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Sunday, January 27, 2008


I want to repeat this comment from the prior thread because it's so stupid:

"The fond memory of Mike Lieberthal I have is that when he came up, we never made the playoffs again coming off a WS appearance. When he left, we made the playoffs."

Yep, Lieby was the problem. Removing him allowed us to make the playoffs.

He announced "I'm done" in Carson, tidbit because of the name.

I know it had nothing to do with Lieberthal, but it is weird that the Phils last made the playoffs in '93 before Lieby debuted in '94 and made the playoffs last season right after he left the team.

The riskiest possible draft pick is a HS catcher and that's what Lieby was in 1990 when he was the 3rd pick of the 1st round by the same team that once made HS catcher Trey McCall their 1st round pick.

Lieby's minor league stats were mediocre and he didn't have a lick of power, but he was young for his league at every level and his glove and arm were superb. One sign that he'd be able to hit in the bigs: His K/BB ratio was rock solid from the start. He didn't walk much but he put the ball in play most every AB (i.e. he was the anti-Golson).

He wound up having surprising power right around the time when players were discovering the benefits of "supplements." After a couple strong power years he started having injuries and eventually got pretty worn down.

Still, his stats speak for themselves as JW points out. He had the best Phillies career of any catcher in history.

Because of the hype as a #1 pick, it's hard for people to realize how good he was.

His biggest problem was simply injuries, but a lifetime 4200 ABs with an OPS+ of 101 is damn impressive for a catcher.

I'll miss seeing him. Too bad he couldn't stretch out one more year with the Fightin's...seeing that LAD at the bottom of his B-Ref page doesn't seem right.

Mike Lieberthal was one of the biggest mistakes the Phillies have made so far drafting. You just don't draft a small HS catcher with no power and speed that could not play any other position. The Phillies spent more money and time developing him (if you can call it that) than any other player in recent memory, it seems. They kept him all these years because he was a good PR and company guy. Can you believe this guy was starting for us 2 years ago and cannot find a job know at age 36 when there is not a lot of serviceable catchers around. Even Rod Barajas found a good contract the other day with Toronto after he was a complete flop last year with the Phillies. That's says it all about Lieby. Yeah he was in the Phillies record books because they kept him so long.

Today is the infamous day in Phils history that they traded the slick fielding Larry Bowa and young Ryne Sandberg to the Cubs for Ivan DeJesus...such a shame.

David: Let's see if I have this right. Lieberthal had the best Phillies career of any catcher in history and drafting him was "one of the biggest mistakes"?

He was 18 when he was drafted and pushed through the minor leagues where he was young for every level. He was a big league catcher at age 22. Yet you say they spent "more money and time developing him"?

Carson: That was a brutal trade although far from the worst in Phillies history. Bowa was at the end of the line and DeJesus at that point was a better fielder and a better hitter (although that doesn't say much). He played 161 and 158 games the next 2 years and his defense was a key reason why the Phils went to the 1983 World Series.

The real crime of that trade is that Sandberg was just a throw in to offset the age gap between the other two. Dallas Green snookered his former team.

from the previous thread:

lekh, no offense taken, never was. Just fun rattling cages every once in a while.

Carson, thanks for the reminder...NOT.

I still think of what the team would have looked like in the 80's if theat trade wasn't made.

It would have featured Schmidt and Sandberg together in the infield for a couple of years.

That was a terrible trade in Phillies history - a HOF player traded away - and we have Bill "The Walking Sphincter" Giles to thank for it.

kdon, I agree with your post from the previous thread.

The Inky has been the Stinky this offseason as far as Phillies coverage is concerned.

It must be a great job to have if you're Zolecki,

Collect a salary and post a blog entry a couple of times a week.

May fave for worst Phillies trade ever is this one: Fergie Jenkins and 2 scrubs to the Cubs for Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl. Jackson was 35 years old and, while still a workhorse, had a losing record for the Phils over the next 3 years. Buhl was 37 and already washed up.

Jenkins won 284 games and went to the Hall of Fame.


From your comments, I can only conclude that you are either 10 years old, or you are the least informed poster who has ever posted on Beerleager. My guess would be the former.

Let's take a brief quiz. What do the following people all have in common: Reggie Taylor, Chad McConnell, Jeff Jackson, Gavin Floyd, Carlton Loewer, Wayne Gomes?

A. They were all Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court
B. They all won Congressional Medals of Honor
C. They were all members of the U.S.'s 1980 Gold medal hockey team
D. They were all Phillie first round draft picks of the last 20 years, who turned out substantially worse than Mike Lieberthal

AWH posted...."I still think of what the team would have looked like in the 80's if that trade wasn't made.

It would have featured Schmidt and Sandberg together in the infield for a couple of years.

That was a terrible trade in Phillies history - a HOF player traded away - and we have Bill "The Walking Sphincter" Giles to thank for it."...

reply: The post-83 Phillies would have still been a crappy team but with one extra good player.


Favorite Lieby memory:

June 16, 1998 - Phils score 7 in the 9th in an 8-7 win over Pittsburgh, capped off by a 2-out 3-R walk-off PH HR by Lieberthal.

Ditto on Lieberthal, he was a professional and willing to take a low salary and small roll to stay with the Phils. He was a great Philly.


Its funny - for a guy who played parts of 13 seasons in Philly this really went below the radar. Probably largely due to Lieby's quiet demeanor and that a large part of his Phils' career coincided with a time when the Phils are ineptly run/public interest in the Phils reached its low-point in the past 30 years (late 90s).

Lieberthal was a very solid catcher with the Phils during his prime who will probably be given more credit 20 years from now due to two factors:

1. Given that it was unlikely that Lieby did steroids/performance-enhancing drugs, his numbers have to be given greater emphasis from a performance standpoint.

2. Lieby played most of his prime years in the Vet which was a pitcher's park compared to CBP.

Maybe the Phils did keep Lieby a year or two too long but he was never the reason why the Phils didn't make the playoffs.

One of my all-time favorite Phils. I just wish he had been able to finish up in Philly with that playoff appearance and not with the Dodgers.


You can argue that there have been worse trades, but giving up a HoF fro Ivan DeJesus isn't "far from the worst trade."

And David:

Yes, Lieby started two years ago and posted a 754 OPS. That's pretty damn good. Look around the league and find many catchers better than that.

You are the perfect example of my earlier point: people looking at hype rather than performance.

Since he became a regular in 97 , he provided the Phillies with above average production in 7 out of 9 years (and 4 of those where he was one of the top catchers in the NL), and the other two were due to injury.

If you think this equals a "mistake," you don't a thing about how 1st round draft picks normally perform, or the average production teams get from catchers.

screw all ya Lieby Haters. He was never a great player but way above average for a catcher. He, alone, was not the reason for the Phils apathy in the 90's and early 00's. Frankly, we all know that during those years this ownership was flat out cheap and did little to field a winning team.

This story will be born out in the next few years when guys like Burrell, Abreu, Wolf, and Rolen all retire.

Burrell, Abreu, Lieby, Wofie and Rolen were not franchise type players yet the Phils insisted on marketing them as so. They quickly became the poster boys for futility we got sick of them disappointing season after disappointing season. They were all guys that would make perfect complimentary players to very good teams. Management figured they had a strong core of young players whom they could keep on the cheap for years.

I just hope the team doesn't go down the same path and same story won't be written about the current "Stars" aka Rollins, Howard & Utley.

Feel free to rip me a whole new A$$hole for this post if you like

kdon: Well, it's not worth arguing about the meaning of the word "far." The Jenkins trade was far worse in my opinion because, unlike the Sandberg deal, it didn't get the Phils into the World Series in exchange for a HOF player, as the Sandberg deal did.

Obviously we can both agree the Sandberg deal was awful, terrible etc. But again, at least something of value was returned (unlike the Abreu deal for example.)

By the way if Howard does turn down a multi year contract at a reported $14-$16/million per year then shame on him. From reports written in the paper it looks like Howard's parents might be too involved in his contract negotiations (aka Lindros). He is now on agent #3 in 4 years and is even looking at signing Boras. Perhaps we need to consider trade options in the near future for the big man.

Hank the T:
We're not gonna rip you a new anything when you say thingsa that are true. You are right that the guys you mentioned were not the marquee players the PR stated they were. If we could add them to the genuine stars on the current team they would make the Phils into a top flight AL team.

Who could forget those Toyota commercials w/ Jeremy Roenick? Maybe he'll find work as a sportscaster.

Anthing is better than any commercial/television spot/radio spot involving Philadelphia's most overrated athlete in a decade: Jeremiah Trotter. I can't stand that guy, and didn't much care for his game.

Clout, I understand your point, but DeJesus clearly was not the difference for the '83 club!

Bowa fell off a cliff in '84, but there was little difference between Bowa and DeJesus in 83 (84 OPS+ vs. 78). And defensively, Bowa made far fewer errors (11 to 23) and had a much better fielding percentage (.984 to .966).

The reason I think Sandberg was worse than, say, Abreu (or Schilling or Rolen) is not the return package, but the fact that we traded *the entire career* of a HoF 2B.
With the latter three, we at least enjoyed some of their peak years before the trade.

I agree the Jenkins trade was worse, but getting only 6 AB from Sandberg makes it "close" to one of the worst trades ever by the Phils.

...and if you want to talk about return value, Larry Jackson pitched three great years for the Phils after the trade, over 240 IP in three straight years with ERA+ of 119, 110, 109.

If you want to go strictly in terms of return value, Jenkins was a better deal than any of the big 3 trades by the Phils recently.

kdon: DeJesus was clearly the better shortstop compared to Bowa at that point in their careers, more errors or no (Bowa was 37 in 1983). While DeJesus was not the single biggest factor in winning the NL, you can't say for sure they would've done it with Bowa, who'd lost a few steps.

Regarding Jackson, his ERA was indeed better than league average in his 3 years with the Phils but the fact is he had a losing record for a team that had a winning record in 2 of the 3 years. That may be "great" by your definition but it isn't by mine.

Also by the big 3 trades, I assume you're talking about Schilling, Rolen and Abreu. I'd argue that Padilla was at least as good as Jackson, at least he was .500 and he pitched more years. The return on Rolen was Polanco, a good little player. The problem in each of these cases was what they got when they traded Padilla and Polanco: Nothing. In Abreu they skipped that middle step, trading him directly for nothing.

Clout, you may be right about Bowa losing a step, but the Phillies won the NL East in 83 by 6 games, and you would be hard pressed to make the argument that DeJesus was six wins better than Bowa that year.

By comparison, 6 wins was about the difference in production between Jimmy Rollins and Michael Bourne last year (66.1 to 6.0 VORP, with about 10 runs = 1 win).

And it is fun to watch you defend the Ed Wade trades over Fergie. I would have hated to see your posts in the lat 60s.

Am I the only person who was surprised Lieberthal's name has never come up during the steroids controversy. I've always been suspicious of how he suddenly transformed into a power hitting catcher soon after he became a full-time big-leaguer. After he bopped like 30 homers in his second year, I made the comment that he would never achieve that again. He had a couple nice years before knee injuries caught up to him, but Ed Wade and Co. made a huge mistake signing him to a long-term deal. He was clearly not as bulked as he was in the mid-90s when he had his brief power surge. But perhaps injuries played into that. Nevertheless, we paid for that mistake dearly for about four or five years. I was so happy to see him go, and what a difference it made when he and David Bell (two of the slowest 5-10, 180 types you'll ever see) removed from the bottom of the lineup in favor of Dobbs and Ruiz.

Goodbye Lieby. You deserved better than zero playoff appearances. You would have to consider him one of the top catchers in franchise history, like it or not. He was a very solid defensive catcher who was largely taken for granted during his time here. Being a smallish guy, I think his body wore down too much during the last few years. Falling out of that golf cart might have been the last straw. His quiet demeanor didn't help matters either, nor did the rumors about his sexuality...but that is neither here nor there.

SteveO- yes, I thought about that too, he might have had help his all-star year, but we'll never know.

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