Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Short Notes

In this morning’s New York Times, columnist Murry Chass writes a very fine piece on the dilemma MLB faces as Barry Bonds begins his final assault on the game’s most hallowed record.

As Chass points out (and as I wrote a few days ago), Bud Selig just wishes the whole did-he-or-didn’t-he thing would go away, refusing to comment on the widespread rumors and some grand jury testimony that Bonds used steroids and other supplements during the last four years excluding last year, when he was sidelined virtually the entire season.  Selig’s dilemma comes down to this:  he wants the “integrity” of the game maintained, a goal that has to include banning illegal substances, but he doesn’t appear to want to confront Bonds about his use of them.

Hats off to people like Chass, who unlike the Commissioner, won’t let the issue go away.

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The blogosphere and its loyal readership are fairly up in arms about, well, the lack of arms for one thing and Pat Gillick’s penchant for talking to let alone signing has-beens and never-weres.  The rumor that the Phils were talking to a clearly over-the-hill B.J.Surhoff generated a gigabyte of incredulity and outrage, but the funny thing (if talking to a 42-year old guy who has spent much of the last five years on the DL can be said to have a humorous side) is, the rumor doesn’t appear to have made it to the newspapers or major sites on the web.

Relax, blogosphere, B.J. isn’t bringing his battered body to Philadelphia.

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Beerleaguer has a short piece on the departed Todd Pratt, in which pitcher Jon Lieber credits Tank with much of his success over the final two months of the season.  

It always seemed to me that Pratt handled the pitchers better than Mike Lieberthal, not simply when setting a target or calling a game, but in managing their egos and temperaments.  Anyone who could get and hold Vicente Padilla’s attention was a real asset.  Now that El Enigma has departed, I guess there wasn’t as much need for Pratt though the Lieber interview makes it clear he had more than a few fans among the pitchers.

Pratt, a fiery guy by all accounts, may not have been too popular with management, however, and in the end their understanding of chemistry was different than that of some players.


J. Weitzel said...

Floyd's first start was a Pratt game, Myers' best game of the season was a Pratt game, and the final half of Lieber's games were all Pratt games. What seems like better pitching when Pratt was behind the dish boardered on fact.

Strangely, Lieberthal was the one who almost exclusively caught Padilla.

I don't fault the Phillies for moving on, however. They need to clear a path to groom a young catcher, something that hasn't been done since Estrada.

Tom Goodman said...

I agree it was time to move on.

I am surprised to learn Lieberthal caught Padilla almost exclusively. I do recall Pratt behind the plate for a few of his starts.

J. Weitzel said...

This is very interesting:

I looked up Padilla in 2005. Lieberthal caught 22 of his games, Pratt caught 5. Toward the beginning when he was still struggling, Pratt was catching many of his games. June 25 was the last time Pratt caught Padilla, a 2.2 inning, 5-run meltdown against Boston. After that, Pratt didn't catch Padilla the rest of the season. That's 16-straight with Lieberthal catching Padilla.

Tom Goodman said...

Wow, that is interesting. Maybe Padilla sent a message to CM through an interpreter that he couldn't take Pratt getting on him any longer.

George S said...

Vicente didn't like Pratt rushing him into throwing a pitch every 2 minutes or so.

Tom Goodman said...

That was probably it, George. I would have loved to have heard that one-sided conversation:

Pratt: When I put down the damn number one stop walking around the damn mound and throw the damn ball.


Pratt: Do you understand what I'm saying, damnit?!!


Pratt: (turning and walking back to the plate) Screw this guy. Let Lieberthal have him.