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Friday, August 4, 2006

Gillick Did What Needed to be Done

Now that Pat Gillick has gutted the core of the Phillies team that Ed Wade built, the franchise can finally move forward one way or the other. Gillick finally made it clear that the Phillies are starting over. Now, it’s time to see if all the talk from the media about ownership, the clubhouse, etc., is true.

As I’ve said before on this blog, I just got back into being a Phillies fan a few years ago. I was a die-hard as a kid, quasi fan in the 1990s, and really got back into watching 100+ games last year after a slow ramp up — not that anyone cares. My point is only that I think I can truly question many of the commonly held beliefs about this team without being a whiney, self-proclaimed long suffering fan.

Gillick’s moves right before the trading deadline will likely prove or disprove:

· Bobby Abreu stinks: A classic Philadelphia fan claim — this guy stinks . . . based mostly on the fact that he didn’t connect with the fans. The numbers say he was one of the best in team history; he’s in the top 10 in numerous categories. His biggest hater, Howard Eskin, claims these numbers are hollow.

I saw Abreu strikeout in clutch situations, and pull up at the wall in the outfield. Yet, every home-run wasn’t hit when the Phils were down 8 runs. Plus, the New York Yankees wanted this guy. They’ve won how many World Series?

· The Phillies are cheap: Gillick cut an unbelievable amount of payroll. They’re entrenched in their new ballpark. Free agents better be rolling in here this season.

· The clubhouse was a problem: Most of the so-called bad guys are gone with Mike Lieberthal clearly on his way out. If this perception lasts, maybe “perception” is all it is.

· Charlie Manuel’s an idiot: I never get how people can say the players suck, and still rip the manager. Those players are gone, so the theory will be if the team still stinks it’s on the manger. But if this group of players gives us something to root for, it may be time to get off the old guy’s back.

· Ed Wade was a terrible GM: Gillick seems to have proven this one. But if “the Phillies are cheap” holds up, Wade will always have an out.

Of course, finding any real consensus on these issues will be tough. Some of the same people who bashed Abreu are actually ripping Gillick for “giving him away.” I also saw a fan on Comcast saying Abreu never connected with fans the way Aaron Rowand does. I like Rowand, but that’s just asinine.

Philadelphia has to stop falling in love with the hustling over-achiever at the expense of guys with actual talent. Rowand’s a nice player, but let’s get real. If he didn’t make one great catch running into a wall breaking his nose he’d be just another player. Now, he’s a hero.

For the record, I think Gillick did what needed to be done. It already appears to be the best example of addition by subtraction as the Phils swept the Central Division leading St. Louis Cardinals. If they come off their current road trip still in the hunt for the Wild Card, this fall could be a lot more fun than most expected.

Week in Review:
· Reggie White enters the Hall of Fame this weekend. Am I the only guy that winces at how prominently his religious fervor is discussed surrounding this honor?
· Chase Utley’s first “hit” on Wednesday was not a hit.
· Charles Barkley appeared on Daily News Live this week; here’s my vote for him to take John Chaney’s formerly annual Christmas Eve spot on the show.
· Only the Eagles would greet Broderick Bunkley, their first-round draft pick who ended an almost two-week holdout today, with their head coach announcing how the last seven guys at his position who held out essentially didn’t recover from the missed time.
· Only the NFL could pull off putting the first game of five weeks of meaningless football on prime time. That said, thank God football’s back this weekend.

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