Family history repeating itself?

drabeks

Selected in the 11th round of the 1983 draft, Doug Drabek was the property of four different organizations before his son Kyle was born in 1987. In fact, Doug’s rights were held by the Twins, White Sox and Yankees before he made his Major League debut.

So it’s kind of interesting that the son of the 1990 NL Cy Young Award winner and first-round draft pick of the Phillies in 2006 is in such an interesting spot. Kyle’s dad was once the proverbial player-to-be-named-later. No one ever coveted Doug Drabek as a minor leaguer until he actually got to the big leagues and proved he could pitch.

And pitch he did.

From 1988 to 1993, Doug tossed at least 219 innings and averaged 245 innings per season, counting the playoffs. He also never missed a start during that six-year span, won 71 games and finished in the top 5 in the Cy Young balloting three times.

The older Drabek was The Horse of the rotation that Charlie Manuel always talks about. He was the type of pitcher that gave the manager, pitching coach and bullpen a break every five days.

Now here’s where it gets interesting – when Doug Drabek was his son’s age (21), he was dealt from the White Sox to the Yankees organization and got a promotion from Single-A to Double-A. The following year (1985), Drabek spent the entire year in Double-A before starting ’86 in Triple-A for a handful of games.

At age 24, Doug Drabek was in the big leagues for good. For six years of his 12-season career he was one of the best pitchers in the National League, though hardly a Hall of Famer. After he signed a big free-agent deal with the Astros, Drabek won just 42 more games in the big leagues and by 1998, the career was over.

He was just 35.

For the sake of argument, let’s say Roy Halladay pitches until he is 35. That means he has three more years to go, which, if history (the Phillies, family and natural development) is an indicator, three years should be the time when Kyle Drabek is in the big leagues for good.

That is if he stays healthy long enough to make it to the big leagues.

Comparisons between father and son are inevitable. Why not … it’s easy. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, they say, and besides, Doug Drabek was a really good pitcher until the end. However, it seems as if the only thing the Drabeks have in common when it comes to pitching is that they both are right-handed and have the same last name.

Otherwise, Doug Drabek was crafty. He struck out a bit more than five hitters (5.7) per nine innings in the Majors and had roughly the same ratio (5.4) in the minors. Doug was efficient as a pitcher. He threw a sinker and made the most of his pitches. Even when he was racking up more 250 innings per season, Doug never averaged more than 109 pitches per game.

This season Kyle Drabek has 118 strikeouts in 122 innings. He’s has a big fastball which he used to rack up 74 whiffs in 61 2/3 inning in his first crack at advanced Single-A for Clearwater. More importantly, the injury issues seem to be behind the 21-year-old and he made the transition to Double-A rather seamlessly.

In other words, the kid knows how to pitch. So much so that Manuel didn’t compare him to his dad, but to another hard-throwing right-hander…

seaverTry Tom Seaver.

“It’d be tough for me to trade Drabek,” Manuel said. “I like Drabek because he’s strong in his legs and his hips and he’s a drop-and-drive kind of pitcher. I’m not a pitching coach but I like his mechanics and I like where he comes from and he’s a strong-bodied kid, like a Tom Seaver type or a Bartolo Colon, and he’s got that kind of stuff. And he’s young, and I think he has a big upside to him.”

But Roy Halladay… name three pitchers in the big leagues that are better than him. If Manuel wants The Horse, there he is. In fact, Halladay could get traded to the National League tomorrow and still likely get votes for the AL Cy Young Award. If Halladay were to join the Phillies and spend the remainder of his contract in Philly, a three-peat is not an unreasonable thought.

So here it is – what should the Phillies do?

• Bank on a can’t-miss kid with the pedigree and big right arm.
• Go for the short-term glory because titles come twice in 126 years in these parts.

Certainly they are tough questions and one that might keep general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. awake at night. But is there a wrong answer? Is this a damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t situation?

Anyone have a crystal ball?

Glorious Bastardo

bastardoWe love big-league debuts. Better yet, we really love comparing the debuts of Phillies pitchers over the recent past. So with Antonio Francisco Bastardo (how fun is it to say that name?) set to make his big-league debut tonight in San Diego against Jake Peavy, what better excuse to dig up the digits from some of the more notable opening nights for some Phillies starting pitchers.

More interestingly, it’s kind of ironic that Bastardo, the 23-year-old lefty, is facing Peavy in his debut – what with all the trade talk and all. Who knows, maybe the pitchers of tonight’s game will be traded for one another.

Crazier things have happened, right?

Nevertheless, here are a few of the more notable debuts of Phillies draft picks:

Kyle Kendrick vs. White Sox on June 13, 2007: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K for a ND

Scott Mathieson vs. Devil Rays on June 17, 2006: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 K for Loss

Cole Hamels vs. Reds on May 12, 2006: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 7 K for ND

Gavin Floyd vs. Mets on Sept. 3, 2004: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 5 K for Win

Brett Myers at Cubs on July 24, 2002: 8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K for Win

Brandon Duckworth vs. Padres on Aug., 7, 2001: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 4 K for Win

David Coggin at Expos on June 23, 2000: 6 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 4 K for Win

Randy Wolf vs. Blue Jays on June 11, 1999: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 6 K for Win

Carlton Loewer vs. Cubs on June 14, 1998: 9 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 K for Win

Still counting down to the deadline

WASHINGTON – Let me start with a message to all of the residents of the District of Columbia:

I support your fight for proper representation on Capitol Hill. I’m right there with you, Washington, D.C.

There, I’m glad I got that off my chest.

Anyway, it’s still hot and steamy down here (again, it’s a swamp) and there is plenty of hustle and bustle. In fact, there’s so much going on that the last Phillies’ bus from the hotel did not arrive at the ballpark until 4:50 p.m.

Anyone want to guess who was on it?

Meanwhile, a few of the Phillies are hoping that they aren’t on a bus to the airport to send them to a new team in another city. It’s very interesting – there isn’t a single guy on the Phillies (at least the guys I talked to) that wants to be traded. A few have even joked about hiding in their lockers or making a break for the backdoor when Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline creeps closer.

The guys on the Phillies really like playing here.

And based on the rumors and all the talk around the ballclub, it seems as if all of them will continue to play for the Phillies beyond the trading deadline. The latest hot talk involves Braves’ lefty Will Ohman, but the exchange pieces include minor leaguers…

Well, not all of them are minor leaguers now.

So the song and dance continues here in The District, though it’s pretty clear the Phillies will not pull off a deal like the one the Yankees and Tigers figured out on Wednesday afternoon. In that one, the Yanks got the catcher they needed in Pudge Rodriguez and the Tigers got to take Kyle Farnsworth off the Yankees’ hands.

Nope, Manny Ramirez is not coming to Philadelphia.

Besides, if given his druthers, manager Charlie Manuel says he wants a big-time starter.

“And I mean a really big-time starter,” Charlie said before Wednesday’s game.

Charlie noted that the Phillies aren’t too different than other teams in that regard — everybody wants a big-time starter. Short of that, however, Charlie says he’ll take “a good bullpen piece.”

“The stronger we make our bullpen the less often we have to depend on our starters to go deep into a game,” he said.

Hey, why not get both? A starter and a bullpen piece… while they’re at it, how about a power-hitting third baseman, too?

OK… we’ll have more on the developments here in the 51st state as it warrants. Stay close to your computers, folks.

Little pebbles make a big splash

Carlos ZambranoOf the piles of theories I have about things, only a handful are as solid as a bronze statue. One of those theories is that everyone has eaten a loogie at one point or another. Hey, I don’t mean to be gross, but let’s face facts – there are a lot of disgruntled people out there and most of them work in restaurants.

Another good theory is that sometimes it’s the smallest and seemingly insignificant bit of news that triggers much larger events. For instance, it took the 1914 assassination of an otherwise obscure Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria to light the powder keg that exploded into World War I.

Who would have guessed that Ferdinand would have ever become the presumptive heir to Austro-Hungarian throne, let alone his death spur the calamity that followed?

Along those lines it’s interesting to note that the reports out of Chicago are that ace pitcher Carlos Zambrano is headed for the 15-day disabled list. Certainly that’s big news for the Cubs since they currently have the best record in the National League and could be on the way to the World Series for the first time since 1936. Obviously it’s big news because the Cubs need Zambrano if they want to have any chance at all in the post-season.

Regardless, Zambrano should be able to help the Cubs relatively soon. That’s important because even though Zambrano has bum shoulder, an MRI revealed that the big right-hander has no structural damage. Unless something unforeseen occurs, Zamrano will be back pitching for the Cubs in no time.

Here’s why the MRI results, a two sentence bit of info in the fourth graf of the wire story, could be the powder keg of the National League pennant race:

Because if the Cubs have Carlos Zambrano, they probably won’t need to go out and make a big-time trade to land C.C. Sabathia or another pitcher of that ilk. Oh sure, they can still do it and it may even be cost effective noting that the Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908. But they don’t have to.

It also means the Phillies might have a better shot at making a trade for a pitcher like Sabathia (or one of that ilk) if they can cobble together a package big enough to entice the Indians. That’s the really important part as it concerns us.

Nevertheless, despite reports that the Phillies have dispatched scouts to take a gander or two at pitchers like A.J. Burnett of the Blue Jays, Bronson Arroyo of the Reds, Greg Maddux of the Padres as well as Sabathia, general manager Pat Gillick told the gang on the Daily News Live! panel that it’s much too early to contemplate such a move. For one thing, most teams are still in the playoff chase even with the non-waiver trading deadline still a little more than a month away.

That means the annual summertime dance where teams get into position to get in position is just beginning.

Can’t you hear the music?

Still, it’s interesting to note that Gillick says he would not rule out the possibility of trading away one of the players on the current 25-man roster in order to get the piece the team needs.

Would that be interesting?

In the meantime, let’s keep an eye on Archduke Zambrano. The state of his shoulder could decide a lot.

Measuring up

CharlieDuring the past month it’s been very difficult not to get excited about the Phillies. They have scored runs with impunity, won games at nearly a 1993 rate all while the bullpen corps established itself as one of the better groups in the game. When it comes to rallying for a lead in the middle to late innings before the relievers come in and nail it down, the Phillies are as good as any team in baseball.

In the process, the Phillies have established themselves as the best team in the NL East and baring a collapse of New York Mets-like proportions, the Philllies should return to the playoffs in 2008.

But that’s where it gets complicated.

Yes, the Phillies are a playoff-caliber team. And, yes, the ’08 Phillies are better than the version that slipped into the playoffs during the 2007 season. Those two points are given. But what complicates things is that the Phillies are now forced with a pretty difficult decision that must come to a conclusion by the end of next month.

What are they in this for?

Do the Phillies simply want to improve on last season’s short ride through the playoffs, or are they going for the rings, trophies and champagne?

Sure, it sounds like an easy question to answer. Every player on every team – even the ones who secretly know they have no shot – say they won’t be satisfied unless they win the World Series. That’s the whole point of playing, they say. But the facts are much more austere. Some teams just aren’t built for the long haul of a 162-game season. Others are built to win a division or a wild-card berth, but flame out in the playoffs.

But only a couple of teams every season are built to go all the way. With some clubs the brass gets together to compile the components that will carry the team during late October. Sometimes those teams even go on autopilot for the first few months of the regular season.

The Phillies saw firsthand what those really good teams look like when the Boston Red Sox came to town for three games this week. The players and the management got to see how the Red Sox set up the Phillies’ pitchers, patiently waiting for a pitch to bash for extra-base hits or base-clogging walk. The Red Sox made the Phillies hurlers work and then they exposed all their little, tiny weaknesses.

If that wasn’t enough, the Sox pitchers worked over the heart of the Phillies’ batting order and held Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell to a combined 1-for-24 (.042) during the final two games of the series and 6-for-36 (.167) during the entire three-game series.

No, the Red Sox didn’t come right out and embarrass the Phillies. After all, Cole Hamels pitched splendidly in the Phillies’ 8-2 victory last Monday where Howard, Burrell, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino spurred the offense. Instead, the Red Sox treated the Phillies as if they were a tiny winged insect there for amusement and all they had to do when they got finished plucking the wings off one-by-one was stomp on them.

“Obviously they’ve been successful a long time and there’s a reason why. They have some good players over there,” Utley said. “I thought we played well the first game. We faced a tough pitcher the second game and today we had some opportunities we didn’t capitalize on.”

This was the Red Sox with Jon Lester and Justin Masterson and not Josh Beckett or Dice-K. It was the Sox with Sean Casey and J.D. Drew leading the way and not sluggers David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez or Kevin Youkilis.

It wasn’t exactly the B-team… that was the Phillies. Better yet, it was a Phillies club that came away from the series with a handful of lessons.

“The first night, we went out and won and everybody’s talking about the Phillies finally proving they can do it. Then, we lose the next two,” Victorino said. “It’s not a learning process. It’s just a matter of seeing what they have.

“I think we match up with them. I know we can.”

Thinking it and doing it are two different things. As a result it has become quite clear that if the Phillies are interested in playing the Red Sox again this season, they need to make an addition or two. That’s because the only sure thing the Phillies have in the starting rotation is Hamels. After that, it’s pray the bats are hot.

Fortunately for the Phillies and their fans, management was hip to the team’s weaknesses all along. In fact, reports have surfaced which indicate the team has dispatched scouts specifically to watch the Indians’ C.C. Sabathia and the Padres’ Greg Maddux pitch. Both players could be available for a trade before the July 31 deadline, though the price won’t be cheap.

Meanwhile, the proverbial gauntlet has been thrown down for Opening Day starter Brett Myers, who thus far has limped to a 3-8 record with a 5.58 ERA. Both manager Charlie Manuel and assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. have stated that the big right-hander has to improve quickly…

Or what?

Fortunes turn fast in baseball. Suddenly the Phillies have lost three straight series and six out of their last nine immediately on the heels of a stretch in which they won 12 of 14 games. Plus, the first-place Los Angeles Angels head to town this weekend. Like the Red Sox, the Angels are another tam built for games to be played when the leaves have dropped from the trees and the air takes on a chilly bite.

Have we seen the real Phillies or are they still on the way?

“I’m concerned, I’m not worried,” Manuel said. “We got three more games on this homestand. I’d like to see the Angels come in here and finish this homestand real well. I’d to see us get some things going.”

Mixing it up

Wes HelmsAs the more regular visitors to this site will see, we’re messing around with the look a little bit. Actually, the early reviews indicate that the new layout is a rip-off of the old site… maybe. Instead of calling it a “rip-off” I’ll call it a “throwback.” You know, kind of like the Phillies new uniforms that look just like their old ones from the late 1940s.

Everything old is new again, right?

Anyway, as other folks may have heard, a sucker is born every minute. In that regard, the Florida Marlins agreed to send a player to be named later to the Phillies for the recently designated Wes Helms.

I’m not certain, but Helms’ arrival to the Marlins might push the team’s payroll slightly greater than Alex Rodriguez’s annual salary.

Nonetheless, the Phillies can finally close the book on The Wes Helms Era. Unlike other eras in Phillies’ history, Helms’ one season with the team resulted in a playoff appearance.

Take that, Mike Lieberthal.

Play me and trade me

As this week’s baseball trading deadline passed with all the subtlety of a hammer pounding a nail, it quite fascinating to think of the notion of the trade. Actually, it’s quite baffling to think of it. No, not the trade that sent the Phillies best hitter and hottest pitcher to the New York Yankees for four minor leaguers with very limited potential. That’s a different story that will be discussed for years. For this it’s the actual concept of the trade that’s weird.

Think of it – an employee for a company is just shipped off without warning to another totally different company. Sure, they’re in the same business, but it doesn’t really seem fair.

Does it?

For instance, I doubt that there is any chance that someone in your company’s accounting department is going to come into the office tomorrow morning with a yellow post-it stuck to the computer with the message, “Come see me” from the boss scrawled on it. And it’s doubtful that the scene that happens quite often in pro sports will be played out when the Accounting guy shows up at the door of the boss’s office.

“You wanted to see me, boss?”

“Yeah, Bob, come on in and sit down. Close the door behind you, too, please.”

“Sure thing… what is it, boss?”

“Well, this isn’t going to be easy because, as you know, we really like your work around here, and your jokes were knocking everyone out at the company’s summer luau last month. We just really like having you around, and that’s not because you are having a great season with the company softball team, either. It’s more than that… ”

“So what is it, boss?”

“Well, as you know we’re a little short staffed in the marketing department. We just really need some extra help down there with all the vacations coming up and the fiscal year ending. Anyway, I don’t want to drag this out so I have to put it straight – we’ve traded you to a medical supply company in Duluth. Now I know what you’re thinking and I want you to know that we didn’t want to do this. But they really needed a top-notch accountant and they’re a really good company. I think you’ll fit in well there and really help them out.”

Yes, people in certain industries get transferred from place to place all the time. It’s also more than common for military professionals to bounce around the globe from base to base, packing and re-packing the family for the next home, school so they can make a new set of friends only to re-start the process all over again in a few years.

Actually, I have a close friend who requested his “trade” within his company. He did it not once, but several times, going from Boston to Washington, D.C., to Toronto and then back to Boston where he eventually left as a free agent to go to another firm. During all of this my friend said the most important thing he learned was to make sure he emptied the trash can before the movers came to pack everything up and ship it to another city.

“If you have trash in Boston, it’s going to show up in the same trash can in Washington,” he said.

The funniest thing about trades in pro sports is how non-chalant the athletes are about being told they were being sent somewhere else to work. Oh sure, they act surprised and talk about the friends they made and the good times with their former employer, but there is always one phrase every pro jock uses when discussing their trade to a new team. In fact, every former Phillie used it on the way out the door this past week:

“It’s part of the game. It’s part of the business… ” said David Bell on his way to Milwaukee last Friday.

“It’s part of the business… ” said Bobby Abreu as he headed to New York to join the Yankees.

“I wanted to stay here but it’s part of the business…” added Cory Lidle as he joined Abreu on the way to the Bronx.

“I enjoyed my time here. I wish it could’ve included a playoff run, but it’s part of the business… ” added Rheal Cormier as he left Philadelphia for Cincinnati.

Where’s Crash Davis when you need him? And there’s one aspect of the sporting life that most people are glad hasn’t gone mainstream.

Play me and trade me

As this week’s baseball trading deadline passed with all the subtlety of a hammer pounding a nail, it quite fascinating to think of the notion of the trade. Actually, it’s quite baffling to think of it. No, not the trade that sent the Phillies best hitter and hottest pitcher to the New York Yankees for four minor leaguers with very limited potential. That’s a different story that will be discussed for years. For this it’s the actual concept of the trade that’s weird.

Think of it – an employee for a company is just shipped off without warning to another totally different company. Sure, they’re in the same business, but it doesn’t really seem fair.

Does it?

For instance, I doubt that there is any chance that someone in your company’s accounting department is going to come into the office tomorrow morning with a yellow post-it stuck to the computer with the message, “Come see me” from the boss scrawled on it. And it’s doubtful that the scene that happens quite often in pro sports will be played out when the Accounting guy shows up at the door of the boss’s office.

“You wanted to see me, boss?”

“Yeah, Bob, come on in and sit down. Close the door behind you, too, please.”

“Sure thing… what is it, boss?”

“Well, this isn’t going to be easy because, as you know, we really like your work around here, and your jokes were knocking everyone out at the company’s summer luau last month. We just really like having you around, and that’s not because you are having a great season with the company softball team, either. It’s more than that… ”

“So what is it, boss?”

“Well, as you know we’re a little short staffed in the marketing department. We just really need some extra help down there with all the vacations coming up and the fiscal year ending. Anyway, I don’t want to drag this out so I have to put it straight – we’ve traded you to a medical supply company in Duluth. Now I know what you’re thinking and I want you to know that we didn’t want to do this. But they really needed a top-notch accountant and they’re a really good company. I think you’ll fit in well there and really help them out.”

Yes, people in certain industries get transferred from place to place all the time. It’s also more than common for military professionals to bounce around the globe from base to base, packing and re-packing the family for the next home, school so they can make a new set of friends only to re-start the process all over again in a few years.

Actually, I have a close friend who requested his “trade” within his company. He did it not once, but several times, going from Boston to Washington, D.C., to Toronto and then back to Boston where he eventually left as a free agent to go to another firm. During all of this my friend said the most important thing he learned was to make sure he emptied the trash can before the movers came to pack everything up and ship it to another city.

“If you have trash in Boston, it’s going to show up in the same trash can in Washington,” he said.

The funniest thing about trades in pro sports is how non-chalant the athletes are about being told they were being sent somewhere else to work. Oh sure, they act surprised and talk about the friends they made and the good times with their former employer, but there is always one phrase every pro jock uses when discussing their trade to a new team. In fact, every former Phillie used it on the way out the door this past week:

“It’s part of the game. It’s part of the business… ” said David Bell on his way to Milwaukee last Friday.

“It’s part of the business… ” said Bobby Abreu as he headed to New York to join the Yankees.

“I wanted to stay here but it’s part of the business…” added Cory Lidle as he joined Abreu on the way to the Bronx.

“I enjoyed my time here. I wish it could’ve included a playoff run, but it’s part of the business… ” added Rheal Cormier as he left Philadelphia for Cincinnati.

Where’s Crash Davis when you need him? And there’s one aspect of the sporting life that most people are glad hasn’t gone mainstream.

Deadline day

Obviously, Sunday was a really busy day with the trade of Bobby Abreu and the speculation that there will be one, maybe two more today. That means the thoughts on steroids and doping will have to wait until later this week. There’s just too much going on in regard to dismantling the Phillies.

Anyway, it’s a shame that Abreu’s end came the way it did because the stats show that he would have re-written the franchise’s record books. It’s also a shame that a certain segment of the fan base just didn’t get it or understand modern baseball.

Oh well. Abreu is gone now and the Phillies are a far worse team. Sure, the Phillies save a lot of money, but it’s not as if they are going to use it to land a big-time free agent. It’s more like they can use some of that money to help pay another team to take on someone like Pat Burrell.

It’s also a shame that money is more important than talent.

In that regard, expect more deals today. Rheal Cormier is likely on the way out, though as a 5-and-10 man he can veto any deal. There are also renewed rumblings that Jon Lieber might not make today’s scheduled start even though general manager Pat Gillick said there was nothing going on in regard to the pitcher as of 5 p.m. yesterday.

But something changed between 5 p.m. and the end of yesterday’s second game. Tuesday’s probable pitcher Scott Mathieson was in the clubhouse just hanging out when he was asked about his next outing when he let it slip that he was told to “be ready to go tomorrow… ”

In other words, Mathieson was pulled out of Sunday’s start at Triple-A to be in Philadelphia to stand at alert.

As an aside, the Phillies clubhouse has a decidedly different look about it now. It’s hard not to look around at the spots once occupied by Jim Thome, Billy Wagner, David Bell and Bobby Abreu and wonder, “who are these guys.” It will be much more different next season when Mike Lieberthal, Randy Wolf and maybe Pat Burrell are gone.

As far as Wolf goes, it was really cool to see him back on the field after 13 tough months of rehab. Just getting back out there is achievement enough and the lefty deserves all the kudos he gets. With guys like Wolfie, Thome, Rolen and Doug Glanville, it’s hard to be objective.

Now here’s a theory: expect another year with Charlie Manuel… more later

Trade winds blowing?

Here’s the Phillies’ lineup for Saturday night:

Victorino – rf
Rowand – cf
Utley – 2b
Burrell – lf
Howard – 1b
Coste – c
Nunez – 3b
Sandoval – ss
Hamels – p

Yeah, the Phillies are facing left-hander Dontrelle Willis, but is that the real reason Bobby Abreu isn’t in the lineup? I guess we’ll find out sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, the trade of David Bell to the Brewers sounded a clarion bell that there are more moves coming. Clearly a salary dump — the Phillies save $1.8 million on the remainder of Bell’s salary this year — it’s safe to assume that the Phillies are pulling the plug on the remainder of 2006 kind of like they did in 2002 when Scott Rolen was sent to St. Louis. Sure, there was more involved there, but the feeling around the ballpark is that something is happening.

Then again, you never know.

Since you’ve been gone

I spent most of today playing catch up with what has been happening with the Phillies as well as on the East Coast and this is what I learned:

  • Humidity is an awful, awful thing. Yes, we were lucky enough to miss the horrible heat that tour through the area last week, but going from highs of 17 percent humidity — with temperatures never going higher than 85 –to this is very difficult. It just makes everything feel so heavy and malodorous.Moreover, when people say it is much more difficult training for a marathon in humidity than at altitude, they are correct. Sure, today’s 14-miler was performed nearly 2-minutes per mile faster than what I was able to do in Colorado where we were between 7,500 to 8,200 feet, but I felt like I was walking in a furnace here. Worse, now I’m paying for it with a case of heat cramps.

    Fun.

  • You know how they say people on the East are in more of a hurry, aren’t as friendly, and suffer fools less? It’s true. Next to the humidity, the biggest difference I notice when I return to our coast is the vibe emanating from the people like the heat off the macadam. Sadly to say, I kind of enjoy the rush and rudeness.
  • No one is sure whether or not the Phillies are “buyers” or “sellers,” using the popular parlance of the times. Needless to say, the results from this weekend’s four-game series against the Braves should clear that up nicely for GM Pat Gillick and his minions.Along those lines, whether the Phils are adding or subtracting, Bobby Abreu and/or Pat Burrell appear likely to finish the season with another team. That’s more so the case with Abreu than Burrell based on what the ballscribes are writing these days.

    Like rumors and innuendo? Here’s some fun stuff from ESPN’s Rumor Central:

    Shea Hillenbrand
    ESPN.com and Scouts Inc.’s Keith Law reports that the Angels have no interest in acquiring Hillenbrand, who was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on Wednesday.

    ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney reports the Giants, however, are interested in Hillenbrand. The Toronto Sun, meanwhile, reports several other teams are in the mix to get Hillenbrand. Included in the list are the Brewers, Twins, Phillies, Dodgers and Padres.

    “We’re confident that we will be able to move him,” Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said in a report in the Sun. “We’ll play it all out and try to get the best deal we can.”

    Bobby Abreu
    While the Mets are interested in acquiring Bobby Abreu, the New York Post reports outfield prospect Lastings Milledge will not be moved as part of any trade for the Phillies’ right fielder.

    The paper reports that people close to Mets GM Omar Minaya say the only player Milledge would be traded for right now is Marlins left-hander Dontrelle Willis, but he isn’t currently available.

    The Detroit News reports that the Tigers are no longer looking to acquire Abreu, and instead are keying in on making a trade for Alfonso Soriano.

    Any teams interested in Abreu, meanwhile, must be prepared to pay a hefty price, reports ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. Not only is Abreu owed $15 million in 2007, but he also has a complete no-trade clause. So any new team would likely need to pay for 2007, pay his $16M salary for 2008 and give him a contract extension in order for Abreu to waive his no-trade clause.

    ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reports that the Phillies are also looking for an impact player and another player in exchange for Abreu.

    Rodrigo Lopez
    The Orioles have discussed trading Lopez to the Phillies for one of their outfielders, either Bobby Abreu or Pat Burrell, according to the Baltimore Sun.

    Sources told the Sun that the Phillies would be willing to take Lopez and a mid-level prospect if the O’s would pay a large portion of the contract for Burrell or Abreu. One official, though, called the deal “unlikely.”

    Meanwhile, the Orioles are talking to other teams about Lopez, including Arizona, St. Louis, San Diego, Texas and the Yankees.

    Buster Olney wrote that the future of the Phillies is contingent upon how Gillick’s decisions of the next 10 days. Olney wrote:

    Does Gillick, along with other Phillies executives, believe Abreu is worth one-sixth of the team’s payroll?

    Maybe they’ll determine that Abreu, with his gaudy on-base percentage and his speed, is worth the cash. Or maybe they’ll determine they’ll be better off making sure they dump his contract now and ensure they can spend money currently allocated for Abreu on other players.

    Whatever happens, the next 10 days should be pretty interesting.

  • More on the trade

    For my money – what there is of it – Buster Olney is the best baseball writer in the world right now. Oh sure, there might be other guys who are more analytical in regard to the Baseball Prospectus-type of writing that all of the kids are talking about, but numbers and statistics always left me cold. Baseball is about stories, and Olney is really quite interesting.

    Yes, I lean toward the “Moneyball” theory in putting together a team, but at the same time I take more stock out of what an old scout or storyteller can teach me about the game than anything some guy with an MBA can show me on an Excel spreadsheet.

    Besides, last summer former Inquirer writer Jayson Stark told me how hard Olney worked on his daily dispatches for ESPN after I had revealed to Stark how much I enjoyed his colleague’s work.

    Gushing and name dropping aside, Olney had an interesting perspective on the Phillies’ deal for David Dellucci.

    Here’s an interesting excerpt from Buster’s ESPN blog:

    Phillies GM Pat Gillick knows Dellucci from his days as GM of the Orioles, and I don’t think he’d be picking him up knowing that David would only be pinch-hitter type. There’s more mad scientist in Gillick than any general manager I’ve covered; he always thinking two or three moves ahead, and he won’t always tell you what he’s doing. You have to think, on the face of it, that the acquisition of Dellucci is merely the first domino to fall.

    Olney wonders if Pat Burrell is more hurt than anyone is letting on, or if there will be future deal involving Bobby Abreu. Nevertheless, it’s pretty fair to say that Gillick has been bold in putting together this year’s team… well, maybe he’s not bold per se, maybe we’re just not used to such proactive behavior.

    It’s 4:51 a.m., do you know where your new fifth outfielder is?

    Phillies’ GM Pat Gillick pulled off a late-night trade for the left-handed hitting, fifth-outfielder he coveted in the early hours of Sunday morning. For promising right-handed pitcher Rob Tejeda, and minor-leaguer Jake Blalock the Phils picked up David Dellucci from the Texas Rangers.

    In other words, Gillick dealt Vicente Padilla, Blalock and Tejeda to Texas for Dellucci.

    Dellucci is a 32-year-old, .259 hitter who spent the past two years with the Rangers, and has also spent time with the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Orioles. Last Season Dellucci had a career-high 29 homers and 128 games.

    In 2001, Dellucci was a pinch-hitter for the World Champion Diamondbacks.

    According to the UPI, the Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels, said:

    “It was hard trading David. He’s been with us for two years. He has a strong relationship with the players and the community. He was pretty shocked.”

    According to the UPI, the teams had been working on the deal for nearly a week.

    With Dellucci in the fold, that means the Chris Coste/Tomas Perez era in Philadelphia has ended… at least for now.