Some considered Aaron Rowand’s leadership irreplaceable, but you wouldn’t know it from the wins and losses. Is clubhouse character overrated, or have new leaders emerged? We ask Scott Lauber of The News Journal.
Beerleaguer: The Philadelphia sports fan values leadership, heart and grit. That was how Aaron Rowand played when he was here. When he signed with San Francisco, there was concern that the clubhouse would miss his presence. Yet here they stand, 31-24, in better shape than a year ago. From your perspective, covering the team on a regular basis, who sets policy inside the Phillies locker room? Are new voices being heard?
Scott Lauber: To me, the most obvious answer is Jimmy Rollins. Because of his importance to the team and his status as the reigning NL MVP, his voice probably rises above all others in terms of being a leader in the clubhouse. As reporters, I think most of us view Rollins as the go-to player for a state-of-the-team comment, in good times and bad. Generally, he has a lot to say, and he usually says it with some flair.
But there are other voices that have emerged, too. I think back to last season when the Phillies started 4-11 and had their often-discussed team meeting before a game in Cincinnati. Obviously, Aaron Rowand had a lot to say that day, but many people told me Jamie Moyer spoke up quite a bit during that meeting. So, too, did Chase Utley. In his own way, Utley is a significant team leader, though I think most of his leadership comes by example. It's hard for pitchers to be leaders because they don't play every day, but I think Moyer and Tom Gordon are as respected as anyone in the clubhouse. When they speak, other guys listen. People may find this surprising, but I think Pat Burrell is a leader, too. Like Utley, Burrell isn't a team spokesman with the media, but I think his impact is felt behind-the-scenes. Without being prompted, some players have told me that Burrell is as devoted to the cause of winning as any player on the team.