This spring the Phillies didn't look or laugh like the Phillies who let the good times roll all the way to the National League pennant last year. The agitator, Mitch Williams, was gone to the Astros. The stall ace, Terry Mulholland, was gone to the Yankees. The clown prince of line-drive hitters, John Kruk, was gone from the lineup until May, undergoing radiation treatment for testicular cancer. And team leader Darren Daulton's focus seemed gone at times, his spring disrupted by the pressures of a well-publicized divorce. None of this is good news for the Phillies.
Last year they were at their best when a starter (often Mulholland) would pitch seven strong innings, Kruk would get a big hit, Williams would almost blow the lead in the ninth, and the Phillies would win anyway, after which Kruk would say something like, "I was going to kill Mitch, but they said I couldn't—it's illegal." It was a team of destiny, a marvelous composite of character, camaraderie, chicanery and comebacks; and it was an injury-free team that scored more runs (877) than any other NL team in 40 years.
"There will never be another team with that chemistry," says pitcher Larry Andersen. "Even if we had the same players back, it couldn't be the same because of the novelty. But we can win as many or more games  as last year."
Sorry, but a team can ride destiny only so long. In spring training no pitcher emerged who looked capable of replacing Williams's 43 saves or Mulholland's 190 innings. There's no replacing Kruk's .316 average and 111 walks, his on-field presence or his irreverent humor, and there's no telling if Daulton can be the emotional rock he was last season.
"They might fall fast," says one NL East pitcher. The Phillies' rallying cry last season was "No Fear!" but Kruk's cancer scared the hell out of them. This was a team that would say or do anything—Williams being the central figure in virtually ever) senseless or sensational moment—yet the events of the last six months have mellowed these guys.
Even 16-game winner Curt Schilling, a free spirit, has toned down alter he and Williams sniped at each other through the media last winter. While the '93 Phillies were essentially complaint free, the '94 edition was griping before it broke camp. First baseman Ricky Jordan said he wouldn't be content this year with 159 at bats (Kruk's absence will assuage him temporarily). Outfielder Pete Incaviglia said he was unhappy that he didn't play more in the '93 World Series. Outfielder Milt Thompson, who needs 375 plate appearances this year to guarantee his '95 contract for $1.2 million, wasn't thrilled about the prospect of diminished playing time.
Whereas the '93 Phillies were comfortable in their roles, this lineup is not so well defined—especially the pitching staff. Who will be the closer? Aging Doug Jones, who came from Houston in the Williams trade, or free-agent pickup Norm Charlton, who had surgery on his left elbow last August and won't be able to pitch at least until May. And which one of three young arms—Tyler Green, Jeff Juden or Bobby Munoz—will secure the fifth starting job? It's safe to say only that the Phillies opened spring training with the tallest pitching staff in creation: 11 pitchers at least 6'4" tall, including six who are 6'6" or taller.
And the bigger they are....
Best leadoff man in baseball, dude
Platoon with Mariano Duncan is above average
This Jordan can hit; unlike Kruk, he never walks
Big Buffalo Bill fan; if only Bills were as intense
Best catcher in baseball the last two years
Rookie Tom Marsh will get a chance here, too
Platoon with Pete Incaviglia highly productive
Having him for entire season a huge plus
Won 30 in '92-93, most by a Phillie in 10 years
No longer a top save man; NL hit .286 against him
The trade of Phillie closer Mitch Williams to the Astros on Dec. 2 made history: Although pitchers with as many saves as Williams had last year (43) had changed teams as free agents, none had ever been traded the following season. Alltime leaders in each category:
Most Saves, Then Traded
Mitch Williams, Phils
Bill Caudill, Mariners
Lee Smith, Cubs
Jeff Reardon, Expos
John Franco, Reds
Most Saves, Then Free Agent
Bruce Sutter, Cards
Mark Davis, Padres
Randy Myers, Padres
Dave Righetti, Yanks
Tom Henke, Blue Jays
PREDICTED FINISH: THIRD