Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Hi, Schmitty. Bye, Jose

The Phillies made a managerial announcement yesterday, but it wasn't the one I was hoping for. No, Larry Bowa will still be in charge when the Phillies christen Citizens Bank Park; the announcement was of the hiring of the team's greatest player, Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, as manager of the single-A Clearwater Phillies.

A Shallow Center reader asked, tongue in cheek, whether the news means Bowa should dust off and polish his resume. The answer is no, of course, at least not right away; Schmidt has never managed before, and is taking the Clearwater job to see if he has any interest in doing this long-term. One only hopes that he has more success with Clearwater's players than he had this year with Pat Burrell, whom he has casually tutored for a couple of seasons.

The Daily News's Bill Conlin, a part-time resident of the Clearwater area and a longtime Phils chronicler, checks in with a superb column that gets inside Schmidt's head and tries to explain why he'd want what on the surface appears to be such an awful job. It's a beautifully written, evocative piece -- one of Conlin's best efforts in recent years.

In Phillies news that surprised absolutely no one, the team gave Jose Mesa and Mike Williams their walking papers. Mesa set a team record for career saves in this three years with Philadelphia, which tells you more about the quality of previous teams than about his ability. Shaky even in his best times with the club, he was a complete disaster this season; just running in from the bullpen elicited punishing abuse from Veterans Stadium crowds as the year wore down. Williams wasn't worth the paperwork he caused when the Phils traded for him over the summer. And third-string catcher Kelly Stinnett declined his part of the mutual option his contract included, opting instead for free agency. Sticking around for another year, though, will be Rheal Cormier, who had a career year after being reunited with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan.


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