Thursday, July 29, 2004

Tyler Houston's Ghost

Salisbury today on "an almost annual phenomenon. Disenchantment in the clubhouse.":

This whole drama is getting ridiculous. Every spring, the players say they won't let Bowa's hiss and vinegar bother them, then every season they do. Why they can't accept him for what he is and tune him out -- for the most part, they are all richer and have more job security than he does -- remains a mystery.

The players always seem to be looking for Bowa to make a funny face and say something critical. The manager often obliges and the whole thing becomes a cyclical distraction that a team in a so-called pennant race doesn't need. Pennant race? Aren't they supposed to be fun and exciting? These Phils often approach the game as if it's drudgery, and shame on them for that.

Bowa is not a bad person or a bad baseball man. He works hard and he loves the Phillies organization. But, he is clearly in some of the players' heads (we don't think he can help it) to the point that they are obsessing on it.

Maybe that's part of the reason -- we'll give you injuries, but only to a point -- they can't put together a winning streak.

Eventually, maybe in the coming days, maybe over the winter, Wade is going to reach the point where he realizes there's little meshing of personalities here, and decides it's easier to remove one person than a dozen or so.

That's why Bowa could be in trouble right now. The Phils have 61 games left, plenty of time to save the season, especially in the mediocre National League East. Management spent $93 million putting this team together. It won't waste a chance at winning a very winnable division because -- regardless of whose fault it is - the players aren't seeing eye-to-eye with the manager.

Ed Wade has the power to fire Larry Bowa. Believe that.

Will he? We're not sure. But we'd bet he's thinking about it.

Hofmann, a little more supportive of the manager:

We have been here before, of course -- more than once, frankly. The most famous time was last year, after Bowa blew up at his team one August afternoon in Montreal during an epic downspiral. It was a gamble -- the players could have taken ownership of the situation or they could have folded, with rather negative consequences for the manager's long-term employment prospects. But it paid off for Bowa -- the team started winning again, and competed for a wild-card playoff berth until the final week of the season.

That's the key point here, and always has been. Specifically: that even if there are players who don't like the atmosphere surrounding the team -- and there are -- there is no evidence that Bowa is an impediment to winning.

And now, well, the theory will be tested again.

In a sense, Bowa is right: The players should be embarrassed. They're being paid an awful lot of scratch, and they're not performing. But this is a theme common to every single season Bowa has managed in Philadelphia. If he were a guy with a winning track record, hey, more power to him. But we're talking about someone who's 24 games under .500 as a manager. Who has no clue how to handle his pitching staff. Who has shown no ability to motivate players to achieve more, and not less. Who is neither liked nor, more importantly, respected in the clubhouse.

Tell me again why you'd want someone with that profile managing your team?

The season isn't yet lost. There are two months left, and the Phillies are just two-and-a-half back in a weak division. Each passing hour reduces the likelihood of landing an impact player by the trade deadline. But imagine the potential effect in the clubhouse of replacing Bowa, who must be greatly perceived there as an impediment, and not a conduit, to winning.


At July 29, 2004 at 1:30 PM, Blogger Matt said...

That's what bugs me about this whole mess. I couldn't care less what Bowa's attitude is. My problem with him is that he doesn't know what he's doing. No one in the local media seems to want to talk about this, though.

At July 29, 2004 at 1:49 PM, Blogger Tom G. said...

Over at Citizen's Report I just commented that it isn't his lineups or in-game moves that bother me because every teams fans get upset at some of those moves. I think it IS his attitude that is a problem.

I think the Marlins series has really started to get people thinking hard about Bowa. Surfing around the collection of Phillies slanted/related blogs shows that a lot of people are beginning to find themselves on the same page as everyone else: Bowa is the biggest problem this team has.

At July 29, 2004 at 1:57 PM, Blogger Tom said...

8-0 Fish, top of the fourth. Alex Gonzalez's salami caps a seven-run third off Paul Abbott, the ultimate retread.


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