During the 8 pm ET hour, Jim Bowden appeared for a short segment on ESPN Radio, as a part of a nightly season preview feature. Somewhat hilariously, the radio call that was used in the bumper coming out from the "SportsCenter" update was:
- a call from the Phillies' radio network;
- of Brad Wilkerson's cycle.
Bowden: First, to add offense---add speed, add power. In addition, to try to get players healthy. Last July, we had a 5.5 GM lead, then we suffered a bunch of injuries. But now Guillen, Johnson, Vidro, and Schneider are healthy, and that's important. Alfonso Soriano's "starting to have fun" in LF; we are glad to have his speed and bat.
ESPN: How delicate was Soriano situation?
Bowden: "It was a nightmare, to put it simply." But we didn't have an alternative or trade proposal that made sense. Respect must go to Soriano for being "man enough" to make the necessary change. He's had a positive attitude since then.
ESPN: Did Soriano's teammates pick him up during this controversy and after it was resolved?
Bowden: Oh yeah. Johnson and Guillen are particularly close with him.
ESPN: What was the secret of staying .500 and nearly competing for a playoff spot last season?
Bowden: Pitching, mainly the bullpen. Cordero, Ayala, Majewski: all were excellent. A major setback from that success is Ayala's injury during the WBC; had been counting on him for 60-70 appearances.
ESPN: What about the starting rotation? Livan Hernandez is the anchor, the ace. John Patterson is an up-and-coming pitcher. Where do you go from there?
Bowden: Livan and Patterson stand up with anyone in the game as a one-two punch. Three-four-five is Astacio, Ortiz, and Armas at this point. Jon Rauch has pitched well, and he "will be fighting for a spot" at some point. But everyone has a budget. If a pitcher is making $2.5M during a season, there's a reason why. You do what you can, expect something realistic. Each of those guys in the back of the rotation is capable of 140-180 IP, 10-14W. But we're always looking to upgrade.
ESPN: What about Frank Robinson? How's your relationship with him?
Bowden: Get along with him very well; there's a lot of mutual respect. Frank is a very strong man. He's tough and well respected. We've had a good relationship and positive communication with each other. We're "not always on same page," but we "mostly are."
ESPN: How does it work when a GM and a manager are not on the same page on an issue? How does it work with you and Frank?
Bowden: An organization always tries to get it right, but no one individual's going to be right 100% of time. We need communication and a common thought process to succeed. There will be times when the manager and GM disagree; "sometimes you go with one's choice, and sometimes with the other's."
ESPN: NL East is tough. What are realistic goals? What if everything broke right?
Bowden: Our goal is to improve on 81-81 and develop our young players.
ESPN: Is this team moving in right direction? There's optimism in your voice.
Bowden: Yes, I think so. But it's been a "bizarre spring . . . in all my years, I've never had such a bizarre spring like this one." Losing Ayala, Drese; WBC guys were gone; Soriano was gone, then the LF situation. Between the WBC and injuries, I've never had a spring training that was, pardon making up this word, "more unfun and more discombobulated." The last time it was like this for me, my team won division, though. So there's optimism.
As you might expect, it was a rather superficial interview; nothing about Ryan Church was forthcoming, to say the least. Both hosts were left with a sterling perception of Bowden, commenting that he has done a very good job with what he was given and under the circumstances. I got the impression, at least with Gottlieb, that some of this admiration was based on interactions during Bowden's time with ESPN.