By Justin Adkins:
Mike Schmidt, like most, loves the Four Horsemen.
“Maybe the best ever,” Schmidt said, referring to the Phillies ridiculous rotation. He is not so impressed with the Phillies offense however.
“With the exception of a few guys, I think they underachieved as hitters last year,” said Schmidt, who is at spring training again as a guest instructor. “I think to the man they all feel the same way about themselves,” Schmidt said. “I think a lot of them feel like they underachieved last year. I look for big years out of all those guys that feel that.”
The Hall of Famer (and this guy’s favorite all-time player) did have some nice things to say though.
“Utley and Victorino and (Placido) Polanco, those guys are geared into one thing, getting on base and setting the table, creating havoc and stealing bases,” Schmidt said. “You can’t maximize that part of your game if you’re hitting a lot of fly ball outs, hitting a lot of 1-0 fastballs and flying out, thinking that you’re a home run hitter.”
But then he got to Jimmy Rollins. And while he mentioned Shane Victorino positively above, Schmidt made it clear that Vic, along with Rollins, needs to step up.
“You have to be a get-on-base guy and face it and that’s what is going to make the team go,” Schmidt said. “They need to be accountable for what they are.”
Schmidt didn’t stop there.
“Jimmy needs to be more Pete Rose-like in his approach to the game and more accountable for getting on base. I look for a Rollins to push a 200-hit year. I look for Victorino to have a 200-hit year and we’re talking in those terms: 100 walks, 200 hits. They’re sort of out there for goals with those guys that you haven’t seen in the last few years. They are part of a winning team, don’t get me wrong, but I still think they are underachieving as players.”
“Jimmy Rollins can’t do what Pete Rose did, just take a year. I mean Pete Rose got 200 hits 10 straight years and Jimmy is faster. I just think Pete understood more what his role was. Jimmy needs to be more Pete Rose-like in his approach to the game and more accountable for getting on base. Offensively, he’s about running and getting on base and getting hits and leading the league in hitting. He wants to look at the USA Today every day or the Inquirer and see his name right up there in the top three of hitting. It should be, right? Same with Victorino and I know they feel that way.”
The legendary third baseman does at least think things look good for the coming season, predicting a rebound year from Utley as well as Rollins and Vic.
“If the pitching staff stays healthy all year, and Brad (Lidge) and the guys in the middle of the bullpen are healthy and are good, it’s going to be an exciting team to watch,” Schmidt said. “Maybe more exciting than any team they’ve had and they’ve sure had some exciting ones the last couple years.”
Even Phils manager Charlie Manuel, not really a proponent of the small-ball approach, thinks Schmidt makes solid points.
“Without a doubt we’re capable of playing more situations but those guys have to have their ordinary years,” Manuel said. “Our speed has to get on base to steal bases or to go first-to-third on a single. If we don’t get our fast guys on, then our slow guys are not going to be able to take two bases.”
It’s safe to say that everyone will be happy if the bats produce this year in the one way that matters – scoring runs. The Horsemen will take care of the rest.
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