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Rollins, Howard finally show offensive life

October 16, 2008|Kevin Baxter and Jim Peltz | Times Staff Writers

The Phillies dominated the Dodgers despite the fact two of their biggest offensive threats -- Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard -- were virtual no-shows at the plate through the first four games of the National League Championship Series.

But both showed signs of waking from their slumber Wednesday with Rollins getting the Phillies started with a leadoff home run and Howard singling three times, scoring a run and driving in another.

"I struggled all series long, there's no secret there," said Rollins, as teammates drenched him with beer and champagne following the Phillies' pennant-clinching 5-1 win.

As to which American League team, Tampa Bay or Boston, Rollins would like to see in the World Series, the former NL MVP said he really had no preference.

"When you get to the playoffs you have to beat anybody they put in front of you," he said.

Added Howard: "It's been a team effort, a matter of different people stepping up. It's a special time for us and the city of Philadelphia."

Building a champion

Somewhere Ed Wade is smiling. Or maybe grimacing.

Either way the Phillies would do well to vote him a share of their World Series bonuses because Wade, who spent 16 years in the Phillies' front office, deserves much of the credit for assembling the building blocks for Philadelphia's league championship club.

"It really started years ago when Ed's plan to build from within started to come to fruition," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.

Under Wade and scouting director Mike Arbuckle, the Phillies invested heavily in player development, drafting future MVPs Rollins and Howard, All-Stars Chase Utley and Cole Hamels, power-hitting outfielder Pat Burrell and pitchers Ryan Madson and Brett Myers. That's half the Phillies' starting lineup, half their postseason rotation and a big part of their league-leading bullpen.

For that Wade was rewarded with a pink slip after the 2005 season, eventually moving on to become the general manager in Houston. But his replacement, Pat Gillick, built on the foundation he left behind, trading popular outfielder Bobby Abreu -- and the $35.4 million left on his contract -- to create playing time for Shane Victorino, signing free agents J.C. Romero, Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz and trading for Joe Blanton, Brad Lidge and Jamie Moyer.

"One of the beauties of Pat is that he can take a core group like this and bring the other pieces and the parts together to make it a championship club," Amaro said. "And that's what he did."

Said a gracious Gillick of his predecessor: "He had the nucleus."


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