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You Can't Tell the New Phillies With a Scorecard

June 20, 1989|Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Len Dykstra, Roger McDowell, Dennis Cook, Terry Mulholland, John Kruk and Randy Ready are all on the Philadelphia Phillies' roster, but you wouldn't know it without a new scorecard.

General Manager Lee Thomas wasn't kidding when he promised to shake up the foundering franchise.

Thomas, who joined the Phillies last June 21, listened and watched as his club sank to the worst record in baseball.

He saw his pitchers give up too many walks, wild pitches and gopher balls. He cringed at the mental mistakes--throws to the wrong base, stupid base-running and runner after runner left on base.

On May 29, 39-year-old slugger Mike Schmidt set the overhaul of the Phillies in motion when he retired in San Diego, saying his skills had deserted him.

Then Thomas acted.

On June 2, Thomas sent outfielder-third baseman Chris James to the San Diego Padres for outfielder-first baseman Kruk and infielder Ready.

It was just the beginning.

On Sunday, Thomas sent ace reliever Steve Bedrosian to the San Francisco Giants for Cook and Mulholland, a pair of 26-year-old left-handed pitchers. He also got minor-league infielder Charley Hayes.

About half an hour after the Giants' deal, Thomas struck again.

This time he sent outfielder Juan Samuel to the New York Mets for center fielder Dykstra and reliever McDowell.

The Phillies may still finish with the worst record in baseball, but Thomas has made sure it won't be with the same old cast.

Manager Nick Leyva wasted no time deploying his new players, tabbing Cook and Mulholland for the starting rotation.

Mulholland is listed to start in Tuesday's twi-night doubleheader against St. Louis and Cook probably will start Thursday. Dykstra, who platooned with the Mets, takes over center field on an everyday basis.

"Both Cook and Mulholland can pitch here," Thomas said. "They may take some lumps. But they both have outstanding arms."

The aggressive Dykstra gives the Phillies the leadoff-type hitter they have sought. He has a reputation for making things happen, and Leyva said he likes the look of Dykstra, Tom Herr and Von Hayes in the first three spots of the batting order.

At first glance, McDowell replacing Bedrosian as the bullpen closer appears to be a lateral move. But the main reason the Phillies could afford to let Bedrosian go is they rarely had late-inning leads to protect.

Bedrosian, who won the NL Cy Young Award two years ago, is 2-3 with six saves in only 23 appearances this season. He had only nine save opportunities and a 3.21 ERA. McDowell is 1-5 with four saves and a 3.31 ERA.

All players involved appeared to understand the moves.

Bedrosian and Samuel leave a no-win situation for teams with excellent chances of winning their divisions. Cook, Mulholland, Dykstra and McDowell are going to have to learn how to live, at least initially, in the world of the losers.

"I know they're (the Phillies) trying to make some headway and make things happen. You can't blame them for that," Bedrosian said.

Samuel, a two-time NL All-Star second baseman, had been switched to center field this year to make way for Herr.

"I was ready for it," Samuel said. "Sure, you want to stay where you started. But it's part of the business."

Mulholland was happy to change teams.

"I think it's great for me," he said. "While I felt I was not wasted with the Giants, I would have liked to do more for the team. There were a lot of older players ahead of me. And the Phillies are looking to the future."

Cook, who beat Cincinnati on Saturday, said "as long as I get to pitch that's all that matters. The Giants had too many good left-handers all logjammed together. Have the Phillies bettered themselves? We'll see."

Dykstra tried to be philosophical about going from a contender to a loser.

"Every team has highs and lows. Obviously this team can't get any lower," he said. "I think I've come at a good time, because there is no way to go but up.

"I'll be getting a chance to contribute every day and that's all I've wanted. I don't know what it's like to lose. And it's not something I want to learn."

McDowell admitted he has struggled this season.

"I really believe a lot of it comes comes from not being given the opportunity to pitch with the Mets like I've had in the past few years," he said. "I haven't been pitching in many key situations and that is difficult to adjust to."

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