Today Philly Daily News columnist Bill Conlin tells us to rest easy — Raul Ibanez is going to be way better than Pat Burrell ever was. And the 2009 Phillies lineup, which is chock full of lefthanded hitters, will be much improved.
Manuel will have some flexibility. You could see a lineup against a lefthanded starter that opens with the World Series alignment that flipped Victorino and Werth in the Nos. 2 and 6 holes. Ask CC Sabathia, now in Yankees pinstripes, how that worked out. With Werth establishing himself as a certified power threat, Charlie could bat Shane No. 2, Utley 3, Howard 4, Werth 5 and Ibanez 6. And please don’t start with, “Don’t tell me they’re gonna pay $10 million a year to a No. 6 hitter.” The Phillies just got through paying $14 million a year for a guy who hit .257, struck out a ton, clogged the bases, hasn’t driven in 100 runs since 2005, has never scored 100 runs, and is a seven-inning player.
Crashburn Alley (who you may remember has a bit of a history with Conlin) has taken the time to break Conlin’s column down Fire Joe Morgan-style. But somehow Crashburn neglected to take Conlin to task for accusing Burrell of clogging the bases. And I’m not gonna let that slide.
I’d rather turn this one over to an expert. Here’s what FJM’s Junior (Alan Yang) had to say about base-clogging in April:
The problem is, 99.99463% of the time when writers use “clog the bases” or “clog the basepaths” or some variant thereof, the guy they’re accusing of base-clogging is way better at getting on base, hitting home runs (the opposite of base-clogging — it’s base-Drano-ing!), or both. So it makes little to no sense to complain about their lack of speed.
There’s no debating that Burrell is slow. But it’s not like his replacement, Ibanez, is greased lighting. Moreover, as Junior points out, it doesn’t make any sense to criticize Burrell for base-clogging when he does a better job at getting on base — and clearing them with home runs (.367 OBP/33 HR in 2008) — than Ibanez (.358/23).
The lesson learned here, Bill, is that it’s never a good idea to borrow phrases from Dusty Baker.