Baseball Magazine - April, 1980
Baseball Magazine's predictions were written by the same author as the Baseball Illustrate's prognostication, so it goes to reason that the two magazines had the same outlook on the Phillies. Once again the Phillies' pitching staff was called into question as the team was targeted for fourth place in 1980.
N.L. East: Philadelphia Phillies
by Dan Schlossberg
1979: 84-78 .519 (4th in NL East) * Team BA .266 (4th) * Home Runs 119 (8th) * Runs 683 (7th)
* Stolen Bases 128 (6th) * ERA 4.16 (T-10th) * Complete Games 33 (T-3rd) * Saves 29 (10th)
The highest-paid team in the National League last year, the Philadelphia Phillies hardly justified their average salary of $159,000 per man.
Though they finished six games over .500, they wound up fourth, 14 games behind, in the NL East- victims of sudden slumps and massive injuries.
Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, and Steve Carlton did well, but few other Phils played up to their championship form of previous years.
The good defense was there, as always, but a return to the top in 1980 depends on a host of comebacks.
Switch-hitting infielders Pete Rose and Larry Bowa had opposite years. Rose, now 39, prospered in the first year of his $800,000-per-season contract and finished second in the batting race to Keith Hernandez of St. Louis.
The one-time Cincinnati star put together a 23-game hitting streak, longest in the majors, in September and hit .524 (29-for-55) over a two-week span through September 23. The hot streak coincided with his return to the leadoff spot under new manager Dallas Green, who replaced Danny Ozark.
Rose also belied the legend that he is slow; he stole 20 bases, a career high. His batting average was .331.
On the other hand, Bowa fell more than 50 points to .241, Greg Luzinski's 18 homers were about half what management expected, and both Garry Maddox and Bake McBride hit well below their career averages.
Spray-hitting Greg Gross, an outfielder who became a free agent, was the only Phil besides Rose to top .300, but Mike Schmidt produced a career-high 45 homers, three behind league-leader Dave Kingman. Schmidt's 114 RBI were two short of his career peak.
Schmidt, who lead the league with 120 bases on balls, was the fourth Phil to hit at least 40 home runs in a season. Chuck Klein did it twice and Dick Allen and Cy Williams once each.
Unfortunately for both the Phils and Schmidt, the powerful third baseman is a streak hitter who can go for weeks without a hit. He is also the only player in baseball history who hit four consecutive home runs twice. Schmidt's latest feat came against San Francisco last summer, when he homered in his last trip Friday night and his first three trips Saturday night.
Asked about his tendency to hit in streaks, the infielder replied, "I can't explain it. If I could, I'd do something about it."
Management tried. Danny Ozark moved Schmidt around in the batting order in attempts to end his slumps, and even tried using him as leadoff hitter, with Rose dropped to third.
When he's "on," however, Schmidt normally bats third in an effort to capitalize on his speed- in the event he walks, or hits a single or double instead of a home run.
The Phils would benefit greatly from a return to form of Greg Luzinski, who had at least 35 homers and 100 RBI in each of the two seasons previous to the disaster of 1979.
Maddox and McBride, other outfielders, both hit in the .280 range with a dozen or so homers and 60 RBI last summer- and both can do better.
Catcher Bob Boone, an eight-year Phil who hurt his knee in a late-season collision with Joel Youngblood of New York, has a new four-year contract and should begin the season in good health. He's a fine hitter with some power.
Four Phils swiped at least 20 bases last season, but Dallas Green would like to employ more of a running game. Much depends on the comeback of Larry Bowa, who has topped 30 three times.
Maddox led the club with 26 a year ago, followed by McBride (25) and Bowa and Rose, with 20 apiece. Mike Schmidt once swiped 29 in a season, had five straight years of at least 14 until 1979, and may be asked to run more.
Four Phils won Gold Gloves for fielding excellence last year and Larry Bowa- whose .991 mark was the best ever by a shortstop in a single season- should have.
Philadelphia is the best defensive club in the NL and led the circuit with a .983 percentage and only 106 errors. The catching corps committed only five passed balls, one more than league-leader Montreal.
Both Garry Maddox and Bake McBride are outfielders who can fly, and there's good speed in the infield, where third baseman Mike Schmidt and second baseman Manny Trillo were two of the Gold Glove selections.
Maddox and catcher Bob Boone were the others.
Pete Rose is an adequate first baseman who could play left field if needed. One rumor from the Toronto winter meetings had incumbent left-fielder Greg Luzinski, not the world's fastest runner, headed to his home-town Cubs in a deal for first baseman Bill Buckner and others. If such a deal materialized, it would improve the Phils defensively at two positions.
Steve Carlton, 35, pitched the fifth one-hitter of his career last summer and was equally superlative on the season's last day, when he whitewashed the pennant-hungry Expos, 2-0. Carlton's four shutouts ranked second in the league and his 18 victories tied for second behind the Niekro brothers, who had 21 each.
Nino Espinosa, who blossomed into a 14-game winner, ranked second to Carlton on the Philadelphia staff after leaving the last-place Mets in the spring.
But all three other starters- Dick Ruthven, Larry Christenson, and Randy Lerch- were devastated by the injury jinx.
Ruthven had a spectacular second half with the 1978 Phils after returning from Atlanta, but never got untracked last season. He had bursitis in the spring, then suffered a groin pull which altered his motion. The result was pain in the elbow- the result of a strained ulnar nerve (the same problem suffered by the Mets' Pat Zachary).
Like Ruthven, Christenson's problems began early. He broke his collarbone when he fell off a bicycle during Tug McGraw's charity bike-a-thon to spring training. He subsequently suffered a severely strained right groin muscle while backing away from a pitch, then had a bone spur removed from his right clavicle.
Lerch, a promising lefthander, broke the navicular bone in his right (non-pitching) wrist in a garage scuffle with seven hoods. Team physician Dr. Phillip Marone said Lerch would have been out for the year if he had broken the other wrist.
Relievers Tug McGraw (broken right forearm) and Warren Brusstar (strained right shoulder) also were sidelined at times, leaving veteran Ron Reed to do the bulk of the bullpen work. He was 13-8 with five saves, but joined the rest of the relief corps in a universal collapse of effectiveness. Reed's 4.15 ERA was the best of a bad lot from the bullpen.
Should Ruthven, Christenson and Lerch prove healthy, they will join Carlton and Espinosa in rotation and take some of the strain off the relief crew. Righthander Dickie Noles, who was 3-4 in limited service, showed promise as a potential starter.
Rebuilding the bullpen is essential if the Phils are to return to contention. Though he saved 16 games last year, the club's busiest reliever- lefty Tug McGraw- had a 5.14 ERA and tied a major league record by yielding four grand-slam home runs. Oddly, all were hit by lefthanded hitters.
Likeliest rookie in Philly livery? The answer's easy: pitcher Bob Walk, a 22-year-old righthander whose 2.24 ERA and 135 strikeouts led the Eastern League in 1979.
The 6-3 Walk has put together two excellent years. In 1978, he was runner-up in ERA in the Carolina League, where he went 13-8 for Peninsula. If he can make the jump from Double-A, Walk could be a regular starter for the Phillies. Teammate Jerry Reed (11-4, 9 SV, 1.91) is a strong relief candidate.
Marty Bystrom, 21, also has designs on a starter's job after a 9-5 year at Oklahoma City (Amer. Assoc.), where he was the top strikeout pitcher on the club. Scott Munninghoff, whose 14 wins matched the league high in the Eastern League, is a third starting hopeful.
Bystrom, owner of a good fastball but better slider, improved over the season's second half, while Walk and Munninghoff were consistent all year. Walk excels when he keeps his fastball down, while Munninghoff relies on a sinker with excellent movement.
Among non-pitchers, likely major-leaguers are catcher Keith Moreland (.302, 20, 109 at Oklahoma City) and second baseman Jay Loviglio, who stole 55 bases for Reading. Luis Aguayo, a versatile infielder up from AAA ball, could make it as a handyman.
Moreland, who can also handle third, tied teammate John Poff, a first baseman-outfielder, for the league lead in doubles, with 34, while fleet outfielder Lonnie Smith (34 SB) led the loop with 106 runs scored, on a .330 average. Poff tied Moreland in home runs, while the catcher lead the league with 21 game-winning RBI.
"Moreland is going to play a lot of baseball for us," said Dallas Green, who managed him in September with the Phillies. "He proved to us the last month of the season that he can do the job."
Dallas Green has an excellent defensive club with the potential to produce enough runs to score more than the opposition. The bench is solid (outfielder Del Unser hit three straight pinch-homers last summer) and there is ample young blood so that some of the veterans can rest.
The Phils have many "ifs," but there's no question about the quality or quantity of big-name talent. Despite the positives, however, keeping pace with the other top contenders won't be easy.
Prediction: 4th place.