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In This Corner - December 21, 2005

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It's been cold and lonely on the Corner, I realize this, but somehow I ended up working as hard in grad school getting paid nothing than I did while getting paid.

Oh well, on to some random thoughts here while trying to figure out what the hell is the deal with the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. There's a time-honored rule of girl bands that groups like the Spice Girls and Dixie Chicks observed: the best singer is invariably the worst looking one of the band and that the other women in the band are supposed to take up the slack in the eye candy department while still singing a fair amount. On the other hand, the Pussycat Dolls have six members and only one of them sings and she's the best looking woman in the group. As a business school student, this model for socialism is enough to make my head explode.

I'm starting to hear more conversations trying to attribute Bobby Abreu's power outage in the 2nd half of the season to his participation in the Home Run Derby. I thought we addressed this in the summer but the short answer is no, he started struggling a few weeks before the all-star break. And by the way, while I could buy into the idea that Abreu, in a quest for home runs, started to not hit for average as well as usual, it makes no sense to me that a guy that talented, trying to hit nothing but homers, failed to hit a home run in his first 19 games after the All-Star break.

The power outage had to do with lack of rest. There is no way a 31 year old outfielder needs to play all 162 games unless his last name is Ripken. When you consider that the Phils have a genuine lefty masher available in the person of Jason Michaels, it becomes completely unfathomable why the Phils insist on running Abreu into the ground. If the Phils give J-Mike 10 starts against lefties in right, they will benefit not only from the increased production during those games but also in the extra production they receive from a fresher Abreu.

What would be interesting to me would be to know whether the Gold Glove or Home Run Derby Championship--two awards that have nothing to do with Abreu's actual value--have any effect on his value in the minds of other GMs. If so, then it could be that Bobby has finally gone from underrated to a bit overrated, in which case a deal could be more palatable. Unfortunately, judging by the rumors attached to his name (to St. Louis for Marquis, to the Blue Jays for Wells and Chacin or Batista, to Houston for Backe and Qualls) during the Winter Meetings, we have a long way to go before Abreu is overrated.

Speaking of overrated, let's talk Vicente Padilla and Rob Tejeda. The intelligentsia of Phillies fans have ratcheted up the level of angst attached to the Padilla trade to heretofore unknown levels. Chill out, people. I know that Chris Wheeler's and Larry Anderson's constant bashing of Padilla made you all root for him a little harder; how could you not?  

But the fact is that Padilla hasn't had a good season since 2003. Yes, I know he was injured, but is there any indication he won't get injured again? He didn't have surgery on his elbow; instead, he treated it with rest, which really seems to be just a postponement of the inevitable. For those that argue that he had a good 2nd half (he did) and that indicates he must be healthy, how do you explain the 4.91 ERA in September?

Finally, isn't it possible he really is a bad dude? This is a guy who is strongly rumored by Nicaraguan media to have drinking problems, a guy who throws batting practice in the first inning, won't throw the pitches his coaches tell him to throw and won't tell them when he is hurt. The Phillies got offered nothing for him and did not feel like paying him in excess of $4 million. They gave him five years and it didn't work out. While he may hit new levels of greatness in Texas, that doesn't mean the Phillies made the wrong decision. Some people need a change of scenery and that might be what the doctor ordered for Padilla.

Finally, I am generally pretty pleased with the Phillies braintrust's handling of Rob Tejeda. Media reports indicate that the Phillies believe Tejeda got lucky his first time around the league and would be exposed if he was a starter next year. The thing is, they're right. The guy hasn't had an ERA lower than his 3.57 for the Phils since 2001 when he pitched in the Sally league. He walks way too many guys and there are very few indicators based on his minor league track record that he will continue to pitch as well as he did last year. The Phils should be commended for picking up on the idea that pitchers do well their first time around the league and giving Tejeda a shot last year. Having seen the positive results that came from giving that shot, they really need to be lauded for recognizing the success for what it is and cashing in their winnings. I would have preferred that they continue to talk Tejeda up in hopes of trading him for something more valuable, but perhaps the team realized that most other GMs would see right through those words.

Gillick could go a long way towards allaying fans' fears if he can flip one of his outfielders for a pitcher. Until then, I'm left in the uneasy position of feeling that the Phightins are worse than they were last year and yet still thinking that the GM is doing a great job.