Pete and Joe and Tony are gone now, but the spirits of the old Red Guard still haunt the Phillie clubhouse, which seems oddly quiet these days. In their place are Len Matuszek, Juan Samuel and John Wockenfuss. How well Philadelphia does this year will depend on how well Matuszek and Samuel do at first and second base, respectively, the positions formerly occupied by Rose and Morgan. Wockenfuss was acquired from the Tigers last week to replace Tony Perez' righthand power off the bench.
"I mean no disrespect to Pete Rose and Joe Morgan," manager Pope Paul Owens pontificates, "but we think we've definitely improved ourselves defensively and probably offensively."
Samuel, 23, is a can't-miss prospect who can run, hit and hit for power. He has a bad habit of getting his feet crossed up at second base, but he's working hard to improve. Matuszek, 29, is a could-conceivably-miss prospect, a late bloomer who came into his own in the heat of the '83 pennant race. "Len has a tendency to worry too much," says Owens.
The Phillies have an overcrowding problem in the outfield that probably violates some fire laws. Leftfield is in the sole possession of Gary (Sarge) Matthews, who had to suffer through some benchings last year. Matthews has purchased a block of tickets for underprivileged children this season, and when it was suggested he call the group Sarge's Platoon, Matthews replied, "I've had enough of that platoon stuff."
Rightfield will be shared by Joe Lefebvre and Sixto Lezcano, but centerfield is a scramble. Von Hayes will probably end up there, even though he hit a weak .265 last year after the Phillies traded five players to the Indians for him. Hayes, who worships Ted Williams, was tutored by the Splendid Splinter in Winter Haven when the Phillies played the Red Sox there. "How old are you, 25?" Williams said to Hayes. "You can't possibly be as bad as you were last year." Said Hayes, "I finally figured out a way to meet Ted Williams."
The Phils have a few other nagging problems, including Mike Schmidt's heel and Bo Diaz's back. Their pitching appears sound, with Cy Young Award winners John Denny and Steve Carlton showing the way. Holding down the bullpen will be Al Holland, who reported to camp 15 pounds overweight. Said Holland, "I'm right where I want to be—fat."
Philadelphia will be a little thin in the leadership department, though, now that the three Hall of Famers have vanished. The Phillies made it into as many World Series (two) in the five years Rose was with them as they had in the previous 96 years of their existence.
More important to Phillie pitchers than their league-leading 1,092 strikeouts were their 464 walks, the league low. Finest example: John Denny (19-6, 2.37 ERA) had only 5.2 whiffs per nine innings but yielded just 1.97 walks per game. Despite being ninth in the NL in batting (.249), the Phillies were an opportunistic third in runs.