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Monday, August 21, 2006

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First off, YOU are better than Salisbury, for sure. Maybe it's because he followed Stark, i don't know. But he doesn't do it for me.
Don't be awed by the pressbox, most sports writers are lazy and can't back up their opinions with real numbers (not to be confused with the sports radio show host, of course, who has created an entirely new category of ineptitude.)
Nice piece on Lieby above. I am looking forward to a catcher that can work with pitchers better, though. I think it's one aspect of the Phillies nuturing of young arms that has been overlooked. Perhaps (and maybe not) if we had a more nurturing catcher all these years, there may have been more successes from the depths of the minors. st

I agree that Lieby has generally been underappreciated during his tenure with the Phils. Maybe it has to do with the fact that he set the bar pretty high in '99/'00 and was not able to live up to those expectations due to his injuries in '01.

Still, I think the Phils' fans biggest gripe about Lieberthal has to due more with his lack of leadership, especially during the past few years. You would expect that an everyday player that has been with an organization for so long that we would assume some leadership qualities by default.

Besides Lieby's foolish comments this year about the Myers incident, Lieberthal never seemed that he was able to exert a positive influence on this team when they went through the duldrums or respond to teammates' who made foolish comments (e.g., Wagner's comments last year).

My most vivid memory of Lieberthal's leadership qualities is the battle he had with Bowa. While Bowa was a hothead who tended to push too many buttoms, I think he was trying to get Lieberthal to rise up and take charge on a team that needed a clear leader.

Instead, Lieberthal griped and complained well into the offseason. A true leader in this case swallows his pride and does what is necessary even when he does not totally agree with his boss. Lieberthal never seemed to do that.


My most memorable

Lieberthal was an above average catcher who took more criticism than deserved from the fans. However, some of that criticism was the result of not living up to a large contract. I think it was telling that veteran pitchers like Lieber preferred working with catchers like Fasano and Pratt. In the words of Mike Lieberthal -- whatever.

I've been very hard on Mike Lieberthal over the past few seasons, and continued to be up until a couple weeks ago. I like Lieberthal as 2nd string/backup/platoon catcher...just not the starter. His defense isn't very good and his ability to handle a staff and call a game have been questioned by many, but right now I'm rooting for the man to go out with class and production.

Jason, I agree with you 120%. I was with you that night, and I've felt the same about Lieberthal since.

Looking back at Lieby's batting stats, they are similar to Dutch Daulton's. Daulton also played 14 years on 2 gimpy knees (nearly all as a Philly) and was given a huge contract after just 2 outstanding seasons. I would rate Daulton as the best Phillies catcher of all time. But it remarkable how closely Lieby's career parallels Dutch's.

My gripe is with Lieberthal's sour puss attitude. He seems to come alive every late August, but, before that, it's four or five months of downtrodden apathy. He always looks dead out there; not even boos get to him. I can't attest to having my career sucked away with horrible injuries--and maybe my standards are too high--but I imagine a true winner would either push hard around his limitations or retire. Strolling zombie-like through five seasons resonates as empty to me.

That said, he's still above average. I wouldn't mind him returning but as backup/bench at a reduced price.

Humility is not your average Phils fans' strongest quality. So thanks Jason, for reminding us that the guys we criticize, boo, and call unflattering names often do not deserve all the abuse we shower on them.

If not for the serious injuries he suffered, Lieberthal would have probably been able to maintain his 1999-2000 level of production for a longer period than he did. When I think back on his career, I'll be more likely to remember the all-star player he was in those years, the one with tremendous bat speed and above-average defense. I think he's done the best he could since then offensively. If you're going to level any criticism at him, it should be for his lack of leadership skills and effectiveness with pitchers - but not for his diminished statistics in recent years.

Lieberthal was a pretty good starting catcher for a number of years. Those years have now passed him by, but he still could be a decent part-time catcher.

I can still remember when he got picked off of first out in Arizona back in 2001. It was rather sickening. All I could think of was who throws to first with a catcher who never runs over there?? Even though it was only May, I knew I was watching the Phillies hopes go right down the drain.

Back in those days, Lieberthal was an offensive force in the line-up. When he was going well in the late 90s and early 00s, he had one of the quickest, if not the quickest, bat on the team. It seemed like he could turn anyone's fastball around. He was consistently hitting line drives. Those consistent days are gone now, but he still could provide some decent offense on a part-time basis. While part of me would like to see what Carlos Ruiz could do, I would not object if the Phillies brought Lieberthal back next year and platooned him with Chris Coste, even more so if it means getting Wolf back at a decent price so we can fill some of our weaker areas.

Can Lieberthal be criticized for not being a leader? I guess. Catchers usually are leaders, but not everyone is a leader. Can he be criticized for his handling of the pitching staff? Yeah to a degree, but part of that blame goes to the pitchers too. All in all, Lieberthal has had a pretty good career, especially when he was fully healthy. He is probably the best offensive catcher in Phillies history, but the best overall catcher is most likely Darren Daulton, not only for his leadership skills but for his offense too when he was fully healthy.

It's taken a lot of thinking on my part, but now that Lieby is most likely out of Philly following this year, I realize that as far as he is concerned, Lieby is sometimes treated unfairly. He gets a lot of crap because he had big shoes to fill. Ignore the list of sub-par catchers that filled the void before Lieby came of age (i.e. Lenny Webster, Tom Prince, Gary Bennett, etc), Lieby had to fill the shoes of Darren Daulton as both a catcher and a leader. Offensively, Lieby sometimes shows that Daulton prowless, defensively, you never see Lieby give up passed balls. Defense is Lieby's game. But Lieberthal is not a vocal leader in the clubhouse the way Daulton was.

I have been harsh on him in the past because I questioned how much he truly cares. I sort of viewed him as a pretty boy, much like Pat Burrell. Lieby, however does actually care. I view him more as a Chase Utley type player now. Even though Chase is more vocal, they are both very humble and not very flashy with the way they present themselves. Dutch Daulton was as flashy as it got, in addition to being a pretty boy.

So in conclusion, I will be sad to see Lieby go, since he is the longest tenured athlete in Philly at the moment and it's hard to imagine a team without him. However, he is pretty much a staple of the Ed Wade stink this team carries. I will miss him, miss his defense, and miss hearing his name misprounced on "Baseball Tonight".

You're the man Mike.

Having been a catcher myself, I automatically give them some respect right out of the chute. Lieberthal is no exception in that regard. It's a tough job and it takes it's toll on you physically even after your playing days are over.

I cannot say Mike Lieberthal didn't give 100% all the time, and it wasn't his fault that he signed a big contract and then was felled by injury. I have never heard anything to suggest that he was not a professional and a class person.

But for someone who obviously had some talent, he made virtually no impact on the franchise over 14 seasons, good or bad. What defined him as a player?

As for whether the Phillies should re-sign him as a backup catcher, I would say they should not. You sign veterans like him for their leadership, and that is the one criticism that I have seen most levied at Lieberthal, a lack of leadership. It makes much more sense to find out if Carlos Ruiz can play at this level consistently. Add on the fact that I think it makes sense if you're trying to forge a new team identity to clear the clubhouse of one more holdover from the Wade era.

Lenny Webster...zow.

lieberthal is absoutly the best player to wear the tools of ignorance & pinstripes. i've been a supporter of his since i got his rookie card as an 11 year old in 1991. i was a little league catcher (named mike) & my favorite team is the phillies....hard not to like him. i hate to hear all the talk about him like he's in the past tense. if he is productive this last month & the phils do make the playoffs.......it will be a sad day when he leaves the phils, it'll be even sader if he doesn't retire as a phillie. i see him as a major improvement over carlos ruiz, mr. fu manchu, todd pratt, & untill chris coste has 14 productive major league seasons under his belt - him too.

That's what I'm talking about. Give the guy some credit. 14 seasons and 1160 games is nothing to sneeze at. This dude will limp the rest of his life for this team.

What is this sudden revision of Lieberthal history? He used to be a decent defensive catcher but that was at least 5 years ago. His supposed defensive prowess reputation long outlived his actual performance.

I think George S hit it on the head. For a guy who has been with this organization for 14 years, Lieberthal's possible departure this season will barely register on the radar. Think that is more an indictive of Lieberthal's leadership/persona than any bias that Phils' fans have.

Philly fans are the best in sports though fellas. We are the most passionate and the most knowledgable. It's safe to say we'll remember anyone who even made a remote impact on any of the 4 sports teams. And in Lieby's case, he's been here so long he's a tough guy to forget.

I'm glad most of you are willing to remember the good times of Mike Lieberthal's tenure. I remember them too, and that's the only reason why I want to see him go out with class and his dignity. I'm not a fan of his for many reasons, but I do respect him.

I'm just glad to see Lieberthal hitting the tar out of the ball lately, both to help the team in this improbable playoff push and (probably, though not necessarily; I could see him contributing in 2007) to end his Phillies career on a high note.

Many of us who long defended Bobby Abreu have argued that he can't really be blamed for the biggest knock against him: no playoff appearances in his Phillies tenure. If that's so, Lieberthal probably deserves the same defense. He was a solidly above-average catcher for a lot of years.

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