Calling audibles

Pat GillickBusy, busy, busy, busy day today for 50 percent of (which is moi). There are tons of stories to follow, tons of things to write and tons of ideas floating around in the ol’ coconut atop my shoulders. Unfortunately there will never be time enough to write them all down until all of this is over.

Perhaps then…

In the meantime, general manager Pat Gillick spent a revealing hour with the writers this afternoon, waxing on about the season, the bullpen and the team’s crazy drive for the NL East… amongst other topics.

In a season in which the Phillies were besieged by injuries to key players, the Gillick says he and Lieutenants Ruben Amaro and Mike Arbuckle were scrambling to find players simply to fill out the space on the roster. Strangely enough, some of those players stepped up, as they say.

Big time.

“It’s kind of like walking to the line and calling an audible,” Gillick said. “We called a lot of audibles.”

A couple of those audibles ended up working out. For instance when veteran starting pitchers Jon Lieber and Freddy Garcia were lost for the season with injuries – a cost of at least 20-to-25 wins, Gillick says – rookie Kyle Kendrick and oft-released J.D. Durbin picked up the slack.

“We got 16 wins out of two guys we didn’t expect to be here,” Gillick said. “Kyle was 4-7 at Double-A, but he was good. [However] we didn’t know he was ready to do this.”

Kendrick, of course, is slated to start Game 2 of the NLDS on Thursday afternoon against the Rockies. I know it’s a theme that I keep harping on, but I think it’s very significant that Kendrick won 10 games and was the team’s best pitcher for a stretch, despite pitching in just 12 games above Single-A.

Never mind the fact that Kendrick, apparently, was not even worthy of an invitation to spring training.

“We were in a desperate situation and we had some opportunities for some guys and they stepped up,” Gillick said.

Gillick also contributed a bit of unintentional levity during the Q&A session. When asked if cobbling together a team on the fly for the run at the division title was fun, Gillick gave a terse, stone-faced reply.

“No,” he said. “It’s not fun at all.”

Well… maybe it’s not fun for him, but the rest of us had a blast. From the looks of it, things are just beginning, too.

How far can they go?
An e-mailer sent me the odds (via regarding the Phillies’ chances in the playoffs as seen by the gambling types and it’s worth nothing that the local nine is given a 7-to-1 chance to win the World Series.

It’s also worth noting that amongst all eight teams in the playoffs, that figure is sixth best… bit it’s second-best (behind the Cubs) in the National League. Of the four teams in the NL side of the bracket, the Phillies are a 5-to-2 bet to win the pennant.

Before walking out of the press box tonight, I took a quick poll of the straggling scribes putting the finishing touches on stories that are sure to make Heywood Hale Broun jealous… if he were alive.

Here’s what I was told:

Howard Bryant – ESPN: Phillies vs. Yankees in World Series
Jim Salisbury – Philadelphia Inquirer: Phillies in 5
Dennis Deitch – Delaware County Daily Times: The winner of the Phillies-Rockies series will go to the World Series
Scott Lauber – Wilmington News Journal: Phillies in 5; Phillies vs. Yankees in World Series.
John Finger – Comcast SportsNet: Phillies in 4; Diamondbacks vs. Yankees in the World Series…

Hey, I’m going out on a limb. I like to go against the grain even though it might not be what I believe.

More from the ballpark tomorrow morning… we’re going to go live during the game, again.

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