Thursday, November 20, 2008

Two Baseball-related items

First: I encourage all to read Michael Weinreb's brief piece for Page 2 on Bill Veeck, truly one of the most influential and important persons not only to baseball but modern sport as a whole. I also encourage anyone interested to follow up on Veeck and learn what you can.

Veeck deserves credit for the single best summation as to why some teams play better than others despite any economic advantages or disadvantages (kinda my thing, in case that was in question): "It isn't the high price of stars that is expensive; it's the high price of mediocrity."

Second (and more directly related to baseball): This could be the number one reason the Phillies might not repeat next season- Chase Utley may be out until June, following hip surgery.

It's very easy to point to Jimmy Rollins, the loudmouthed shortstop and former MVP, or Ryan Howard, the slugging first baseman and former MVP, or Cole Hamels, the ace who led the team to the promised land as the World Series MVP, as keys to the Phillies success. But if you really examine the team, there is only one player who can qualify as their best: Utley. Utley has posted a career .901 OPS, a great number at any position, but out of this world at 2b, where he also provides great defense. In addition, he instantly makes that whole lineup better. Rollins, while a very good player, is not a scary bat. Howard, though possibly the strongest man in the majors, can be pitched around (try a curveball). Utley is a complete threat. If the Mets retool (like they should and would were they run with any amount of competance), it will be tough to keep pace without Utley.

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