09/26/2003 8:44 PM ET
Notes: Bowa disappointed
PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Larry Bowa evaluated the Phillies 2003 season on
Friday, giving the campaign mixed reviews.
Bowa was clearly upset his team couldn't reach the postseason, but he also
noted several positives from the past year.
"I don't think we underachieved," Bowa said. "[But] I'm disappointed we
didn't make the playoffs."
When asked if he thought he got as much as possible from his team this
season, Bowa responded: "We squeezed every ounce out of it."
One of the major positives he takes from the season is the emergence of
The rookie center fielder is hitting .300 with 84 runs scored, seven home
runs and 45 RBIs heading into Friday's game against the Braves.
After a slow start, Byrd caught fire at the plate. He was hitting .193
through June, but upped his average to .288 by the All-Star break. A move
from eighth to first in the batting order didn't slow down the former
Georgia Tech running back. Since moving to the leadoff spot on July 8, Byrd
has hit .315 with 61 runs scored.
Byrd ranks second among National League rookies in hits (145), doubles
(28), walks (43) and runs.
One of the major negatives of 2003 was the performance of Pat Burrell.
Coming off 37 homers, 116 RBIs and .282 average a year ago, Burrell
struggled all season. He has collected 21 homers, 64 RBIs and a paltry .208
"I just don't think he ever got comfortable," Bowa said of his
left fielder's hitting woes. "I don't think he had confidence all year."
But Bowa doesn't think Burrell's problems are long-term.
"I feel he's too good of an athlete -- too good of a hitter -- to do this
again," Bowa said.
The skipper was also somewhat disappointed in his pitching down the
"I was talking with [pitching coach] Joe [Kerrigan] and we aren't very
happy the way we finished up," Bowa said of his pitching staff. "Maybe it
was more of a mental wearing down than a physical one."
The manager also critiqued his own performance this season.
"I don't think you can ever say you did all you can when you don't reach
your goal," Bowa said. "I'll take my share of the blame."
While the manager shouldered some of this year's culpability, don't look
for a different approach from Bowa any time soon. He said his intensity is a
product of a desire to win.
"If that's bad, then that's the way it is," Bowa said. "I'm not changing my
attitude about winning. That's what I was about as a player, that's what I
was about as a coach, and that's what I'm about as a manager."
Although Bowa's not changing, he knows at least some aspects of his team
will be different next season. Some of those changes most likely will come
in the bullpen.
One reliever's future remains a question. Dan Plesac was baited out of
retirement last offseason for one final year -- and what a year it was. The
41-year-old left-hander went 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA in 33 innings. He struck
out 36, while walking 11 this year. Now, Bowa isn't sure if this was the
last go-round for Plesac.
"It's hard [to walk away from the game], especially if you're still getting
people out," the skipper said.
Changes are expected in the pen, but the starting lineup is projected to
remain the same in 2004.
Bowa said he will be looking for some different production from one of
"Ideally, we'd like Jimmy [Rollins] to hit near the top [of the order] and
move Polanco down to drive in some runs," Bowa said. "Jimmy's got to do some
things. He's got to hit and run, he's got to bunt."
Bowa is optimistic yet tempered regarding his expectations for next
"If David Bell is healthy, and we need Pat to be Pat, then we're set."
But he also hopes this season doesn't give his players any false sense of
"Some people think, we came close last year, now it's a foregone conclusion
[the team will make the playoffs]," Bowa said. "It doesn't work that way."
Philling in: Bowa said Placido Polanco, who missed sometime earlier
in September with a deep thigh bruise, will probably not play again this
year. ... Bell, who Bowa said definitely won't play again, left the team
Friday due to a death in his family. He is expected to rejoin the club on
Sunday. Bell had returned from a back injury to see limited action in
Mike Gennaria is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not
subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By Mike Gennaria / Special to MLB.com