The Phillies' clubhouse harmony, and Jose Bautista - and there's a live chat today
That's right, it's the return of the live chat. 2:00 today. Who will be our first Live Chat MVP of 2011?
--I walked into Bright House Field at about 8:05 yesterday morning. My main assignment was Dallas Green's extremely emotional news conference at 10:00, but I figured, hey, the Phillies' clubhouse is fertile ground, even with just the pitchers and catchers.
I could ask Cliff Lee about Chuck Greenberg's recent comments (not to mention Randy Levine's response), I could ask Roy Oswalt about the retirement of his buddy and former Astros teammate Andy Pettitte, and ask him to partake in the "Will Andy Come Back?" parlor game.
Alas, those two guys - neither of whom has spent so much as a half-season in a Phillies uniform, and who have been teammates for less than a week - never made themselves available to talk. But they made themselves available to watch, and while not as valuable, they still painted an interesting picture.
From 8:05 to 9:15, Lee and Oswalt sat next to each other at a picnic-style table that is probably 10 feet long and two feet wide. Various other people, including Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels, shuttled in and out. Lee wore no cap, while Oswalt wore his backwards. They both had T-shirts and shorts on; it looked like they had completed some pre-workout exerccise, and now they were eating breakfast, with CMT on the television in front of them.
I'm not altogether naive. I think that Lee in particular sat there the whole time because he didn't feel like speaking with the media. Yet the two men emitted a clear sense of comfort, despite their relative newness with each other and the fact that neither has long service with the club. Shoot, it's the first Phillies spring training for both of them.
Scenes like this matter, IMO. No, they won't matter a great deal if Lee, Oswalt, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley go on the disabled list during the regular season. They can't trump reality. Yet they can help shape reality.
After all, for four straight seasons now, can't you argue that the Phillies have maximized their talent level? This is a club, under the leadership of Charlie Manuel, that has consistently not cheated itself.
And I've been in the Phillies' clubhouse enough during that time - in Clearwater, in Philadelphia, at Citi Field, at Yankee Stadium - to postulate that this group gets along exceptionally well. Really, they've sort of become the 1996-2001 Yankees of today. There's a shared experience of success, and an understanding of the very high expectations without being smothered by those expectations. Like those Yankees, they seem to shuttle in different elite names - David Wells for Jimmy Key, Roger Clemens for David , Halladay for Lee and now Lee's back - and do so without much turbulence.
(Yes, yes, those Yankees won four World Series, while these Phillies have won just one. Stipulated.)
Will eating breakfast and chatting with each other in February give Lee and Oswalt a little extra oomph on their breaking pitches in August? Doubtful. But will a very healthy work environment ensure that Lee and Oswalt are concentrating fully on their assignments, come August? Yes.
--I don't drink coffee, but if I did, I would've spit it out, movie-style (there's a tremendous Huffington Post collection of spit takes, but I won't link to it, as it's not family-friendly), upon reading that the Blue Jays were close to signing Jose Bautista to a five-year, $65-million contract extension.
Good Lord! I've loved pretty much everything Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has done since taking over the Blue Jays. I don't love this.
I get it: Bautista can be a free agent after this season, and if he duplicates his 2010 season in 2011, there'll be a massive competition for his services.
But what are the odds that the 30-year-old Bautista will go deep 54 more times in '11? What are the chances that he'll be a $13-million player in 2016, when he's 35?
--Joba Chamberlain defended his weight gain.
--Andruw Jones, upon arriving in his first Yankees camp, offered a funny thought about his new manager and aging.
--Terry Collins says his bullpen usage won't be governed by Francisco Rodriguez's $17.5-million vesting option for 2012. To be continued.
--Jose Reyes says he doesn't want to discuss his contract situation once the regular season arrives. Look at this point, it'll be an upset if Reyes is a Met in 2012.
--Here's a cool charitable venture: If you text "Sabathia" to the number 50555, you can make a $5 donation to CC Sabathia's PitCCh In Foundation.
--I'm in Port St. Lucie, set to hear what Fred Wilpon has to say today. I'll check in later with an afternoon blog post, sometime before or after the live chat.