It isn’t difficult to focus one’s thoughts on the Phillies gathering in
With several new faces joining a host of familiar ones and with a few major decisions still to be resolved, Spring Training figures to be more critical than in the recent past as the Phillies try to break their string of thirteen consecutive seasons without making the playoffs.
Chief among the concerns and hopes is Pat Burrell. Where does he bat in the order? Can he cut down on his strikeouts? Is he healthy? Does he harbor any ill feelings having been roasted, not toasted, by nearly everyone in town? And last but not least, can he rebound again? I haven’t a clue about the first four questions but I will hazard a guess about number five: in a word, no! Whatever spot in the order he bats, Burrell is going to strike out a lot, hit 24 – 30 home runs, drive in at least 85 runs, walk around 80 times, run the bases poorly, field his position adequately at best and not hit much above last season’s .258 average. At this stage of his career, Pat is what he is. There are no more makeovers in the offing. He is a decent offensive force and a below average fielder. Wishing and hoping for a rebound is pointless. If Pat were going to adjust, he would have done so by now. And if he hasn’t adjusted by now it’s because he can’t or won’t.
The Phillies have an alleged surplus of starters but they shouldn’t get too cocky. Fans know all the reasons to be optimistic and they should know all the reasons to be cautious. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Brett Myers is the number one guy. He has never fulfilled all the expectations of him though he occasionally shows flashes of brilliance. All the talk of great stuff does not answer the question that has always come up in any discussion of him: does he have the mental makeup? Count me among the skeptical. If Myers’ alleged makeover above the shoulders is real, you can also count me among the pleasantly surprised.
Cole Hamels had a marvelous second half of his season with the Phils, which was about half a season altogether. The sky is the limit with the gifted left-hander but there are questions about his health. No one can predict how he will hold up physically.
Speaking of health, newcomer Freddy Garcia has thrown a lot of innings over the last several seasons and most
Adam Easton is a flat-out gamble and not an inexpensive one. Anyone who has lost as much time as he has to injuries cannot be counted on as a certainty; after all, he does have a track record. Given the presence of Jon Lieber and the bullpen problems that linger,