I was watching the “Phillies On Deck” on Sunday and realized something.
What does that mean?
The Phillies have a ton of pitching, a ton of confidence, and a good chance to win.
You think that ability has everything to do with sport.
Then I remembered the story of Billy Beane, a guy with a ton of talent, but not much baseball sense on the field of play.
From the book,”Moneyball,” which I read four months ago or more:
The Mets held the first overall pick in the 1980 draft, and so Billy was theirs for the taking. World was that the Mets had narrowed their short list to two players, Billy and a Los Angeles high school player named Darryl Strawberry. Word was that a Mets official preferred Billy to Strawberry. (He was not alone).
Speaking of Beane, Roger Jongwaard said: “He had the size, the speed, the arm, the whole package. He could play the other sports. He was a true athlete.”
What happened? Strawberry was taken first overall, in part slighting Beane because he had been approached to attend Stanford and play football as the successor to John Elway.
Beane, slipped all the way to the second round, twenty-third overall pick.
Beane signed with the Mets.
After a few years in the minors, the Mets felt Billy was ready for “The Show.”
“With Strawberry now a fixture in the Mets’ right field, the talk in the minors was that Billy was being groomed to replace George Foster in left, and Lenny (Dykstra) was supposed to replace Mookie Wilson in center.”
Dykstra was half of Billy’s size, and had a fraction of Billy’s promise. But Dykstra had some else: blind confidence.
Dykstra bragged that he would that he would hit that “big dumb ass out there on the hill.”
It was Steve Carlton. Billy knew too well.
Billy never made with the Mets and was traded to the Minnesota Twins, where he got hurt, then made a starter. Against Ron Guidry, Billy went five for five off Guidy, with a home run.
It didn’t last and Beane couldn’t take the day to day on the baseball field.
He eventually became a scout, then General Manager of the Oakland A’s, where he a magical year using a specific formula.
Fast forward to today, and to any team.
Old pro Juan Pierre uses hard work all through his career. To compare him to Dykstra, especially now, would be unfair.
Brown, on paper, has more talent than Pierre.
Brown has been called a five-tool player, but he can not catch the ball in left field.
But Pierre, the old veteran, has speed and an ability to get on base.
Juan is in the top ten of hitting in the National League.
When you look at small ball, Juan Pierre’s picture is part of the story. That is why he is on the team.
What does all of this mean to the Phillies?
That Joe Blanton believes he is as good as the Phillies four starters.
He has believe that he has the ability to spot start, taking a page from Roy Halladay’s work out program in his training regimin.
He might never escape potential, just like Beane.
But his body is worn.
Somehow, some way, the Phillies will figure winning out again.
Pitching and defense will have to carry them until Utley and/or Howard come back.
I hope it is not too late.