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This Week in 1983: Feb. 20-Feb. 26 - Are problems beginning to arise?

All is not well in Clearwater

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Was Pete Rose a problem heading into the season?

When Pete Rose signed with the Phillies, he was viewed as the missing piece for a team that needed to learn how to win playoff games. The World Series vindicated the expenditure on Rose, but now, three years after the fact, the team was starting to think about the future.

During this week in 1983, questions about how much Rose would be given a breather we starting to come up. The manager at the time, Pat Corrales, had mentioned giving Rose a day or two here and there, but Rose was having none of it. In fact, he was quoted as saying:

“When Ruly Carpenter signed me, I told him I would play every game. That was and is my intention. I’m bothered because I don’t think there’s anybody who can tell me when to take off and know it’s going to help me.” 1

Rose was planning on having a sitdown with Corrales to discuss the plans, but you can see the seeds of discontent being planted about how much authority Corrales was going to have with this team. Knowing what you know about them, you know how Corrales’s tenure ends, but one has to wonder what these kinds of comments do to his idea of being the authority in the clubhouse. One has to remember, these were not the days like they are today. Managers still held a very large amount of sway and influence in the locker room. Should one of the players undermine it, cracks in the foundation would show. Here, we start to hear that familiar sound of concrete breaking just a tiny bit.

Carlton contract drama

It wouldn’t be a spring training in the 80’s without someone being upset with their drama. Once the players won their free agency with the McNally-Messersmith case, it turned the game on its head. Players were able to reap the benefits of untold riches, which led to some players getting upset with what they currently were making. We know that in that time, veterans were much more well regarded than the up and coming whippersnappers, so they were paid as such. If someone who won 15-20 games was in their mid-thirties, they’d be looked at with the same googly eyes by front offices as players today who are producing 5-6 WAR in their early twenties.

Steve Carlton was one of these players, an acknowledged Ace in the league, but someone who wanted more money than he was making. Having agreed to a handshake deal earlier, that handshake deal was near collapse, all thanks to Fernando Valenzuela.

Valenzuela had to gone through arbitration and was awarded the princely sum of $1.1 million for 1983. That made him one of the highest paid pitchers in the game, but his tenure in baseball had only lasted three seasons. Fantastic seasons, yes, but in the eyes of Carlton and his agent Dave Landfield, that doesn’t make him worthy of being the highest paid pitcher there was. That’s why Carlton was backing away. From Landfield, it was “quite likely that Steve will not be the highest paid pitcher in baseball in 1984 with the numbers being offered in the extension proposal submitted by the Phillies. And that has been the basis of our negotiations all along.” 2 He continued, “However, with Valenzuela getting $1 million for this season, the numbers we talked about for Steve in 1984 clearly jeopardize the chances of Steve being the highest-paid pitcher. So I am not sure that we want to agree to some of the numbers we had agreed to.”

This issue. The team wasn’t happy, getting huffed and puffed about his going back on a handshake deal.

Spring training is here! Players want better/more defined roles!

Tug McGraw? Healthy!

Ed Farmer? Doesn’t want to be a swingman.

Bo Diaz? Trying to match 1982.

Dick Ruthven? Can be an ace according to Corrales.

Spring training is here and optimism abounds in Clearwater. It’s that time where everyone predicts a great season for themselves, believing that Father Time can be staved off yet again. Gotta love that feeling!

1 Pascarelli, Peter. (1983, February 20) “Will Rose’s insistence on playing undermine Corrales’ authority?” The Philadelphia Inquirer, p. 70.

2 Pascarelli, Peter, (1983, February 22) “Carlton contract snagged” The Philadelphia Inquirer, C-1.