The Phillies had a meeting this morning with Players Association Alumni, so the clubhouse access was limited.
Thus, not a whole lot new to report. Well, other than the lineup for the first exhibition game, which will get underway in about 4 hours, against Florida State University:
1. Shane Victorino, CF
2. Placido Polanco, 3B
3. Raul Ibanez, LF
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Ben Francisco, DH
6. Domonic Brown, RF
7. Carlos Ruiz, C
8. Pete Orr, 2B
9. Wilson Valdez, SS
Yes, no Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley.
Aussie right-hander Drew Naylor is starting for the Phils.
As you may have read or seen
by now, Mike Schmidt
spoke at length yesterday. Most of the news that came out of it was regarding his comments on Jimmy Rollins and the offense.
But he talked about pretty much everything else, too. Here's more from Schmidt's Q&A with the media.What do you think about this year's additions to the Fightins?
Maybe the best ever. A lot of this has already been said, winning baseball is about pitching and defense, and second is sort of secondary. If a team is built around something and can be built around the four greatest starters maybe ever assembled on one team, you feel like you've really got a chance, a strong chance of having a great year. Probably deep enough to be able to withstand an injury here and there. If the pitching staff stays healthy all year and Brad and the guys in the middle of the bullpen are healthy and are good, it's going to be an exciting team to watch. Maybe more exciting than any team they've had and they've sure had some exciting ones the last couple years. I'm excited being around here in camp. I haven't had a chance to talk to Roy Halladay yet or Cliff Lee or actually any of them. Cole and I live in the same place and we chatted this morning. I drafted Cliff Lee first in the golf tournament (Friday). I look forward to a day with Cliff Lee. He's got to be able to play golf, doesn't he? Slick left-hander like that? He's got to have some golf game. I feel blessed that I still have a role, though it's bit of a minor role with the team, more of a marketing role now. My relationship with the Phillies right now is as strong as it's ever been. And that part of my life is really good. I'm a very happy man.Any of those lefties remind you of Carlton at all?
More Lee than Hamels. Of course, Hamels is more straight over the top, a fastball-changeup pitcher with an occasional slider. With what I've seen of Cliff Lee on TV, he's more Carlton-like I would think. The slider. The hard slider down and in to a right-hander. The hard slider to a left-hander. Right the fastball up in the strike zone. He's more fastball-slider than he is changeup. That's my opinion. I only watch him on TV, but Lee reminds me more of Carlton than Hamels does.How about the offense? They've been overlooked because guys had some down years.
I think the five-hole hitter, the right-handed presence in the middle of the batting order is very important. Very important. I think Jayson Werth fulfilled that role for us, even though the offense was what I would consider inconsistent last year. I think there was a lot of underachieving on the offensive side of this club last year. I think they would all admit that. Polanco had a fine year. Ryan Howard's numbers ended up being pretty Ryan Howard-like. Other guys were injured, but for the most part when they played all of those would agree they underachieved as hitters last year. The team I think offensively underachieved. It's like Tiger Woods can win a golf tournament or used to be able to win a golf tournament without playing well. Well, the Phillies seemed to prove to me last year they can win the division without really playing well, without clicking on all cylinders all year. Other teams have toughened up in the division. Whether they can do that this year remains to be seen, but they need to get better offensively. There's no doubt about it. I think they all know that. I think to the man they all feel the same way about themselves. I think a lot of them feel like they underachieved last year. I look for big years out of all those guys that feel that. I go right to Rollins and Victorino and Utley. Not so much Ruiz. I think he had a fantastic year. Ryan was all right. Ibanez had a good second half, but a very poor start overall. His year was OK, but not as good as it could be. We have a combination of great things going here. We've got a fantastic starting staff, a good bullpen, always a great defense and a whole bunch of hungry hitters.Can the offensive struggles relate to the fact that most of these guys are 30-years-old or older?
I didn't even know that. I don't see age when I look at this team at all. I don't see any ... maybe with Raul Ibanez. Obviously he's sort of the senior statesman on the offensive side, but I don't think age is anywhere near a factor. I think these guys are all in their prime.What's the best starting rotation you played with?
Played with? Gosh, you know the 79. 80, 81 years, I'd have to say were the best. And I can't remember them actually. It was Ruthven, Carlton, Christenson ... who am I leaving out? I don't know who the fourth starter was then. Walk. Marty Bystrom went 5-0 in September. That's a good starting rotation. And of course the year John Denny won the Cy Young. It was Denny and Bedrosian. Denny and Bedrosian. Or it was Al Holland. One of the two. I never played on a team with a starting staff like this one where, gosh, you hit a home run the first inning or hit a double, get him over, get him in, that has a chance to be a factor in almost every game. A 1-0 lead, a 2-0 lead, is going to win a lot of ballgames for the Phillies. It's great for an offense to have that mindset where we don't need to score eight. We just need to play small ball, little ball, move them. We need to be good at the kind of thing that we're not necessarily known for being good at. I think that's the mantra in the spring here with the hitters and the coaches. If we do our job with our bunts and our advancing runners and our walks and getting on base and turn two or three runs over to Hamels and Lee and Halladay and Blanton and Oswalt, our goal should be 100 wins for sure.What's best rotation you've ever faced?
The best I've faced? Aw man, none compare to what we have here. I thought the Pirates had a pretty good one, going way back to the Candeleria, Blyleven days, I wouldn't remember the other 2 or 3, Jim Bibby at 6-6. That was a strong rotation back in the "we are family" (or) "lumber company" days. They were always good. Montreal had Rogers and Gullickson and Charlie Lee, that was good. Astros always had a good rotation, headed by Ryan, Niekro, Knepper… But not four No.1 guys. I guess you have to go all the way back to Baltimore, the Cuellar, McNally days.Are you surprised Polly played well at third base?
Not at all. I think he's very comfortable over there. he knows the game, plays the game. They all know how the game should be played. But Polanco is the one guy who is willing to play it all the time. He's geared in to that being sort of his game. His game is playing it right. He can play on any team anywhere at any time.What's your take on monster contracts were seeing...
The difference in myself and Albert Pujols, there isn't much difference except in the number of zeroes you're talking about. I spent my whole career with the Phillies and every time my contract came up they made me the highest paid player in baseball before I could become a free agent. Of course until 1988 when they didn't tender me a contract bc I had shoulder surgery and they kind of thought I was at the end. And then Mr. Giles gave me an incentive-based contract that would allow me to make as much money as I did when I was under contract. They made me the highest-paid player.. there may have been some arguments with the Winfield deals in New York. But my annual salary was right there, with guys in the National League anyway. Some of the Yankees were pretty close or slightly surpassing me, but I was always among the top 3 from 1976 all the way to the end of my career. So, we're talking about $2 million vs. $30 million a year. There is quite a bit of difference. But the treatment of the player and the economic times that you're in is very much the same.Is there a satisfaction though, spending entire career with one team?
Sure, I kept my family in the same community, kids in schools. I'm sitting here right now – you know there were some rocky times for reasons we won't go into, nothing serious – but I'm as happy and as content and feel as good about the organization that allowed me to have a major league career, and a post-career relationship that I have now that any player in the history of the game has. You're talking about Yogi Berra and the Yankees or Whitey Ford with Yankees, Stan Musial with the Cardinals, I think I'm in that class. And I think it all has to do with staying in the same town. With Albert Pujols, I think if were all given the same opportunity, I'll throw Jayson Werth out there, as mnay of us that might say Jayson should have stayed in Philly, the future was in Philly but the money was so strong he had to take it. A lot of us would go for the money. (laughs). I never went for the money because the money was always given to me there. In Albert's case, say what you want about it but I don't think there's a very big difference between $25 million and $30 million a year, or $300 million and $270 million. I'm like you guys, I can't relate to those numbers. At one point you fly private, you have a yacht and eight generations of your family are taken care of, right? You never have to worry about a dime for 100 years, your family won't have to worry about it. But I guess the ego and the need to be No.1, the top dog…. But I had it, honestly. My people thought I should be No.1, but fortunately the Phillies thought I should be No.1. The Sports Illustared story came out and it was my picture on there. Not Number 2. So I can't knock and Albert Pujols for wanting to be the highest paid player in the game, because I think I felt I should be when I was in his position. But the numbers are remarkable, unfathomable and I won't use the word the guy from the White Sox used, but I'm not that far off.Is an extra $5 million a year worth sacrificing breaking bond with one team in your mind?
Personally I don't. but I'm 61 years old and I'm not in his shoes. Looking back, St. Louis, great town, great history. Somebody should be sitting down with him, talking to him about all of the benefits. I'm not inferring St. Louis can even get into the fray, from what I hear through the rumor mill, their offer to Albert probably isn't in the top 10. It's pretty darn low. I don't know if they've offered the number he's talking about. He may have to go elsewhere to get that. To end up being the kind of player in the history of the game that ends up playing with one town, I think has value.Have you talked with (new Triple A manager and fellow Hall of Famer) Ryne Sandberg?
“I remember … standing at shortstop, going through they used to call them capers (sp?) and Bobby Wine would hit the little ground balls and we’d be at second and short and work on the exchange – and I remember standing there with Ryne and Larry Bowaand Sammy was probably at second. I just had that picture in my mind yesterday, and Ryne and I got to talking about it. It was ’81 and ’82, the last time he was here.”
“When I saw that, that he got the job, my first thought was, I thought Ryne Sandberg was a lock for the Cubs job, that he had put in his time in the minor leagues, his career was with the Cubs, and I thought, what a perfect guy to manage the Cubs. He went to the minor leagues and won everywhere he went, worked his way up, and when it didn’t happen for him there, the Triple-A job here, what a perfect match that is. He’s a dedicated baseball man.”
“I never got to know him well because I never spent much time with him here, he was an opponent with the Cubs over the years. Starting to get to know him now, at the induction ceremonies at the Hall of Fame, and of course here we locker next to each other. Yesterday all day long we were talking. This morning we were talking. He’s a very astute baseball man. He’s a little different in that regard. A lot of guys that have gained his stature in the sport, Ryne – in fact you can go around and there aren’t many guys in the Hall of Fame that had careers as minor league managers and are looking for careers as major league managers around.”
“I would think at the end of next year, if a managerial job is open, I’m not saying he’ll want to leave the Phillies, but if an opportunity comes, he’s going to be a candidate.”What was most difficult about managing in the minors?
“First of all, go right to money. I lost a lot of money that year, having to work here for the whole summer for $32,000. That may sound like a big number, but the paycheck was pretty low for working 12 hours a day trying to develop players. But I dedicated myself to it. I knew I wasn’t going to be doing it at that level for a lot of years, but I felt it was a great thing to have on my resume. I have a lot of friends from that summer. I learned a lot about myself, that I could do something like that. I didn’t have a very good team. I spent six months right here, and I had a team full of resurrected minor-league free agents. Cole pitched for me for a few months. My centerfielder – Chris Roberson was the only other real prospect I had on the team.” (stuff about Alfredo Simon)
“I didn’t have a very good team, but I fought through that year, and at the end of the year they fired Larry Bowa and Ed Wade refused to interview me for the job that Charlie ended up getting. For the Phillies, I look back and that’s probably the best thing that could have happened to everybody in that mix. The Phillies went (hand motion signaling taking off) from that point on.”Disappointed didn’t get an interview?
“Well yeah, I was kind of disappointed. That was sort of my window to go back into baseball and manage at the major-league level. I don’t have any aspirations to do it anymore based upon my life and where it is and my age and other things I have going. Sandberg, his window is still wide open, and he’s still working his way to go into that window. What we were talking about how sensitive it can be when you have a great player in an organization that ends up working in the organization – a Hall-of-Fame caliber player or Hall of Famer like him – how sometimes how political it can become to whether or not he ever gets hired to manage a major league team. There’s a lot of politics involved in that. People are threatened when a guy like that is around. It may be easier to hire a guy like that, but it’s very hard to fire a guy like that.”Any lingering disappointment?
No, not at allWhat's your major aspiration right now?
Right now, for the next I don't know how long it's going to be, it's up the good Lord, I have four parents who are alive and in care facilities and I think the toughest thing I've ever faced in life is the end days for parents.
You know moving them around and being on call, ready to fly real quick if they're not feeling well. You better get up here or you better come down here real quick. Facing the end days for your parents is very tough. I am the age right now where I was very lucky to have them alive my whole life and now they're 85, 86 and 88.
My wife's father has Alzheimer's and dementia for about six or seven years, so he's just living. He doesn't know anybody or anything and my parents right now have health issues. That's my goal in life is to handle that as best as I can. I have a little granddaughter now that is 15 months and of course that has changed our lives immensely. Her pictures are everywhere. Her name is on my car, my boat, my iPhone. Every where I go is my granddaughter.
It's sort of a different mindset. I play a lot of golf and I still work on my game, but I have no aspirations. In fact, I got my amateur status back, so I'm going to play some amateur events around the country. I'm going to have some fun in that world as a recreational thing.
But for me it's about getting old, taking care of my parents and my grandchildren and that's a good thing. I'm very blessed in life.What do you think about the annual decline of Hall of Fame votes for McGwire?
That just gives me the sense they have a thing about the old association with steroids. Any association with steroids will make it tough. If you had an association with the steroid era. There are a lot of degrees with association, but if you're one of those guys you're going to have a tough time getting into the Hall of Fame.Are you curious to see what happens with Clemens and Bonds?
I'm as curious as anybody. I don't have anything to do with it and I don't feel like going into my opinion about it because there are so many things and so many levels and cases that it wouldn't make any sense for me to comment on those.
We're kind of out of that era in the sport. I really see a turn back now back to pitching and defense and speed. The numbers are down. The guy in Toronto with the home runs, that was weird wasn't it? Baseball is kind of getting grounded again.What was your reaction to Ryan Howard's deal?
I think he's right on schedule. I think they have something about them. They know how to do things right. They've been doing things right for a long time. Ruben has done a heck of a job. Obviously Pat Gillick sort of laid the ground work for everything and now Ruben has stepped in. He didn't win the executive of the year and I don't know how Ruben Amaro didn't win that, but he sure is one of the top dogs out there right now. He is pulling a lot of the right strings.
I don't know where Jayson Werth would have gone, but he probably could have allowed the Phillies to take him up the ladder the way Ryan Howard did and eventually Chase Utley. They do it right here.