The Phillie brass went out hacking wildly in the off-season, the way the Whiff Kids had done all last season. What the cuts brought were some intriguing goods, which could make the Phils a hit. A better bet is that by the time the new Phils introduce themselves—each to each and each to his new position—manager John Felske will be the unkindest cut of all.
Gary Redus, out of Cincinnati's leftfield, will be free to steal 80 bases from the leadoff spot. To do so, he'll have to overcome his uppercut and cut down on his K rations—one every 4.7 at bats, even higher than the team's already high average (5.0). "We had a lot of speed last year without Gary," says Felske. "We just didn't get on enough to use it."
A Redus redux could prove to be a steal, but the trade cost the Phils John Denny. That left the pitching staff with only Kevin Gross and Shane Rawley as reliable starters. Gross, 24, won 15 even though the Phils scored just 3.4 runs for each of his starts. His command of pitches—slider, curve, change, fastball—is matched only by his repertoire of duck paintings (swimming, flying, landing, taking off). He can also paint the corners.
The Phils lost 35 one-run games last year. That's why catcher Ozzie Virgil went to Atlanta for pitcher Steve Bedrosian. When used strictly in relief in '84, Bedrock fanned 81 in 83.2 innings, ranked second in the league with a 1.71 relief ERA, and held righties to a .174 average.
Milt Thompson, 27, came along with Bedrosian, and he'll team with Redus for a new one-two speed punch. Thompson batted .326 on grass in '85 and gobbles ground in center. But he strikes out a lot. The league strikeout co-king, second baseman Juan Samuel—his 141 Ks tied Dale Murphy—will bat third in front of third (and former first) baseman Mike Schmidt. Behind Schmidt will be ex-outfielder and current first baseman Von Hayes and rightfielder Glenn Wilson (102 RBIs).
The catchword for the Phillies is inexperience: John Russell, in his fourth position in four years, and Darren Daulton, coming off a shoulder injury, will try to add to their 32 games of experience behind the plate. Which one will catch Steve Carlton is an unresolved matter—Lefty wasn't saying. But there were encouraging words about his possible comeback this spring.
THE ELIAS ANALYST:
Phillies lost all 10 games in which he started and batted cleanup.
Led NL second basemen in games (159) and putouts (389); reduced E's from 33 in '84 to 15.
Has a career batting average of .346 at his new home, Veterans Stadium.
Needs 18 more homers to move into 7th on all-time NL list.
Three-run HR on Sept. 15 accounted for all his RBIs after July 22.
Drove in 17 base runners with 14 HRs, best rate in the majors last season.
Was 12-8 vs. teams above .500, 3-5 vs. teams below .500.
Gave up 26 first-inning runs (most in NL) in 31 starts last season.
Allowed one home run per 8.4 innings, 7th-worst rate among NL pitchers.
Is 49 wins short of Warren Spahn's career record for lefthanders, 363.
His 37 starts in '85 without a complete game broke Milt Wilcox's major league mark of 33.