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Phillies at a glance

By BOB PUTNAM

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 5, 1999


1998 RECORD: 75-87, 3rd in NL East.

1998 REVIEW: Playing in the highly competitive NL East, the Phillies started strong then faded in the last two months. They played well in tight situations, compiling a 52-48 record in games decided by a run.

MANAGER: Terry Francona (143-181).

WHO’S NEW: RHP Jeff Brantley (trade/Cardinals), OF Rob Ducey (FA/Mariners), LF Ron Gant (trade/Cardinals), OF David Miller (Rule 5 draft/Indians), RHP Cliff Politte (trade/Cardinals), LHP Jim Poole (FA/Indians), C Tom Prince (FA/Dodgers), RHP Chad Ogea (trade/Indians), LHP Paul Spoljaric (trade/Mariners).

WHO’S GONE: RHP Ricky Bottalico (trade/Cardinals), C Albert Castillo (Rule 5 draft/Cards), RHP Mark Leiter (trade/Mariners), 2B Mark Lewis (FA/Reds), C Mark Parent (FA), RHP Mark Portugal (FA/Red Sox), Jerry Spradlin (trade/Indians), RHP Garrett Stephenson (trade/Cards).

FLASHY PHENOMS: Pat Burrell, the No.1 overall pick last season, is a power hitter from Miami who won the 1998 Golden Spikes Award as the top amateur player in the U.S. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound right-hander started his career at Class A Clearwater. In 37 games, he batted .303 with seven home runs and 30 RBI. Burrell most likely will spend two more years in the minors. LHP Randy Wolf could be called up this season.

THE SURE THINGS: Schilling will be the workhorse of the staff. Last season, he threw a league-leading 269 innings and was the leader in strikeouts per inning. Scott Rolen is the Phillies’ first Gold Glove winner since Mike Schmidt in ‘86. Rolen also can produce on offense. He had 31 home runs, 45 doubles and 110 RBI in ‘98.

THE QUESTION MARKS: Will Ron Gant be a steady influence in the clubhouse? Will he stay healthy enough to produce the offensive power the team desperately needs? Will Marlon Anderson, a superstar in the making who thrived in Class AAA last season, produce in the lineup and fill the gap at second base? Will Brantley’s surgically repaired shoulder be ready for relief work? Will Schilling be around long enough to help?

A FINAL WORD: The Phillies are banking on the veterans they brought in to fill spots, provide depth and bring leadership for their young, improved squad. But the plan is to be patient and allow the prospects to develop.

 

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