Camden Courier Post - October 26, 1980
Players’ ages may dictate changes in Phillies’ roster
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
Paul Owens will be tucked away at an exclusive country club on the East Coast of Florida this week with 25 other general managers.
Chances are, much of the groundwork for this year's Winter Meetings will be laid during the three-day seminar. And Owens, who has developed a reputation as a shrewd dealer in the baseball market, will no doubt be talking trade to some of his colleagues.
Owens has no intention of taking the Phillies apart. They did, afterall, accomplish something no Phillies team had ever done when they defeated the Kansas City Royals in the World Series,
But neither is Owens planning to stand pat, if only because the Phillies as a team are at a dangerous age. None of the regulars is under the age of 29 and some – like shortstop Larry Bowa – are at a crossroads in their careers.
Owens and Manager Dallas Green made it clear during spring training that they would break up the Phillies if the team didn't win. Well, it won everything there was to win. Yet, neither Owens nor Green has backed away from the idea that changes must be made.
"We're at an age bracket where we have to look at it (the future) objectively," said Green.
Trades are no longer accomplished in whirlwind fashion. In today's baseball world, where free agency and long-term contracts make trades complex ventures, it takes time, patience and a measure of luck to complete a deal.
So it is with the Phillies. If you listened to all the rumors during the regular season, everyone from catcher Bob Boone to centerfielder Garry Maddox was on his way elsewhere. That still could be.
But don't be surprised if the team that arrives in Clearwater for spring training next February is substantially the same one that beat the Royals in the Series.
"I'm pretty well satisfied we can do it again with the people we have and with help here and there," said Owens.
Before Owens makes any moves, he'll have to wait until after November's free agent reentry draft Pitchers Tug McGraw and Larry Christenson are eligible for the draft and it is likely the two will test their value on the open market.
“I’ve got to talk to Tug and Larry Christenson within the next few days," said Owens. "There's not much you can do until you know if you're going to lose them.
"I'll make them an offer, then they'll decide."
The players leading the Most Likely to be Traded List are leftfielder Greg Luzinski and pitchers Randy Lerch and Ron Reed.
Luzinski is coming off perhaps the most frustrating season of his career. After dipping to .252, 18 home runs and 81 RBIs in 1979, the Bull was poised to make a comeback in 1980.
He dropped a considerable amount of weight, began wearing glasses instead of contact lenses and came out of spring training smoking. But his season began going downhill in June and he never recovered.
Luzinski underwent knee surgery in July and missed five weeks. By the time he returned to the lineup in mid-August, Lonnie Smith had established himself as a major-league talent. The Bull struggled through much of September, played well during the playoffs against Houston, then disappeared during the Series.
He went 0-for-3 in the opener and did not play in the second game. Luzinski developed an intestinal virus and was kept out of the lineup in Games 3 and 4, a move that displeased him. The Bull went 0-for-2 in the fifth game and was 0-for-4 in the clincher last Tuesday.
Lerch was an extremely unhappy young man when the Phillies declared him ineligible for the playoffs, thus making room on the postseason roster for lefthanded reliever Kevin Saucier.
Perhaps there was some justification for Lerch feeling hurt and not remaining with the club through the playoffs and World Series. He is, afterall, a product of the Phillies system and had been with the club since 1977. But he never really fulfilled the promise he showed in the minors.
Lerch began the season as part of the rotation, but pitched his way out of it by going 4-14 in 22 starts. He finished the year with a 5.10 earned run average and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 57-55.
His background in the Phils' system could not erase his poor performance. The Phillies had promised Saucier that he would be part of the post-season when Saucier developed a convenient case of tendonitis to allow Luzinski to return to the roster in August.
Someone had to be sacrificed to make room for Saucier. Lerch was that someone.
"Three or four clubs have expressed interest in Randy and I'm going to listen," said Owens. "I don't know because, if we lose Larry Christenson, we'll need another starter. And, I still believe Randy has a major-league arm.
"But maybe a trade would be the best thing for all concerned."
Reed was another unhappy pitcher. The righthander had a season that was, at best, spotty. Reed had his moments, but so did a number of opposing batters.
Perhaps his low point came in the second game of a Sept. 12 double-header against the St. Louis Cardinals. Reed entered in the 11th inning with the game scoreless and promptly relinquished a double that touched off a five-run Cardinal rally. By the way, the pitcher who finished that inning was Lerch.
The next day, the Phillies pried Sparky Lyle loose from the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later. The most likely candidate to fill that description is young infielder Luis Aguayo.
"As far as I'm concerned," said Owens, "Ronnie will be with us for another year. In light of his age (Reed turns 38 on Nov. 2), I don't know how much we would get for him.
"I won't pedal him, but if I can fit him into a deal..."
Two other names that have been mentioned more than once in trade talk are Bowa and Maddox. Bowa, as a 10-and-5 man (10 years in the majors, five with the same club), can veto any trade. Maddox has a no-trade clause in his contract.
Bowa will be 35 next season and his age must certainly be considered a factor. If Aguayo goes to Texas, the Phils' shortstop of the future seems to be Julio Franco. But Franco is years away from developing into a big-league shortstop and Bowa is, afterall, one of the best in the business.
There is a rumor that the Phillies would like to get shortstop Ivan DeJesus out of Chicago. So would a lot of other clubs.
Maddox, for all the problems he had with Green this season, remains the finest defensive centerfielder in the game. That – and his no-trade – make the chances of him being traded seem remote.
Boone's name also surfaced. The Phillies have several prospects in their system – Don McCormack and Ozzie Virgil to name two – and Keith Moreland on the bench.
None of them, however, have Boone's experience, which is a valuable commodity when it comes to catching in the big leagues.
Carlton, Brett honored as performers of the year
NEW YORK – The Phillies' Steve Carlton and George Brett of the Kansas City Royals – opponents in the World Series – shared the 1980 Performers of the Year honors in the annual poll of major league managers conducted by Baseball Magazine.
Lefthander Carlton, who was 24-9 for the world champion Phils, collected eight first-places votes from the 12 NL managers and out-distanced teammate Mike Schmidt with 54 total points to Schmidt's 31.
Montreal's Gary Carter was a distant third with 14 points, with Los Angeles' Dusty Baker fourth with 12 and Keith Hernandez of St. Louis, the 1979 winner, was fifth with 11.
Third baseman Brett, who flirted with .400 most of the second half of the season and finished at .390, polled eight first-place ballots in the AL and had 58 points to 34 for runner-up Rich Gossage, relief ace of the New York Yankees.
Milwaukee's Cecil Cooper was third with 20 points, Baltimore's' Steve Stone fourth with 18 and New York's Reggie Jackson fifth with 15.
Carlton led the NL pitchers with 286 strikeouts in 304 innings pitched and had a 2.34 earned run average for his 38 starts. Brett became only the second man in AL history to have more RBI than games played when he batted in 118 runs in 117 games. Brett had 24 homers and 14 game-winning RBI.
Hernandez's finish was the highest by a previous winner in the three-year history of the manager's poll with the NL votes split up among a record 20 different players.
Now, Tug, is that any way for a hero to talk?
By Pete Finley of the Courier-Post
How do you spell "Tasteless?" How do you spell "No class?"
This is my World Series column. I shall say no more about it. Enough is enough. Too bad it ended on a sour note.
Relief pitcher par excellence Tug McGraw, he of the screwball personality and pitch, had the last word last Wednesday when he was introduced to thousands in the stands at JFK Memorial Stadium in South Philadelphia and to perhaps millions more on television (his gaffe was given even greater spread on the taped portions of the news programs later that night).
He had the last word of a moment that has been pledged to us as a moment that will not only live forever in the history of Philadelphia but will live as the brightest moment. (Please forgive them Ben Franklin and William Penn and you Barrymores and John Bartram and Leopold Stokowski and Eugene Ormandy and Tommy Loughran and so many others. Maybe they were only kidding.)
Whoever planned to give McGraw the final word on the Phillies fantastic finish surely didn't expect to hear what came out of the man's mouth. That much I want to believe. "Stick it..." is still reverberating around classrooms and living rooms. Gosh Tug, I thought you could handle what's happened to you during the past few weeks.
He addressed his immortal message to New York. I'm not sure if he meant the city or the Yankees or the Mets who traded him to the Phils. There might be a story there. Is he, has he been, miffed at the Mets for trading him? Is he, has he been, upset because he misses the glamour and excitement of the Big Apple? He addressed his immortal message to New York but it was pronounced before a crowd of more than 100,000 Philadelphia fans, 70 percent of whom were kids.
I go as the song goes... I love New York. The first time I visited there was when our family docked at Ellis Island as immigrants from Ireland. I have' been back to the Big Town not nearly often enough. New York is it. IT. New York is the capital of the world. A person who cannot feel its magic, its uniqueness, its excitement, its permanence, its consuming spell is wrecked. Like somebody once said, "When you leave New York, you're camping out."
But why bring New York into the Phillies scene at all? And if McGraw felt compelled to, why in such a classless fashion?
What McGraw doesn't realize is that we are all teachers. We all learn from each other. What we see others doing influences us. The younger we are, the greater the influence.
McGraw doesn't realize that the teachers among us with the greatest influence on others are our heroes, especially our sports heroes. And nobody can deny that because of his wonderful, superlative clutch pitching of the past two months, particularly during the playoffs against the Houston Astros and in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, McGraw is absolutely the biggest hero in town. People have put up signs all over the place. "McGraw for President" signs are among them.
There is no doubt about what reaction parents would have to a teacher who would use McGraw's expression in the classroom. They would agree that the classroom is not the proper setting for such remarks, by either pupil or teacher. Last Wednesday, Tug the Teacher had the biggest classroom in the country and fumbled bis assignment badly. Worse, his students present and listening on television cheered him.
An interesting observation on the World Series parade was made by Oaklyn Public School Principal Henry Lindner. "I wonder," he said, "if the same recognition will be given to the discoverer of the cure for cancer?"
Well, Henry, you know that to be discriminate in our thinking does not make either of us resentful of what the Phils have accomplished in this up and down baseball season. But to answer your question, I'd have to ask how much money do we pay our research doctors and chemists and other scientists and how much do we pay our sports heroes?
Ask the average person about polio. I can hear it now. "Jonas Who? Oh, Jonas Salk? Er, ah, who's he?"