Pitchers and catchers report very soon. Hope will be springing eternal. The Winter Caravan will be visiting the region and fans will get a chance to be met and greeted. The Eagles’ run has been exciting, and I am looking forward to the heart of the college basketball season pumping wildly with my (currently, at least) #1 North Carolina Tar Heels playing well. But really, for me, all that is just what I do on the way to Spring Training and the baseball season.
THE GARCIA FACTOR…..The Eagles’ resurgence has included some stellar play by Jeff Garcia. I’ve always liked him and am happy he is doing well. But he’s got a team that came together around him also playing well and that is what it takes.
The Phillies, apparently, not to be outdone, have – – – THREE Garcias now on the team, with the signing today of the left-handed-hitting Karim Garcia. Recently, they signed Orioles’ castoff Anderson Garcia, a right-handed pitcher. But the one we’re all hoping will deliver as he had in Chicago, of course, is Freddy Garcia. This Garcia, too, needs a team around him, one that will gel together as a team that pulls for one another, and I have great hope that this will happen this year. His arrival has made me feel a whole lot better about the starting pitching staff, a staff that’s going to have to be good if GM Gillick can’t assemble the bullpen the way he’s envisioned it. With Myers, Garcia and Moyer, the Phils have 3 guys who can go deep into games – something that didn’t happen a whole lot last season, especially in the first half. And we’ll just have to wait and see how Adam Eaton’s health plays out. Hopefully, he’ll have at least a .500 season. And unless he gets hurt, it looks like cole Hamels is the rea deal and we shouldn’t have to worry about him. Jon Leiber? I’m personally counting on the fact that Pat will find a way to trade him, even if we have to wait until Spring Training. Then again, it might be sooner. Some team might lose someone to one of those freaky off-season injuries – catching a finger somewhere dumb, slicing a tendon with an ice skate – that kind of thing.
I hope the team finds a place for Chris Coste to play. Of course Barajas is an upgrade, but Coste had some clutch hits last season and the soft edges of my heart wants him to get some decent major league service in. Beyond being just a fuzzy story, I thought he played pretty well last year. And is Ruiz the future? Who knows? I was under the impression that Jason Jamarillo was someone the team was looking to for the future, but he’s not on the 40-man and Ryan Budde is. Personally, I think catcher is still a position, along with third base, that has to be addressed for the long run.
THE LONELINESS OF THE LEFT-FIELDER – – I’ve always worn my feelings for Pat Burrell on my sleeve. All last year, despite sometime frustrations, I still supported him. But if Gillick is unable to make a trade for him, I hope Burrell does make some changes for his own good this coming season. I hope he takes his bat off his shoulder more for strike three; I hope his foot and ankle problems are better so he can run and field a little better than last season; I hope he comes into the 2007 season relaxed and not thinking so much; and I hope the fans give him some slack for a few weeks. The angry mob will start roaring early if he gets off to a slow start. And then it will be all over for him for once and for all. Maybe the Dallas Green story will motivate him. Maybe Gillick’s visit to him will help, I don’t know. But I, for one, with him nothing but the best. If he does well in ’07, it is nothing but a win-win.
DODGER BLUE – – The two pals named Leiberthal and Wolfe will be playing together and wearing Dodger uniforms starting this season. I wish them both well. I’ve never been a huge Leiby fan, as I thought he helped throw Bowa under the bus (I’m not a big Bowa fan, but a lot of the players threw him under the bus) and I never felt that the pitchers were real comfortable with him calling a game…..going all the way back to "Schill." But he was pretty tough and always played hard, and he and Wolf get to play on the field of their boyhood dreams. That’s a nice thing for any player.
And that is it until next time. Go Birds. Go Heels. Come on, Phils.