Camden Courier-Post - March 4, 1980
Phils cold about last season
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
CLEARWATER. Fla. – It was a morning more suited to a port that would make Eric Heiden feel at home. With record-breaking cold temperatures sweeping the Gulf Coast, it most certainly was not baseball weather.
Despite the unseasonable chill, the Phillies yesterday went, through their final voluntary workouts before the official opening of spring training today. As on Sunday, when no one dared venture outside the warmth of the Carpenter Complex locker room, much of yesterday's session took place inside.
A few players such as reliever Ron Reed did their running out of doors, and some others, worked in the batting cages. But even those hearty souls spent time closeted in the club house, giving them a few moments to reflect upon what transpired last year and what may be in store for this season.
LAST YEAR was a dismal one for the Phillies. After winning three consecutive National League Eastern Division championships, they fell to fourth place. A series of injuries, along with an inexplicable inattention to fundamentals, were blamed for the club finishing with a 84-78 record and 14 games behind Pittsburgh in the East.
"Last year," shortstop Larry Bowa said between sips of hot coffee, "we had 84 wins. Considering the guys we had out of the lineup, I don't see how you can get more out of a season than that."
When considering the Phillies' 1979 season, injuries must be taken into account. Certainly, there were other factors in the club's decline. But nothing contributed as heavily to the Phils' troubles as injuries.
Of the eight players considered regulars on the club, only first baseman Pete Rose did not miss a game because of injuries. Second baseman Manny Trillo was out 46 games with a broken arm, leftfielder Greg Luzinski missed 26, catcher Bob Boone 23 and Bowa 16. Overall, the Phillies' starters were together on the field for fewer than half of the club's 162 games.
THE PITCHING staff was even in worse condition. The Phillies began the season without two key righthanders: starter Larry Christenson and reliever Warren Brusstar. During the year they lost, to one injury or another, lefthander Randy Lerch, reliever Doug Bird, righthander Dick Ruthven and Christenson again.
Every starter missed at last one turn on the mound, with perhaps the low point of the season coming on July 4, when Ruthven and Christenson were put on the disabled list and Lerch broke his wrist. The Phils' starting rotation was reduced from five to two in a span of 24 hours.
"I know," Bowa continued after a brisk workout in the batting cage, "the fans don't want to hear about the injuries. But you have to admit it was odd – all those injuries. Psychologically you just can't regroup from injuries when they happen like that.
“It is1 true we didn't play the way we were supposed to fundamentally. There was one point when we were supposed to bunt a runner over 18 times and couldn't do it. There's no excuse for that. That has nothing to do with injuries. That's just bad baseball."
BEING HURT and playing "bad baseball" is no way to win your division, something Bowa thinks the Phillies would not have done no matter what their medical state.
"Even if we were healthy, I don't think we could've won," he said. "We would've been much closer, but Pittsburgh played super."
Closing the gap between the Phillies and the Pirates, who must be considered the favorite in the East, is part of the reason why Manager Dallas Green held voluntary workouts last week.
Green wanted to see how well the ' players coming off injuries – especially Ruthven, Brusstar and Jim Wright – had recovered. Green cannot make a move to fill the club's two basic needs, relief pitching and righthanded pinch-hitting, until he knows who can play and who cannot.
"WE NEED some luck to repair the injured guys to be as competitive as they were in the past," Green said. "We need direction, some attention to baseball fundamentals, some conditioning.
"We need righthanded (hitting) help, which we'll possibly get from (Keith) Moreland or (Lonnie) Smith. If we don't make any deals and it doesn't look like we're going to, I'm not afraid to go to war with the people we have."
It will be interesting to see if solving the problem areas through the system will work.
PHIL UPS – The entire 46-man roster is to be here for this morning's opening of camp... Smith, outfielder Greg Gross and pitcher Dickie Notes were snowbound in North Carolina yesterday... Rose. was reported last seen in Ft. Lauderdale doing a shaving lotion commercial... Relievers Tug McGraw and Lerrin LaGrow reported yesterday, bringing the number of pitchers already in camp to 15... Pitcher Burke Suter pulled a groin muscle the other day while taking part in one of Gus Hoefling's flexibility drills.
Bowa wants contract adjusted
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
CLEARWATER, Fla. – In light of the circumstances, Larry Bowa would like to have his contract adjusted. He makes no bones about it. He would like a raise of some kind from the Phillies.
The circumstances that have the Phillies' shortstop talking in terms of more money are unrelated to anything happening in the Philadelphia spring training camp.
Rather, it was the St. Louis Cardinals' recent signing of their shortstop Garry Templeton to a six year pact worth $4 million that piqued Bowa's sense of fair play.
"As far as I'm concerned, that puts him as the top paid shortstop in baseball," Bowa said yesterday. "He's played only three years, I've played 10. I'm in a position right now, after all I've done for this organization, that I think (owner) Ruly Carpenter would come to me and, say, alter my contract or give me some compensation."
Bowa is not a particularly greedy man and his point is well taken. Under the present terms of his contract, which expires at the end of the 1982 season, Bowa makes a reported $280,000, which may not be among the the top five salaries among major league baseball's shortstops.
"There's no way he (Templeton) is worth twice as much as I am," Bowa said. "I'm signed and I'm going to live up to my contract. I won't negotiate. I'll play because I'm signed, but if I don't (have his contract adjusted) I'll be bitter, about it. I never said I want to be the top paid shortstop. I just want to be in the top five."
You cannot accurately compare the relative importance of Bowa and Templeton to their respective clubs. Templeton is an outstanding switch-hitter who last season became the first player ever to get 100 hits from both sides of the plate. But his defensive shortcomings are serious enough to make him a liability in the field.
Bowa has never been known as much of a hitter. Sure, he hit over .300 in 1975 and .294 in 1978, but it is his defense that has set him apart from the pedestrian shortstops of baseball. Make no mistake, Larry Bowa is one of the finest fielders ever to play the position.
"You talk about driving in runs, well,' how many runs have I saved over the course of my career?" he asked. "I've ' done some things no shortstop has ever done. I don't think it's right for the owner of the team, knowing I'm the best, not to do anything about it."
Bowa's contract has been renegotiated in the past, a point General Manager Paul Owens makes whenever the subject is mentioned. Owens does not say. that the club will not adjust Bowa's contract. But he complains that the Phillies cannot possibly hand out raises whenever a rival player signs a big contract, something which seems to occur with great frequency.
"We can't renegotiate every time somebody signs," Owens said. "He (Bowa), hasn't talked to me about it and, as far as I know, he hasn't spoken to Ruly."
Both sides have some validity. It is easy to understand how a player like Bowa, who has been around awhile, paid his dues, worked to make himself one of best, would find it unfair that a relative newcomer such as Templeton would be getting paid more money. It is the kind of knee-jerk reaction that a veteran of any business would have. Baseball is not the only world in which the salary of one person is resented by another.
But Owens also is right in principle. The Phillies cannot empty their coffers every time one of their player's egos is bruised by another team's signing someone.
Obviously, Bowa and Owens or Carpenter should be discussing the situation right now, before it becomes and issue that could leave Bowa bitter and the organization wondering why.
In the end, the solution seems clear. The Phillies should reward Bowa for his talent and, most importantly, his loyalty and his bring his contract more in line with what the other top shortstops in baseball are making.