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Phillies spring training guest instructor power rankings

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"What are you working on?" people ask. "Yeah, you know..." I reply.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

I'll bet there's no one who is bad at instructing here. This post is merely to kill a few of the minutes remaining in the two-week period before pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, and by proxy, the interminable amount of time left before baseball games are played.

1. Larry Andersen

When Liz Roscher and I attended the second to last Phillies home game of 2015, we found ourselves within shouting distance of the radio booth. Naturally, we began shouting, leading Scott Franzke, and eventually Larry Andersen, to oblige us with a wave. Or, they felt they had to wave in order to get the shouting to stop. Which it did, briefly.

There is no one more real, more human, or more relatable in the Phillies organization than the color commentator on their radio crew/former relief pitcher and performing artist. No one more closely serves as a fan representative embedded in the franchise, shouting down from the booth at the players and being willing to acknowledge fans as they harass him from several levels below while he is at work.

When I think of who would be the best influence on young Phillies players, I think of the man standing outside Turner Field in 1993 as Braves fans funneled in, chanting "The Braves are go-nna lo-ose!at a bunch of children. We can overlook things like a complete absence of knowledge on one of the sport's main components.

2. Charlie Manuel

Remember when Charlie Manuel was offering to manage the Nationals? Ha ha, glad to see that that dream has been efficiently murdered and we can all get back to having Charlie around doing what he does best: hanging around, giving people hitting advice. We don't know the ancient Virginia hitting adages or the sinister Japanese baseball secrets Charlie whispers in the ears of young hitters to make them so good - surely, his mind is full of both.

But we do know that he should keep whispering them, no matter how many prospects are forced to respond with "Gah! Oh, sorry, Charlie... didn't see you there, before you started murmuring hitting tips in my ear in the Osaka Ben dialect."

The best advice Charlie ever gave, though, was not whispered, but shouted across the press room at Howard Eskin.

3. Matt Stairs

If Matt Stairs had done anything but hit a home run off Jonathan Broxton in the 2008 NLCS, would he be here? Would he have his job in the TV booth? Would he be as much of a mainstay within the Phillies organization as he is?

Not that I'm complaining. I don't mind Stairs in the booth at all - I actually feel like I've become numb to complaining about broadcasters except in some severe cases - and he actually can speak on the mechanics of hitting quite expertly. I just like to imagine him telling young hitters to "Try and hit a home run every time," which is not only cool advice, but also contradictory to what most kids are taught in little league, when frustrated coaches and/or dads beg us to just "put the bat on the ball" as they rub their faces in exasperation and mutter "You're 18 years old, Justin, why can't you succeed at this even a little bit?"

4. Mike Schmidt

Obviously, we all know the unspeakable Philadelphia secret  that anyone who ever got close enough to the William Penn statue on top of City Hall to see its face would notice immediately: it actually has Mike Schmidt's face. And then that person would be silenced forever by one of the many guild assassins protecting the city's many, many terrible secrets. It just goes to show the reverence and severity of Schmidt's stature in Philadelphia. I mean, that statue was finished in 1894, 78 years before Schmidt made his big league debut. This shouldn't be possible.

However, Schmidt lost me for a bit this past season when he revealed that he thinks home runs are bad for teams trying to score runs. Among other things.

"That was a nice swing and all; that ball must have gone 500 feet," Schimidt says, advising an inquisitive, powerful young hitter. "But think about this: maybe rattle the ball around in the corner and get on base, instead of being a selfish rally-killer? Think about it. I'm Phillies legend Mike Schmidt."

5. Greg Luzinski

You could do worse than a four-time All-Star who played for the team for ten years and set up shop in the stadium to sell giant, overpriced meat chunks. He is something of a traveling hitting salesman, riding the rails of this nation and dispersing baseball tidbits to those in need.

"Get a good pitch, keep your head down, and try to get through it," he advised some Indiana residents trying to win $50,000 at an Indianapolis Indians game in 2010.

Should we fault Luzinski for the fact that none of the competitors hit a home run, leading one to tell the local news, "I'm actually pretty embarrassed about it, to be honest with you?" Not really, because when none of the laymen were able to put on a show, Luzinski grabbed a bat and, looking like a fairy tale giant that burst out of a different reality, smashed a few shots that sent the viewing public fleeing in terror.

6. Dave Hollins

I watched that 1993 video yearbook of the Phillies I linked to up in Larry Andersen's section on an infinite loop one summer and I still don't know if Dave Hollins ever says anything in it. How can a man without a voice serve as an instructor? Your honor, the defense rests.

Now, let's all look at this thing and consider how few words need to be spoken when you roast Greg Maddux right out of the playoffs.

6. Jim Kaat

Sure, he pitched for the 1976-79 Phillies in the "Golden Era" of Phillies baseball prior to the last one, but he also played for Washington. People tell me that's not as unforgivable an offense as I make it out to be, but, like any good baseball analyst, I refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of their argument and will not be budging from the way I think out of stubbornness.

He also wrote a book about the Yankees, choosing to glom onto the franchise with whom he only spent parts of two seasons over a 25-year career. If he thinks they're so great, why doesn't he go over to Tampa and talk to people at their training camp? The answer is, of course, because the Phillies asked him to do this and he seems like a nice man, as he appears in this 2015 interview in which he covers a variety of topics including baseball, broadcasting, and which 2016 GOP presidential candidates are like which Yankees legends.