Results tagged ‘ Larry Bowa ’

Bowa Talks Ryno, Coaching for Ryno and Rollins

bowa and rollinsLarry Bowa had some interesting things to say Wednesday when he stopped by the ballpark.

First, he explained why Ryne Sandberg will be a good manager.

Second, he talked about possibly taking a job on Sandberg’s coaching staff.

But then he talked about Jimmy Rollins, whose .666 OPS is the lowest of his 14-year career. Bowa is a big Rollins fan. The two have a good relationship. One of my favorite Rollins-Bowa stories happened in the clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park in 2004. Bowa was walking through the clubhouse past Rollins’ locker, when Rollins’ blurted, “Hey, Bo, you’ve got to pimp that walk. Drag that back leg.” Bowa didn’t miss a beat and responded, “I’d like to see you drag that back leg across home plate every once in a while.” Both men laughed.

“Jimmy still has a lot of baseball left in him,” Bowa said Wednesday. “You have to keep the volume up. Sometimes he likes to lower the volume. The volume is definitely turned back up (recently). I can see a big difference.”

Rollins is hitting .385 (15-for-39) with two doubles, one home run, two RBIs, seven walks, three stolen bases and a .991 OPS in his last 11 games. It’s a small sample size, but it’s something.

“I don’t even know if they talk,” Bowa said about Rollins and Sandberg, “but I see a difference in the way Jimmy has played lately. Ryno hasn’t said a word whether he’s talked to him, but I just watching Jimmy and see a difference in Jimmy. … “(Rollins is) lucky. You don’t play on winning teams every year. To me, the mark of a good player is – what, they are 18 games out? – you still have to post up. It’s hard to play like that, but you still have to do it. It’s easy to play when everything is going good. He’s been very lucky. Even when I was here, we were .500 or above. It’s fun to play like that. When you’re 18 games out, you have to kick it in, and it’s hard sometimes.”

Asche Making His Case

Cody AscheIf Cody Asche keeps playing like this, you’ve got to think he will be the Phillies’ Opening Day third baseman in 2014.

He went 3-for-4 with one home run and three RBIs in last night’s loss to the Nationals. Asche has hit in 10 of his last 11 games. He is hitting .375 (15-for-40) with three doubles, one triple, one home run and nine RBIs in that stretch. He is hitting .312 (24-for-77) in 22 games since beginning his big league career with one hit in his first 17 at-bats.

Two of his hits last night came against Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, making him 5-for-13 with one double and four RBIs against left-handers this season. That is impressive, although it is a small sample size. Asche had an .869 OPS against right-handers this season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley compared to a .691 OPS against left-handers, so it remains to be seen how successful he can be against left-handers over an extended period of time. But that is why Asche has started 21 games against right-handers since joining the Phillies, compared to just three starts against left-handers.

Easing in a left-handed hitter against left-handed pitchers is nothing new. Larry Bowa did the same with Chase Utley and Charlie Manuel did the same with Ryan Howard.

The Phillies faced 31 left-handed starters (19.1 percent of their games) in 2003. Utley started just two of his 36 games (5.6 percent) against them. The Phillies started 28.4 percent of their games against left-handers in 2004. He started just seven of his 57 games (12.3 percent) against them. That disparity grew a little closer in 2005 — 29.6 percent of total games started against lefties compared to 20.6 percent for Utley — before Manuel truly turned Utley loose against lefties in 2006.

Howard started just one of five games in 2004 against lefties, and just 14 of 79 (17.7 percent) against them in 2005. Manuel turned him loose during his MVP season in 2006.

“I thought he had great at-bats,” Ryne Sandberg said about Asche. “It goes a long way with his ability. I think he can hit righties or lefties. He has the ability. He should get a big boost from his game tonight.”

Rollins Passes Bowa, Talks 3,000 Hits

Is this a big deal to Jimmy Rollins?


Rollins is scheduled to play his 1,731st game at shortstop for the Phillies tonight at Marlins Park, which will pass Larry Bowa (1,730) for the franchise record. Rollins has played 1,748 games for the Phillies overall, which is third-most in franchise history. Only Mike Schmidt (2,404) and Richie Ashburn (1,794) have played more.

“It’s something that wasn’t on my radar,” Rollins said before the game against the Marlins. “Most games played by a shortstop? Obviously they keep stats for everything, but that definitely wasn’t one I paid attention to. When I’m done (playing baseball) I’ll probably think about it.”

Rollins and Bowa have maintained a close relationship over the years. Bowa managed Rollins from 2000-03 and they have remained in contact since, exchanging text messages during the season and even in the offseason. Both men share a bond as Phillies legends that played the same position. They also know how to talk a little trash. A favorite is the time in 2004 when Rollins noticed Bowa strutting through the clubhouse and Rollins told Bowa he should drag his back foot a little more.

“Pimp that walk,” Rollins said.

“Why don’t you drag that back foot across home plate every once in a while?” Bowa countered.

Rollins laughed.

For a long time Bowa said Rollins had a ways to go before he could be considered the greatest shortstop in Phillies history.

Bowa came around a few years ago.

“I wasn’t a great player. I was a good player,” Bowa said in 2008. “Jimmy is a great player. Yeah, I think he’s a great player.”

Asked what motivates him these days, Rollins said, “I want to work.”

He said he still would like to be remembered as one of the best shortstops to play the game, but he needs to pile up more numbers to enter that conversation. Rollins needs 22 hits to reach 2,000 for his career. He needs 213 hits to catch Bowa, which Rollins said has been a goal.

Rollins should accomplish both those feats, but what comes after that? How about 3,000 hits? It is not impossible, although it is a long shot. Rollins is on pace for 157 hits this season. He has averaged 157.8 hits per season the previous three seasons in which he has had 600 or more plate appearances, while also figuring in this season’s current pace.

If Rollins stays healthy, stays on the field and maintains that 157-hit pace he could reach 3,000 hits in 2019 when he is 40.

“Is it possible? Yeah,” Rollins said. “If I play every day and bang out. It depends how long you play. If you’re around long enough anything is possible.”

Is it motivation for him?

“Two thousand is right now,” he said. “Let me get there first.”

Welcome to Atlanta

Welcome to Turner Field …

Here is tonight’s lineup vs. Atlanta:

  1. Shane Victorino, CF
  2. Placido Polanco, 3B
  3. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Ben Francisco, RF
  6. Raul Ibanez, LF
  7. Carlos Ruiz, C
  8. Wilson Valdez, 2B
  9. Cliff Lee, P


Valdez went 4 for 4 with three runs scored in yesterday’s 11-0 victory over the Mets. He is the first No. 8 hitter to have four or more hits and score three or more runs for the Phillies since Steve Lake on June 30, 1991, against the Mets. Valdez also had three RBIs yesterday. He is the first No. 8 hitter to have four or more hits, score three or more runs nad have three or more RBIs since Larry Bowa on June 22, 1977 vs. Cincinnati. … The Phillies caught a break when Dennys Reyes failed his physical over the winter. The Phillies pulled back on a contract agreement, and he later signed for $900,000 with the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox just designated him for assignment.


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A Look Back at the Sandberg Trade

sandberg phillies.jpgThe Phillies just announced they have hired Ryne Sandberg as Triple-A Lehigh Valley manager.

I’m sure you know the Phillies traded Sandberg and Larry Bowa to the Cubs in January 1982 for Ivan DeJesus. It’s considered one of the worst trades in franchise history, but it might not even be the worst trade the Phillies made with the Cubs. They also sent Grover Cleveland Alexander and Ferguson Jenkins to the Cubs in regrettable trades.

I wrote about the Sandberg fiasco in my Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly.”

Here’s an excerpt:

We have to have Sandberg to make this trade.

You have to have him?

Yeah, we have to have him.

Well, OK then.

The Phillies traded Ryne Sandberg to the Chicago Cubs on January 27, 1982, not because they wanted to trade him, but because they wanted to trade Larry Bowa. They just needed to include Sandberg to make it happen. It turned out to be one of the worst trades in history. The Phillies got Ivan DeJesus. The Cubs got Bowa and Sandberg, a Hall of Fame second baseman.

Bowa had become embroiled in a bitter contract dispute with the new Phillies president Bill Giles. Bowa, who had just turned 36, wanted the three-year contract extension that owner Ruly Carpenter had promised him before he had sold the team. Giles had no plans to sign an aging shortstop to a contract extension, especially because the Phillies had top prospect Julio Franco coming through their farm system. So Bowa called Giles a liar. He said the organization had no class.


Phillies Deny Stealing Signs (Again)

mick.JPGIt seems every year somebody accuses the Phillies of stealing signs, doesn’t it?

“Every year,” Shane Victorino said. “Every year we’re accused of cheating somehow.”

The latest accusation: The Rockies complained to Major League Baseball that Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer used binoculars from the visitor’s bullpen in center field Monday to help relay signs to Phillies hitters.

MLB issued the Phillies a warning.

“Absolutely no,” Charlie Manuel said of the accusations. “Absolutely (bleeping) no. Absolutely not.”

Rockies manager Jim Tracy strongly disagreed.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s out of line,” he said. “It’s one thing in my opinion to go out and play a club as tough as you can possibly play it within the framework of the way they’ve structured things to be done. And cheating, until you get caught, nobody says that you don’t explore something like that. But if you’re cheating and you get caught, you know what? Then you’d better do something about it. That’s my reaction to that.”

A report said the Mets might have complained about the Phillies stealing signs earlier this season, but the Phillies and MLB are unaware of it. But the Mets have suspected the Phillies of stealing signs for some time. They formally complained to MLB in 2007, saying they use a camera in center field to help relay signs to hitters at the plate.

Manuel got fired up when the Mets were mentioned.

“Somebody ought to check on the Mets if they did (complain) because their … home record is out of this world and they’re losing on the road,” Manuel said. “That’s a good indication sometimes, if you want to know about signs and (stuff). When I see somebody is 17-2 at home and 4-12 on the road I kind of get concerned about that. That kind of crosses my mind.”

The Mets are 14-7 at home and 4-8 on the road.

So why do so many teams think the Phillies are stealing signs? Former Phillies manager Larry Bowa, who coaches third base for the Los Angeles Dodgers, said during the 2009 World Series that teams suspect the Phillies of stealing signs at Citizens Bank Park using a center field camera.

“Because we beat them,” Manuel said. “That’s why. What the hell? Keep crying. I’m sure if they can steal signs they’ll steal them. And believe we will, too, if we can get them. Yeah, we will. Legally. If you’re dumb enough to let us get them then that’s your fault. That’s been in the game for a long time.”


Credit to @phylan for the screen grab.

The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Back to Business

phillies jays scrum.jpgThe second half is upon us.

Pedro Martinez is in the fold. Roy Halladay is not.

But like the Shermanator said, “Confidence is high. I repeat: confidence is high.” Not long ago the Phillies lost 14 of 18 games and their season appeared to be spiraling into the ground. Then they went 9-1 at home to take a four-game lead over the Marlins (it’s the second largest lead of any division leader at the break).

Phillies fans consider a third consecutive National League East championship a fait accompli, which is a little scary when you think about it (remember the ’07 and ’08 Mets).

Fans have reasons to be optimistic. The Phillies have the best offense in the National League, and that is with Jimmy Rollins struggling most of the first half and Raul Ibanez missing much of June and July with an injury. They also have the best defense in the National League.

But pitching remains a problem, which could become a bigger issue in October. Phillies starters have a 4.98 ERA, which ranks 14th in the league. Cole Hamels has a 4.87 ERA and has pitched more than six innings just four times this season. Brad Lidge has a 7.03 ERA, and has a 6.00 ERA since he returned from the 15-day disabled list in June. Jamie Moyer has a 5.99 ERA. Those are some red flags, which makes it even more crucial the Phillies improve their pitching before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Halladay said this week in St. Louis he considers his chances to be traded at 50-50. If that is the case, his chances of going to the Phillies are less because so many teams are interested in him. But Ken Rosenthal said the Phillies are a favorite because he doesn’t think the Angels and Cardinals have enough in their systems to get him. The Phillies do.

Here are a few things to consider when talking about Halladay:

  • Halladay’s current contract is not an issue. One Phillies source said recently, “He isn’t making anything.” Halladay is making $14.25 million this year and $15.75 million next year. In comparison, Brett Myers is making $12 million this season. Halladay is a bargain at that price, and because the Phillies have been selling out the Bank regulary they can afford it. So, yes, the Phillies can afford to pick up Halladay’s contract. The issue with Halladay is going to be prospects. Who does the Blue Jays want, and who are the Phillies willing to give up? The Phillies are in better shape than most teams, which does put them at the top of the pack.
  • Halladay has not indicated he needs a contract extension to accept a trade. He said he has made plenty of money in his career. He wants to win.
  • Halladay sounds like he is ready to go to any winner, including Philadelphia. This isn’t a Jake Peavy situation.
  • I’m getting a lot of Halladay and Vernon Wells questions. Any inclusion of Wells is a deal killer for the Phillies (and most every other team out there). And I have not heard anywhere the Blue Jays insist on including Wells in any talks. If the Blue Jays suddenly insist on Wells in any deal, the Phillies won’t be getting Halladay. But like I said, I have not heard that to be the case. At all. So relax.


I was looking for Halladay/Phillies pictures and came upon this one from Spring Training 2003. Halladay hit Jim Thome with a pitch and Larry Bowa sparked a bench-clearing brawl when Halladay came to bat later in the game. Good times.


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It's A Big Series, But It's June

mets slide.jpgIt’s June.

No matter what happens this week between the Phillies and Mets at Citi Field, just remember it’s only June.

The Phillies could sweep the Mets to take a six-game lead in the National League East, but it does not guarantee anything.

If the Phillies can overcome a seven-game deficit with 17 games to play in 2007, the Mets certainly can overcome a six-game deficit with more than 100 games to play. And if the Mets sweep the Phillies, it doesn’t mean the Phillies are in big trouble. The sky is not falling. It just means the Phillies played a bad series against a division rival in June.

You get the idea.

That is not to say the Phillies won’t be looking pretty good or feeling pretty good if they take 2 of 3 from the Mets this week. They will. And they should. It always feels good to win a series against a division rival, especially when that division rival is the Mets. But knowing the players in the clubhouse, they won’t be getting too high or too low this week. A lot can happen in 100 games.

Or just 17.


Being a manager is more than just making out lineups and making pitching changes. It’s managing 25 different personalities in the clubhouse.

Charlie Manuel has had a knack for handling those personalities over the years. Why do I say this? Because you very rarely hear a player gripe about Manuel in the clubhouse. I heard that frequently during Larry Bowa‘s final two seasons. I hear it coming from other clubhouses, too. But Manuel seems to have the right touch. When to sit a player. When to stick with a player. That stuff plays up big in a clubhouse, where manager, coaches and teammates are together seven-plus weeks in Spring Training and over the course of a six-month season.


It is easy to make a case for Raul Ibanez and Chase Utley to be National League All-Star starters.

Ibanez leads NL outfielders in home runs (19), RBIs (54), runs (46), hits (72) and slugging percentage (.676). He ranks fourth in hitting (.329), fifth in doubles (15) and seventh in on-base percentage (.386). Utley leads NL second basemen in runs (39), home runs (12), walks (37), on-base percentage (.438) and slugging percentage (.548). He is third in RBis (38), fourth in hitting (.296), and fifth in hits (55) and doubles (11).

But Jimmy Rollins, the NL’s leading vote getter at shortstop, is another matter. He ranks 12th out of 12 qualifying players in hitting (.222) and on-base percentage (.261) and 10th in slugging percentage (.322). He ranks second from the top in runs (34), third in doubles (13), sixth in hits (53), eighth in home runs (3) and ninth in RBIs (18).

What is interesting is that Rollins is getting some of his best fan support during one of his worst first-halves. He hasn’t been to the All-Star Game since 2005. Edgar Renteria, David Eckstein and Jose Reyes went in 2006. Reyes and J.J. Hardy went in 2007. Hanley Ramirez, Cristian Guzman and Miguel Tejada went in 2008. Rollins could have gone in 2006 and 2007 (he had no shot last season after suffering an ankle injury in April), but never went. Now in a season he is struggling, he might get to start. Go figure.


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Schmidt: '08 Phils Better than '80 Phils

mike schmidt.jpgMike Schmidt
spoke to reporters for nearly 20 minutes this morning, sitting at a picnic bench outside the batting cages at Bright House Field.

He talked about Alex Rodriguez and steroids. He offered his opinions on the Phillies defending their World Series championship in 2009.

But he also answered this question: In a seven-game series, who would win: the 2008 Phillies or the 1980 Phillies?

“That’s not a good question,” Schmidt said. “Probably these guys. Bigger, stronger, faster. Yeah, no doubt in my mind.”

He paused.

“It would go seven games,” he said. “It would probably turn on a Schmidt error at third base. (Larry) Bowa picks it up, throws to first and Bruce Froemming calls him safe. And the ’08 team wins in a controversial play that’s talked about for years.”

Sounds familiar.