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This Week in 1983: Feb. 6-Feb. 12 - Rotation worries? Who, me?

Also, Richie Ashburn gets hammered

Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The rotation might be old. And injured.

The age of this team was, by this point, already well known. All people would talk about when writing about the team was not if they were going to be any good. It was would they make it to the end of the season all in one piece. But as discussed during this week, the rotation looked like it might be the weak spot on the team.

Steve Carlton was going to do Steve Carlton things. That was counted on by the team. After him at this point, there came a lot of question marks. Peter Pascarelli took to calling it a “staff riddled with the scar tissues of past and present arm injuries,” 1 there were options should the team need to make a deal. John Denny, Marty Bystrom, and Larry Christenson were all named as potential issues who had injuries in the past. Speculation was rampant that the team would trade from their outfield “surplus” with Gary Matthews, Garry Maddox, and Bob Dernier all candidates to be moved should the need arise. This same article above mentions that “the club has a deal it can make at any time, should it become necessary.” Pascarelli talks about how that the team the Phillies could deal with was either the Angels or White Sox, but nothing is ever said straight out. The White Sox were named since their outfield defense was “suspect” and the Angels nearly landed Maddox that winter. It was something to watch at this point in time.

Steve Carlton will soon be the richest pitcher on the planet

Life is just so much different nowadays. The minimum salary in baseball, something that was so contentious during the latest lockout by owners, is near three-quarters of a million dollars in the year of our Lord 2023. I’m not one to complain about player salaries, but it’s just so stark the contrast between now and then.

Consider: in 1982, Nolan Ryan was the highest earning pitcher in the game, making $1.1 million that season. That’s a mere pittance compared to what the highest earning starting pitcher is making this upcoming season when Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer cash in their checks this year.

This week in 1983, the news broke that the team was going to make Steve Carlton the highest paid pitcher in MLB, besting Ryan in AAV, needing only a “handshake” 2 to make it official. There some things to get through still, guaranteed number of years on the contract the biggest sticking point. The team only wanted to sign the pitcher for two more seasons, Carlton countering at four (and who said the Phillies were never progressive with their transactions...).

It is interesting that until that point, Carlton was never the highest paid pitcher in the game as he was probably the best one since the time the Phillies acquired him in 1972. But, with this contract, the team was telling everyone that Carlton is the best and deserves to be paid like the best.

Hope it works out for them!

Richie Ashburn: noted laggard, Irish-Coffee sampler, slurred writer

Tug McGraw hosted an Irish-coffee sampling event during this week. The guest judges were Tim McCarver, local dignitaries...and Richie Ashburn. At this point, Ashburn was writing a weekly column about the Phillies (or whatever else popped in his mind) and he decided to talk about how the event went. The result?

All in all, we sampled 24 different whiskey concoctions before we picked a winner. Sew if this righting luks a lul blurrrrry, yew kan sea wy. Tug wuz inn grate spearitz, Janet wuz sew purty, Tim laffed the knight aweigh, Jack seamed tu bee Souperman and the SHerriff shud’ve arestd everwon. Hairy Callous wud’ve bin inn hiz gloary. 3

It’s all fun and games until Whitey gets hammered.

1 Pascarelli, Peter. (1983, Feb. 6) Pondering possibilities if Phils develop sore arms. The Philadelphia Inquirer, 7-D.

2 Stark, Jayson. (1983, Feb. 10) Carlton to be top-paid pitcher. The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1-F.

3 Ashburn, Richie. (1983, Feb. 10) Winter Highs, Winter Lows. Philadelphia Daily News, p. 80.