Sunday, July 23, 2006

Out In The Phillies' On-Deck Circle: Art Vandalay

Jeez ... it seems like only last week when, before he became a Phillie, Art Vandalay was a fictitious latex salesman.
Well, envisioning Art Vandalay in his Phillie pinstripes as he applies the pine tar to the handle of his Louisville Slugger in the on-deck circle is a more-comforting proposition than what's warming up in the Phillies bullpen right now.
Yup ... it's fictitious ex-bullfighter Eduardo Corocho.
Elaine dated him.
Don't look now, but SoonToBeFired Charles Fuqua Manuel (which is NOT a make-believe character, depending whom you ask), is making a double switch.
Which means that Vandalay will hit in the pitcher's spot and Corocho ... WAIT!
Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

There's no guarantee that when the Phillies trade Bobby Abreu this week that they'll get stuck with an Art Vandalay and an Eduardo Corocho.
After all, with Pat Gillick as the GM wavin' a magic wand (instead of that prolific pencilneck named Ed Wade crash-landing paper airplanes next to his desk), there's an excellent chance that the Phillies will end up with a top-flight pitcher.
Maybe two.
Or three.
Which kinda reminds ya of what New York Mammoths pitcher Henry Wiggen said during his holdout when he was informed that some of those pitchers looked very promising.
"So I hear. Any one of 'em might win four or five games if God drops everything else."

Henry Wiggen ... he was ficticious character, too -- but it was no laughing matter watching Henry's catcher, Bruce Pearson, dying of cancer.
Worse than that was De Niro playing Pearson in the movie and deploying one of the most god-awful swing known to mankind.
The Phillies ... they'd kill for a Henry Wiggen right now.
Cory Lidle?
Say, isn't that the utensil that's used to serve up goodness from a big kettle of soup, a big pot of chili or a big crock pot of stew?
Sure ... a lidle.

Everybody has his/her role in the Bobby Abreu Sweepstakes. Buster Olney (and others) forsee Abreu in Yankee pinstripes. Last weekend, reformed sex addict Steve Phillips predicted that Abreu would soon be wearing the Redbirds home whites.
Then, last Mon., the buzz from the Baltimore Sun was that the Abreu would/could/should come to the Orioles in exchange for Rodrigo Lopez.
Whether that's a dead deal, it sounds inviting -- particularly with Lopez's 6-11 record and ERA of 6-plus.
His Phillies "audition" in Tampa Bay on Sat. didn't work out so well. Staked to a 3-0 lead, Lopez tossed three shutout innings before imploding during the 10-run Devil Ray uprising in the fourth inning.
If Rod-Lo becomes a Phillie, it's not too difficult to picture him winning anywhere from seven to nine games a year for the next 2.3 seasons.
"If God drops everything else ... "

The planets were all aligned for Rod-Lo to take his game to Philly, given his bang-up job in Tampa combined with the fact that the Phils had just dumped catcher Sal Fasano.
SUDDENLY ... there was a uniform #13 available, just itchin' to have some "LOPEZ" stitchin' across the back.
And, it's been so long since a Phillie pitcher wore #13.
Not since the early days of Turk Wendell earlier in this century. Before that, we have to rewind all the way to Roger McDowell late last century.

Which did seem ironic, given that Rodge was in the visitors' dugout (as the Braves' pitching coach) at The Cit as EspyTime Theater presented Sunday Night Baseball and a pitchers' duel between "alleged" wife-puncher Brett Myers and the Bravos' Horacio Ramirez.
Tough loss for the alleged wife-puncher pitcher vs. the opposing manager (who, when his mug would appear on TV, I'd crack up the Mrs. with, "This ballgame is wife-slappin' good!").

In one of his final at-bats as a Phillie, Abreu tried to leg out a double leading off the 8th, but was cut down by Francoeur's throw.
Then, Frankie tagged Flash for a 3-run jack in the top of the 9th.
But, this isn't an Ode To The Imploding Pitching Staff.
This is where we Bid Adieu To Abreu and his 8.75 seasons of service. When he is finally dealt, not too many of those "knowledgable" Phillie fanatics who pack The Cit to 63 percent of capacity are going to rank this trade up there with Richie Hebner-for-Nino Espinosa or Bake McBride-for-Sid Monge.
Now, the pressure's on Gillick to erase the memories of the past 10 years of Phillie "superstar dumps."
Darren Daulton for Billy McMillon in '97 ... Schilling for Daal, Lee, Padilla & Figueroa in '01 ... Rolen for Polanco, Timlin and Frickin' Bud Frickin' Smith in '02.

The Phillies' penchant for getting Vandalay and Corocho in exchange for a star is the type of wheelin' & dealin' which one might expect from an organization with an assistant GM with a degree in biology amd with one world championship in 120-plus years of existence.
Daulton HAD to go because, shucks ... his lifetime .245 average deserves a world title.
Schilling HAD to go because he was a loudmouth and, ummm ... loudmouths need to win 20 games and World Series rings elsewhere.
Rolen HAD to go because he was anti-Phillie with his hard work and production and will to win, factors which Dallas Green and Bowa informed the media were poisoning the Phillie clubhouse.

Players such as Rolen and Abreu aren't leaders in the clubhouse, which dimishes their 30 HR/100 rbi/.300 avg., year in/year out potential.
Rex Hudler ... now that's a leader to build around.
Very vocal ... very rah-rah ... very .244 average.

Fortunately, the Phillies will probably hang onto their quiet, All-American superstar Pat Burrell while unloading one of those flashy, hotdogging Latin players who acted all flashy and hotdoggy while batting his flashy .300 for 8.75 seasons and was a 30/30 hotdogger with 100 ribbie flashiness and top-10 on-base percentage hotdoggedness.

Burrell ... he's the cornerstone ... a real five-tool warhorse who'll use that dumptruck speed and his dumptruck smarts to, unlike the flashy/hotdog Abreu, stay anchored to first base and methodically work his way around the bases in a workmanlike, station-to-station manner.
So what if it takes three ground-rule doubles to score Burrell from first base ... playing it safe keeps "Wheel Burrell" healthy to live another day to bat a solid .259 with that overexaggerated follow-through.
Avoiding basepath missteps is how Pat The Bat extended his streak to 243 games without a stolen-base attempt. Burrell, who last attempted a steal on Sept. 20, 2004 vs. Florida, can hit the magical 300 mark before season's end.
Go, Pat, go!
Actually ... "stay."

That's the smart athlete in action. Pacing himself ... conserving his energy ... so that he can bat a Ron Kittle-ish .259 for the hometown fans.
Unlike Abreu, Burrell can relate to the tubby softballer, the chunky Wiffleballer, the 72-year-old on disability and any deceased American who, like Burrell, has ZERO stolen bases.
Burrell remains grounded and anchored, not all flashy and hotdoggy like those disruptive Latin players, who, oddly enough, don't speak any Latin.

So, while we'll remember some fond memories that Abreu provided, it's important to remember that he doesn't care about winning and he only plays for himself, which is why he's getting pink-slipped.
The Phillies want winners.
Real gamers ... such as Ricky Ledee.

Perhaps the best Art Vandalay/Eduardo Corocho scenario to re-visit whilst we await Adieu To Abreu is the priceless episode from late-July 2000 when the Phils shipped Rob Ducey to the Blue Jays for a player to be named later.
Ducey was batting a crisp .189 in 106 ABs at the time of the deal -- and the player received 5 days later from Toronto was of no consequence.
Dumping a nobody and getting nuthin' in return ... it happens.
That's business.

Less than two weeks after The Ducey Dump, the Phils sent Mickey Morandini to the Blue Jays ... for a player to be named later.
Two days later, Toronto shipped its PTBNL -- Rob Ducey.
So, the pinch-hitter deluxe who batted .189 in 106 ABs in Philly and who went 2 for 13 during his two weeks in Toronto had his dream come true when he was sent back to Philly.
Where he batted .217 in 46 ABs during the remainder of the season.

That's a vintage series of Phillie transactions ... understanding the value of the .197 hitter in order to create a stronger Philadelphia for all Philadelphians.
By trading Rob Ducey for Rob Ducey.
Truly visionary.
While creating a new level of trust.
And attempting to see how many Dr. Van Norstrands you can acquire for in Abreu salary dump.

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