Bravo / Encore
Last week's deal of Jim Thome was exciting, a revelation not to be overlooked in the annals of Phillies offseasons. It brings to town a type-A personality and everyday break-a-legger, something the team has been short on the last few years. Rowand has already said all the right things, already mentioning the same walls Mr. Lofton didn't go anywhere near, including comparing the Cit to a cathedral, while phans across the Delaware Valley probably snuck in a quick prayer session between Thanksgiving and this week's latest football farce. Amen.
But we knew all that already, right? Well, perhaps, in reading between the lines, as we all are wont to do -- especially in November, right? -- it could realistically be reasoned that two more very important items have revealed themselves.
One: Pat Gillick is a pro GM. Granted, that's not much of a stretch, so maybe we should amend that and say, Pat Gillick is a pro GM now and capable setting an agenda and following it. case in point: the quest to deal Thome apparently started through Cleveland, with Patty G establishing the bidding at "outfielder Coco Crisp, top pitching prospect Charles Lofgren, and another prospect." Sound familiar? It's exactly the deal Gillick got from the White Sox, a starting CF and two stud minor league arms. Whatever charm, charisma, or acumen that Gillick has, it served him well as he somehow dealt from strength while actually existing in weakness. However he did it, he went to Cleveland, was heard, and then peddled his papers elsewhere, appealing to Sox GM Kenny Williams' love of aging stars. Our new GM is not at the dinner table, he's more accurately cooking, serving, and enjoying the spread. Let's eat.
Two: Going more out on a limb, it seems almost a lock that, should there be one more deal this offseason, it will absolutely not involve Pat Burrell. Besides being the only right-handed power bat in the lineup and all that tactical stuff we already have been over, Burrell is a guy the team has already lived and died with over the past few seasons. Somewhere in the front office, the suits probably think that should this team make the playoffs and hit its stride, they would want Burrell to be a part of that story. In fact, on the Rowand trade, Burrell was part of that story too, quoted as saying "This town will go crazy for this guy. He'll run through anything. He'll be great here, tremendous. He may be the next Lenny Dykstra here." OK, so out of all the players on the team, we have Burrell's opinion, which involves a well-loved CF from yesteryear. Remember, Dave Montgomery's e-mail after the season which stressed the future and named a few players thought to be the embodiment of that future? In much the same way, CL maintains that Burrell's presence in this story says the same about his future here. Sure, Burrell and Rowand are apparently friends of years, but what does it say about this year's home run derby champ that his thoughts this off-season are nowhere to be found? Burrell, for all his flaws, is much closer to the heart of this team than many people probably realize. A laid-back California boy who is frequently spotted out at the city bars and is reputed to be fairly approachable, he represents both the promise of this team these last few years along with its incredible struggles. CL would not be surprised to find out that Pat has been written into the opening day line-up already. In ink.
Meanwhile, Bobby has been invisible; outside the rumor mill, of course. That, along with his fear of walls, probably means he's just not a Gillick guy. I expect he'll be moved by Opening Day.