Last year the Phillies were the hottest team in baseball from August 11 on. They won 30 games, lost 14 and actually succeeded in getting above .500 for the season. Such a performance naturally engenders exuberance but, unfortunately, both the Phillie performance and records may be misleading. For one thing, many of the players suddenly had good years, a miracle not likely to repeat itself. For another, the Phillies' record (even their closing rush) was founded on a gross mistreatment of the expansion teams (Houston and New York), which they whipped 31 games to five. And finally, for this season and those others to come, the Phillies themselves must start producing ballplayers.
Last year's success was built almost entirely on players whom General Manager John Quinn obtained in trades or by the draft. From the farm system there were only four players who contributed significantly to the team's success. Quinn had been forced to trade. When he arrived four years ago, most of the 1950 Whiz Kids were still around, and the farm was producing nothing but an occasional pitcher, mostly because Owner Bob Carpenter is bugs about pitching, and nobody wanted to argue with him. Instead, the Phils stood pat, hot after winning the pennant. The Whiz Kids became Was Kids and no replacements were being developed. Now the Philadelphia farm system has started to show signs of life. The organization has developed greater spirit and cohesiveness. The able Gene Martin has once again been given full charge of both scouting and the farm teams. And perhaps most important, the Phillies are signing young players who can hit as well as those who can throw. "The farm system is definitely improving," says Manager Gene Mauch. "They're not being so selective. It used to be they were only signing the kids they felt certain would make the majors. Now they're taking a few more chances." The farm produce isn't ready for 1963, though. Quinn has been the best trader in the major leagues, but in the well-balanced National League seventh place is still about as high as you can get with somebody else's players.
There were only two major league teams in 1962 with .300-hitting outfields. The Giants had one, the Phillies the other (when 27-year-old Don Demeter wasn't playing third base). This season Demeter will be able to play full time in right alongside John Callison (24) and Tony Gonzalez (26). All three youthful strongmen hit at least 20 home runs, and Demeter—-the only right-hander in the group—led the team in both homers (29) and RBIs (107). Roy Sievers spent three months last season taking American League balls that were National League strikes before he started swinging "at anything even close" and wound up with a respectable 21 home runs, 80 RBIs. The middle of the infield (Bobby Wine or Ruben Amaro at short and Tony Taylor at second) is strictly weak stick at bat. Don Hoak could help the Phillies' attack immeasurably, but after his .241 in Pittsburgh last season no one is sure. One bright promise: Clay Dalrymple became a good-hitting catcher (.276) with occasional power and a very good eye (70 walks, 32 strikeouts last year).
At 24, Art Mahaffey is a complete pitcher, the only one the Phillies have. He was 19-14 last year and would have won 20 except, says Manager Gene Mauch, "He was trying for his 20th win before he got his 18th." Jack Hamilton, also 24, was 9-12 with a ghastly 5.09 ERA as a rookie. He led the league in wild pitches (22) and bases on balls (107) in a modest 182 innings. Chris Short (25), a left-hander, has an improved changeup to go with his fast ball and curve. Another young lefty, Dennis Bennett (23), finished the season strong. But he was injured this winter in a car crash in Puerto Rico and probably won't be ready for real action until midseason. The most impressive Philadelphia pitcher this spring was Paul Brown (21), a hepatitis victim the past season. Old Cal McLish is in top shape, but at 37 he can do no more than spot-start. Rookie Marcelino Lopez and newcomers Ryne Duren and Johnny Klippstein can start and relieve. But the real relief is in the hands of Jack Baldschun, a premier short reliever who won 12 games, saved 11 others and had a 2.95 ERA in 67 appearances last season.
Callison, Gonzalez and Demeter form as good a defensive outfield as there is. The desperate moves at third base (18 men have played there since Mauch arrived in 1960) are over now that Hoak is in town. Taylor came back after a couple of bad seasons to play well at second last year. It makes no difference to him whether Wine or Amaro is at short. They are virtually equal in ability. First base is the weakest spot even though smooth-fielding Frank Torre picks up Sievers in the late innings. Dalrympie has improved a lot behind the plate.