Buck Showalter is back managing.
I always liked and respected Buck, even though at times he seemed a bit too uptight. Let’s remember that after the Yanks hit rock-bottom 1989-1992, that it was Buck who got them back to respectability and to the postseason (1995, first time since 1981 and let’s not forget the best record in the AL in the wasted 1994 season) before Torre got them to the top.
But I wonder if Buck should have waited. For he is taking over the worst team in baseball, the Orioles. I don’t know if Buck would have been considered for the Cubs job, in which Ryne Sandberg is the sentimental favorite, but I just don’t think the Orioles are a good fit for him. Oh well, at least Buck has the Boss experiences to fall back on for his new dealings with Angelos. He may need it.
Meanwhile, the Phils made a big move today in getting Roy Oswalt from the Astros. The last NL team to win three consecutive pennants were the Cardinals of 1942-1944. Those teams are often overlooked because of WWII. They won the WS in 1942 and 1944 with players such as P Mort Cooper (1942 MVP), C Walker Cooper (Mort’s brother), 1943 MVP and HOFer Stan Musial, HOF Enos Slaughter, 1944 MVP Marty Marion, Whitey Kurowski, Terry Moore, and Max Lanier. Billy Southworth was the manager.
Could the Phils now become the first NL team to win three conecutive pennants since those Cardinal teams? They have Halladay as the ace and his record should be better than 12-8, given his 2.21 ERA (Halladay had the perfect game earlier this year). Cole Hamels is just 7-7, but the ERA is a respectable 3.48. You don’t know when you get the “Ancient Ex-Mariner,” 47 year old Jamie Moyer back (9-9, 4.84). I’m not a big believer in Kyle Kendrick (6-4, 4.60) or Joe Blanton (4-6, 5.85). However now you have Oswalt, who despite leading the majors in losses (6-12) has an ERA of 3.42. A nice 1-2-3 punch. Oswalt is 143-82, 3.24, ERA+ 134 for his career and brings postseason experience as well (2005 pennant winning Astros, for one).
He’ll be 33 soon so this is a NOW move. Happ isn’t that young, he’ll be 28 soon, and he’s been injured. He did show promise last year (12-4, 2.93), 2nd in ROY voting but he’s only pitched three games for the Phils this year. If he develops and Oswalt doesn’t help the Phils to a pennant, then maybe a bad move. But the Phils are going for the now. (An aside: I felt that Charlie Manuel did the Yanks a favor in starting Pedro in games 2 and 6 at Yankee Stadium in last year’s WS. Pedro lost both games. I felt that the Phils’ move should have been Happ instead of Pedro).
Of course, getting Chase Utley back healthy would help them even more. Having Jimmy Rollins produce (.244, OPS+93) would help too. Even though he won an MVP, I’ve always felt that Rollins hasn’t gotten the most of his ability. His career OPS+ is still just a 97. Even though the Phils won the pennant last year, Rollins OBP was terrible. Just .296. His 162 g average is .273-17-72 with 37 steals but 55 walks. He needs to walk more.
With Shane Victorino on the DL, the Phils called up top prospect Domonic Brown, who went 2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI in his MLB debut. His first MLB ab was an RBI double that came close to going yard. I saw his stance, and he holds his bat high. How high? When I first saw him, the only player I recalled having the hands up that high was Yaz.
Now it will be interesting to see how say, Doc/Oswalt/Hamels matches up against the Cardinals trio. Carpenter (11-3, 3.09), Wainwright (14-6, 2.23) and Garcia (9-4, 2.33) are formidable. I’m not too sold on Lidge or Franklin no matter what their records as closers, however. Maybe I am just spoiled with Mo.
The Giants don’t have a bad foursome Lincecum 10-4, 3.12, Cain 8-8, 3.14, a revitalized Zito 8-6, 3.49 and Jonathan Sanchez 7-6, 3.55. I like their closer, Brian “the Beach Boy” Wilson over Lidge or Franklin. As for the Braves, the starters outside of Hudson aren’t impressing me too much but Billy Wagner (why retire? 5-1, 1.69 with 23 saves) and Johnny Venters 3-0, 1.07 have been fabulous, not to mention other bullpen arms in Peter Moylan (3-1, 2.68), Saito (1-3, 3.41) and O’Flaherty (3-1, 2.30). Starters? or bullpen? If the Braves starters (Hudson ERA 2.40 but others at 3.99, 4.48, 4.37, 4.75) keep them in the game, then…
The Phils helped themselves with Oswalt…but they need Utley and a revitalized Rollins more. They have played good ball this week, cutting the lead to 3 1/2. We’ll see if Oswalt gives the Phils a boost.
Update: Miguel Tejada dealt to SD. Tejada seems cooked, 36, .269-7-39 in a bandbox and now he is going to a tougher park to hit in. The Padres were trying to find a stick, so…
Texas gets Jorge Cantu from the Marlins. .259-10-54. He’ll give some versatility. Nice deadline for the Rangers. Lee and Cantu.