base percentage. Glanville is better suited hitting lower in the lineup and could find himself there by Opening Day -- and not necessarily for the Phillies.

  • Lee must ratchet his game up a notch -- or three. A smooth-swinging lefty, Lee hit 22 home runs and had 72 RBIs his rookie season (1998). In the two seasons since, he has 18. Lee could prove to be a key cog in the Phillies' lineup, and has been taking batting lessons from former major league manager Jim Lefebvre this winter.

  • Mesa must return to his 1999 form. Then again, in the big picture, that may not be a good thing. Yes, he saved 33 games, but only seven saves came when he had to protect a one-run lead. Mesa wasn't all that effective, allowing 84 hits in 68 2/3 innings and barely striking out more hitters than he walked.

  • Team Breakdown
    Projected Lineup  Projected Rotation 
    CF  Doug Glanville  RHP  Robert Person 
    SS  Jimmy Rollins  LHP  Randy Wolf 
    RF  Bobby Abreu  LHP  Bruce Chen 
    3B  Scott Rolen  LHP  Omar Daal 
    LF  Pat Burrell  RHP  Chris Brock 
    Mike Lieberthal  Bullpen  
    1B  Travis Lee  RHP  Ricky Bottalico (closer) 
    2B  Marlon Anderson  LHP  Jose Mesa 
    Key Reserves   RHP  Rheal Cormier 
    OF  Brian L. Hunter  RHP  Wayne Gomes 
    1B/OF  Brian R. Hunter  LHP  Cliff Politte 
    INF  Kevin Jordan  RHP  Vicente Padilla 
    INF  Tomas Perez  RHP  Amaury Telemaco 

    Prospects to Watch

  • OF Eric Valent -- Valent, 23, broke Troy Glaus' home run record at UCLA and was the Phillies' compensation in 1998 for losing J.D. Drew. The lefty has good plate discipline and a strong outfield arm. He will likely begin the year in Class AAA, but could be summoned if the Phils need a bat.

  • RHP Ryan Madson -- A 6-foot-6, 180-pound righty with a low-90s fastball and a sharp-breaking curveball, Madson last season was 14-5 with a 2.59 ERA, third best in the South Atlantic League. Still a few seasons away from making a major impact, Madson could be one of the cornerstones of the franchise once the Phillies' new stadium opens in 2004.

  • RHP Brandon Duckworth -- After slipping through the cracks, the undrafted Duckworth has emerged as a top prospect. A 24-year-old right-hander, Duckworth (13-7, 3.16) led the Eastern League with 178 strikeouts. He has command of a low-90s fastball and a hard-breaking curveball and may challenge for a spot in the Phillies' rotation this year.

  • RHP Brett Myers -- Just more than one year out of high school, Myers is developing into a potential No. 1 starter. A true power pitcher (6-4, 215 pounds), Myers throws in the mid-90s and breaks off a good Uncle Charley, too. The Phillies' 1999 first-round draft choice, Myers is 20 and on the fast track to The Vet.

  • Best-Case Scenario
    First-year manager Bowa will take small increments of success -- finishing .500 should not be considered a long shot. If Chen, Wolf, Person and Daal each win at least 12 games, it will be a good season. A return to form by Lee could make the Philly lineup one of the more formidable in the National League. While no one will mistake Abreu, Burrell, Lieberthal and Rolen for Murderer's Row, the foursome has the potential to make The Vet's waning years special.

    Worst-Case Scenario
    Bowa revives his San Diego persona, does his best Manson imitation and is ejected from more games than he finishes. Or, Daal tops his 1999 loss total, becoming the first major league pitcher to lose 20 games in a season since Brian Kingman for Oakland in 1980. Or, the Phillies' Big 4 -- Abreu, Burrell, Lieberthal and Rolen -- is stricken with Travis Lee disease, sapping them of their long-ball power. Basically, if any combination of players fails to meet minimum expectations, it could be another 70-win season in the City of Brotherly Love.

    Bottom Line
    Anyone who believes Philadelphia will challenge for the NL East title has lost touch with reality. Bowa will not be a miracle worker, but his bench presence may give the Phillies a boost. At the very least, the ticket window will be busier; who knows when Bowa is going to blow his stack, but you gotta be there when he does! General manager Ed Wade still needs to loosen the purse strings ($36.7 million payroll ranked 22nd in the majors last season) and fill the pitching holes via free agency until the farm hands are ready to lend an arm.




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