A 6-4 victory over Cleveland earlier today improved Philadelphia’s Grapefruit League mark to a lousy 7-12, and while pitcher Brett Myers professed yesterday, “I don’t even know what spring training is all about”, the current and former Phillies skippers were quick to take exception. From the Philadelphia Daily News’ David Murphy (link lifted from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :
“I’ve been in this game 46 years,” Charlie Manuel said. “How long has Myers been in it?”
Do spring results serve as any type of barometer for the regular season?
And if the Phillies fail to heed Manuel’s warning, are they headed for a fifth straight losing April?
People were asking Dallas Green the same questions 24 years ago. At the time, the former Phillies manager and current senior adviser was in his third year as general manager of the Cubs. Chicago managed to put together a horrendous spring that included two intrasquad brawls, the release of Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins and a 7-20 record that was the worst in the major leagues.
But when they returned to Illinois, something changed. The Cubs went 12-8 in April, finished the regular season 96-65, and won two games in the National League Championship Series before falling to San Diego in Game 5.
“Historically, if you go through all of spring trainings, there are teams that win spring-training games down here and as soon as they go north, the switch goes off and they can’t win a game,” Green said. “And vice versa. Nothing happens down here, and then all of a sudden you go north and bang, everything falls into place and guys start playing. There’s no rhyme or reason for it.”
But, Green says, teams like the ’84 Cubs are generally the exception, and not the norm.
“I do agree with Charlie 1,000 percent,” he said. “You can’t just turn the switch on the 30th or the 31st and say, ‘OK, now we’re going to be a good baseball team.’ “
Nothing could have been more ominous for Cole Hamels than his performance late last March in the Phillies’ second-to-last spring training game. In a 6-5 loss to the Red Sox, the lefthander gave up four home runs and took the loss, shooting his already-ugly ERA up to 6.10.
“Every day last year I was in the video room trying to figure out what I was doing wrong,” Hamels said.
Yet 5 days later, Hamels was on the mound against Atlanta, striking out eight and allowing no runs in a spectacular seven-inning debut.
“These guys are switch guys, man,” Myers said. “The big show starts happening, these guys come to play.”