A Change Of Personality

April 03, 1994

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 [97] 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....

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PHOTOJOHN IACONOWild Thing is replaced by the 37-year-old Jones—no Sure Thing.

THE LINEUP

CF

Lenny Dykstra

Best leadoff man in baseball, dude

2B

Mickey Morandini

Platoon with Mariano Duncan is above average

1B

Ricky Jordan

This Jordan can hit; unlike Kruk, he never walks

3B

Dave Hollins

Big Buffalo Bill fan; if only Bills were as intense

C

Darren Daulton

Best catcher in baseball the last two years

RF

Jim Eisenreich

Rookie Tom Marsh will get a chance here, too

LF

Milt Thompson

Platoon with Pete Incaviglia highly productive

SS

Kevin Stocker

Having him for entire season a huge plus

Ace

Curt Schilling

Won 30 in '92-93, most by a Phillie in 10 years

Closer

Doug Jones

No longer a top save man; NL hit .286 against him

INSTANT ANALYST

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

1993

43

Bill Caudill, Mariners

1984

36

Lee Smith, Cubs

1987

36

Jeff Reardon, Expos

1986

35

John Franco, Reds

1989

32

Most Saves, Then Free Agent

Bruce Sutter, Cards

1984

45

Mark Davis, Padres

1989

44

Randy Myers, Padres

1992

38

Dave Righetti, Yanks

1990

36

Tom Henke, Blue Jays

1992

34

PREDICTED FINISH: THIRD

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)