My salad days,
When I was green in judgment, cold in blood,
To say as I said then!
William "Author" Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra.
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.
Andrew Marvell "Wynne"
Dallas Green offers us his thoughts on the upcoming Phillies season:
"This team has been together for a good amount of time now. It's time it played up to its capabilities...
"It's time for them to look in the mirror and recognize that they're the ones who have to perform," Green said. "It's not the manager that has to perform. They can blame [ex-manager Larry] Bowa for last year, but now there's no one to blame.
"I think they're smart enough to realize that the onus is on them. Quit barking and whining. Stop worrying about the ballpark, the manager and the pitching coach and play ball. And win."
He pulled the same crap in 1980. He opened training camp with "There's no I in Team" and things went downhill from there. He alienated the players and in turn the team hated him right back. But it wasn't one of those inspirational types of hatred, like George Scott employed to motivate his troops in "Patton". The Phils meandered for three quarters of the season that year. As a matter of fact, on August 26, 1980, after the Phils lost two in a row by the same abysmal score,8-4, to the Dodgers at home, they were in third place, 3 and one-half games behind Pittsburgh and three full behind Montreal for second. They ended up winning it all after Ron Reed and a few others led a meeting to win in spite of Green. And then Green becomes a local legend even though his greatest accomplishment in the game was fleecing the Phils out of Ryne Sandberg as the Cubs' GM a couple of years later.
Did it ever occur to Green that maybe they are playing up to their potential? Their biggest problems are the rotation, CF, and leadoff hitter. Rollins played better than he had in years and took care of #3 last year, and they still ended up out of the money. This year they pick up an aging and currently injured Kenny Lofton and pronounce the CF/leadoff hole filled. They pick up Lieber and Lidle and say the rotation is fixed. Not to mention that Abreu, Thome, and Rollins who were all very good to great last year, could and probably will experience some sort of dropoff. Their other biggest problem is age and they pick up Lofton and Lieber, can't find a decent young catcher to relieve aging Mike Lieberthal, and are begrudgingly giving Gavin Floyd a look as a starter. And I won't even go into Ed Wade's lackey, Charlie Manuel.
And yet according to an unnamed baseball official, "They're telling people they need to win now." That's a great negotiating technique, right above openly weeping.
Green acknowledges the problems "This team still needs work, in my opinion," but his advice is woefully inadequate "The starters [i.e., starting pitchers] need to pick it up. I see us making too many mistakes. We're hitting a lot of bats." You can't pick up what you never had.
Green comments on Vicente Padilla's injury, "We say Padilla's fine, but he worries me because he isn't back yet"that's logic"Until I see it competitively, I'm worried. Not having him puts added pressure on two kids: Myers and Floyd. To go for a championship with two kids, even though we like them a lot, is tough."
Thank god the Phils are "putting pressure" on Gavin Floyd. He's the only starter that looks like he might be a number one pitcher at least some time in the future. However, if Green and the Phils' brass had their way, he'd start the year in Scranton.
They had all but given the #5 spot in the rotation to the execrable Brett Myers, who in two and one-half years in the majors has done nothing positive but back into 14 wins in 2003 (with a 4.43 ERA). Myers had an awful 5.52 ERA last year and saw his strikeout numbers drop and his home runs allowed balloon. He owns a career ERA that is 14 points worse than the park-adjusted league average (a whopping 4.84) in 441 innings.
Myers is the latest in failed pitching prospects whose failure the Phils never seem to be able to acknowledge. Whether it's Pat Combs, Jim Wright, Marty Bystrom, Charlie Hudson, Bruce Ruffin, Don Carman or any of another two or three dozen pitchers the Phils have produced in the last 30 years, the Phils stuck by them as they ate a whole in the rotation. Dallas Green himself was a prospect who threw his arm out in the minors for the Phils and yet was given the opportunity to chew up a spot on their staff for the better part of five seasons.
Green's assessment of Myers bears this out, "I think Brett will take a step forward this season. His confidence is building. He's got great stuff. I'm looking for the maturity to kick in and him not to get flustered when things go bad. If he can do that, it will be a big plus."
The reality is that Myers owns a 7.94 ERA this spring and the best that can be said is that it's lower than Wolf's and Lidle's.
Maybe Green and the Phils' brass should take a look in the mirror and admit that they are not doing their best for the team instead of demanding the players do it themselves.