Camden Courier-Post - March 12, 1980

Phils want to keep Garry Maddox


By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post


CLEARWATER, Fla. – It seems no one is eager to have Garry Maddox leave the Phillies. From the highest levels of the front office right down to the grounds-keepers, there is a consensus that Maddox belongs in Philadelphia.


General Manager Paul Owens, the man who said on Monday that he would trade his center fielder rather than lose him in next fall's free-agent draft, would like very much for Maddox to finish his career in Philadelphia.


"I think," Owens said yesterday, “Garry Maddox would play just as hard signed or unsigned – that's what we have to weigh. If some other team would be willing to use him for a year, certainly he would help me for a year."


Maddox, the man who seems committed to testing his value on the free-agent market when his current contract expires at the end of the year, is going about the business of getting ready for the season as if there were no impasse in negotiations between his agent, Jerry Kapstein, and the Phillies for a new pact.


"Anything," Maddox said, "that deals with trades is out of my hands. I have every intention of getting trained, getting mentally prepared to play for the Phillies this season."


Maddox' teammates would like nothing better than to see him in his accustomed spot between Greg Luzinski and Bake McBride. Indeed, some of the Phillies are privately wondering if they would be able to win the National League Eastern Division title without Maddox.


Said pitcher Randy Learch: "If you get used to eating steak for a long time, then suddenly you have to eat hot dogs, you get to like those steaks pretty well... And Garry Maddox is prime choice."


If all concerned want so much for Maddox to remain a Phillie, why then does it seem he will not be with the team too much longer? Why would Owens risk trading the finest defensive center fielder in the league in a year that promises nothing but improvement from last season's sorry fourth-place finish? Why would Maddox take a chance with another team, one on which his presence might be resented, when he can play for a contending club in a city that respects him as a player and a person? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be money. Owens is more than willing to give Maddox a long-term contract, but he does not want to throw the club's salary structure into chaos by paying Maddox the kind of cash he is demanding. If Owens does it for Maddox, then he will have to pay Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski and some others accordingly when their contracts expire.


"I'm not saying what I said (about trading Maddox) as a threat, to hold something over somebody's head," said Owens. "But I've got to think of the ballclub and the guys whose contracts will be coming up in the future."


Maddox, who, according to one report is asking the Phillies for $1 million a year, understands perfectly Owens' position. Still, he feels his talent can demand that kind of money and, if the Phillies won't pay it, some other club will.


"The Phillies have their ideas of how they want to pay and I have to respect that," said Maddox. "I think my play talks for itself. I've considered all the possibilities, and the Phillies made it clear what their options are."


There are essentially three options open to the Phillies, meet Maddox' terms and be prepared for the demands that surely will come to renegotiate other contracts; trade Maddox and be prepared to finish somewhere other than in first place in the East; or, allow him to play the season unsigned, then join in the bidding for him after the free-agent draft.


There is precedent within the organization for the third option. The Phillies permitted catcher Bob Boone to play while negotiations were being held for his contract during last season. And, they allowed outfielder Greg Gross to test his market value, signing him after they were among seven teams to pick him in last November's re-entry draft.


Most likely, the Phillies will follow the precedent in Maddox' case. Owens is not about to give him up in a trade unless Owens can command someone of the calibre of, say, San Diego's Dave Winfield , or Chicago reliever Bruce Sutter.


Certainly, a wait-and-see approach such as that would be preferable to Maddox leaving the Phillies sometime prior to the June 15 trade deadline. Which is something no one wants to see.

Phils may trade for Orioles’ Smith


By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post


CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies are now in the process of finalizing a trade that would bring utility infielder Billy Smith to Philadelphia from Baltimore.


With some details still to be ironed out, the Phils most likely will send rookie outfielder Orlando Isales and one or more minor league players to the Orioles for Smith, whom the Phillies hope will fill a gap in the bench.


Isales is one of the "Kiddie Corps" of Latin ballplayers the Phillies signed a few years ago. He was 15 years old when Ruben Amaro and Luis Peraza discovered him in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Now, after five years in the Phillies' farm system, Isales is heading for Baltimore.


•  The Cincinnati Reds have offered the Phillies nghtfielder Ken Griffey in exchange for Garry Maddox. The Phillies are considering the offer, but a couple-things would have to take place for the trade to be consummated. Like Maddox, Griffey intends to play this year unsigned and test his worth as a free agent in the fall. The Phillies probably would take him only if he agreed to sign with them. Griffey is coming off a knee injury, and the club would want doctors to give Griffey a clean bill of health.


•  Rookie first baseman John Poff, who, at age 27 has spent the last six years in the minor leagues, would prefer to be traded rather than play another season at Oklahoma City, the Phils' Triple-A farm club.


Poff, who has hit .293 and .300 the last two years for the 89ers, has little chance of making the Phillies’ 25-man roster with Pete Rose at first base. Poff has played the outfield and has been working out in the outfield since spring training began last week. But his hopes of earning a job there are even less than at first base.


"I strongly believe I'm ready to play in the big leagues," he said yesterday. "I can't perform with one eye on the roster and the manager. "I'm realistic about it, but I came to spring training to play baseball with some team."


Poff was in a similar situation last season. when he declared he would not return to Oklahoma City. But he did and wound up driving in 90 runs and hitting 20 home runs.


"I've learned from other people's experiences not to say never in baseball situations," he said. "Last year, my attitude was obviously different. But once I decided I would go (to Oklahoma City). I played well. I felt if I had a good year they couldn't do that to me again."


The New York Mets would like to have Poff because they need a good lefthanded hitter. But whether the Phillies trade Poff to the Mets – or anywhere, for that matter – remains to be seen.


Indeed, John Poff may be facing a very difficult decision by the conclusion of spring training, having to choose between returning to the minors or perhaps giving up the game.


•  Phillies worked on rundown plays yesterday. Their first intra-squad game was scheduled for this afternoon. Much attention will be paid to the performance of injured pitchers Dick Ruthven and Jim Wright.