Philadelphia Inquirer - April 30, 1980
Starrette’s horror cinema
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
NEW YORK – It says in the program that Herm Starrette is supposed to be the Phillies' pitching coach. But lately he's been acting more like Pauline Kael.
Starrette has watched ' so many films in the last couple of months, it's rumored he doesn't even phone the bullpen anymore to tell pitchers to start throwing. He just shines a flashlight on them.
Another great thing about Starrette. He's not into that commercial fare like "Kramer vs. Kramer." He views only the overlooked classics – such as "Ruthven vs. Chicago" and "One Flew Over the Catcher's Mitt."
You won't find any of those attractions at TLA. But they've been featured a lot lately at the Vet, where the Phillies have amassed a huge film library of their pitchers – their good days and their bad. Starrette figures that if he watches enough good days, maybe he can figure out the difference between them and all the recent bad days.
"Hell, we've got all this film," Starrette said yesterday after the Phillies' game with the Mets had been rained out. "Ruly (Carpenter) spends a lot of money to get it. So the least I can do is watch it."
Good enough for first?
Despite what he sees, Starrette keeps insisting that the Phillies' staff is good enough to win the division.
"I'm still optimistic," Starrette said. "The main reason is, I know it's got to get better than what it is.
"I don't want the pitchers to think I'm giving excuses for them. But I look at the box scores, and other pitching staffs are the same way. Everybody's giving up a lot of runs and a lot of hits."
Paul Owens says he isn't trying to trade for a pitcher at the moment. The best arms in the farm system, Jim Wright and Marty Bystrom, aren't ready. So the Phillies will have to go with the guys they've got.
The question is, will those guys get better or will Starrette have to leave at midyear to become film critic at the Village Voice?
Here's the way Starrette analyzes his main problems:
DICK RUTHVEN (1-2, 9.S6) – "I watched films of him on the off-day (Monday), over and over again. I watched the second start after he got over here from Atlanta (in 1978), a real good game against Chicago. And there was no difference in his delivery between now and then.
"The only thing is, his arm's coming through slower now. He's not popping the ball. The velocity isn't there like it was in 78. It's a matter of waiting for his arm to get strong again.
"There's no point throwing in the towel now. If he continues to throw the way he has been, I'm sure he won't stay in the rotation. But I don't foresee him coming out of the rotation right now."
LARRY CHRISTENSON (1-0, 6.55) "He's one of my concerns now. I felt like in spring training he had as good stuff as anybody I've ever seen. If I could just keep him healthy...."
NINO ESPINOSA (disabled list) . "The last two times in the bullpen he's thrown real good. Sunday he was close to throwing like he did last year. The thing is, it looks like that if he had the pain now he could still come back and pitch good with it. Before, when he had the pain, he couldn't throw the ball good.
Will pitch in practice
"He'll throw batting practice for us (tonight), then again Friday and Sunday. Then hopefully we can set up a simulated game for him, like we did with Christenson last year. But he's still a ways away."
RON REED (0-0, 4.00) - "The last time he pitched, the four innings against the Mets, he was more him self. But he's still a little bit away.
"It seemed like his problem was, he was striding toward first base. We watched film of him against Pittsburgh, a game where he went seven innings, gave up a couple of hits. And he was driving toward home plate. He watched that, and he felt that helped him. The difference between bad and good is not real big. People don t realize that. He is close to being good."
TUG McGRAW (0-1. 4.50) "I know Tug said some things (in a New York paper) mat we are not using him enough, that we're using (Dickie) Noles over him. But he's old enough to realize he shouldn't worrv about that. He has to realize that if Dickie Noles comes in and does the job we're going to use him.
"I want guvs to feel like if some body does a good job that it just takes tne pressure on them. I don t want Tug McGraw to feel like he's out in the cold. Because without Tug McGraw, we're going to be in trouble."
STOLEN BASES (17 off the pitch ers in the last nine games) "I've asked the pitchers to throw over to first more. Don’t just throw one time. Throw two or three times. Maybe you can intimidate the runners a little more.
"It seems like a lot of guys have gotten big jumps off breaking balls. Maybe they're just guessing. But you can’t guess right 18 out oi 22 times.
NOTES: Last night's game will be made up as part of a doubleheader when the Phillies come back in August (15-17)…. Dallas Green will push his pitching back a day Randy Lerch tonight, Steve Carlton tomorrow, Ruthven Friday and tentatively Christenson Saturday.