Tag Archives: Bobby Cox

The two Phillies skippers to win Manager of the Year may surprise you

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Ozark was the first, and is one of just two Phillies managers to ever take home Manager of the Year honors

 

On Tuesday evening the 2019 Major League Baseball Manager of the Year Awards for the National and American Leagues will be announced.

As with Monday’s announcement of the Rookies of the Year, honorees were first named on social media by the IBWAA for their organization. That will be followed by a televised announcement on MLB Network at 6:00 pm EST for the Manager of the Year as chosen by the BBWAA.

The voters from the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America handed their honors out to Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves in the National League and Rocco Baldelli of the Minnesota Twins for the American League.

Finalists for this year’s BBWAA award in the National League are Craig Counsell of the Milwaukee Brewers, Mike Shildt of the Saint Louis Cardinals, and Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves.

My choice among these candidates would be Shildt. Prior to the season, most prognosticators had his Cardinals finishing behind the Brewers and Chicago Cubs. But the Cards won their first NL Central Division crown since 2015, turning last year’s worst defense in the NL into the league’s best.

While Shildt would be my pick among those finalists, he would not be my actual pick. I believe that Dave Martinez of the world champion Washington Nationals deserves the honor – and it has little to do with his club winning the first World Series in franchise history.

The Nationals were a dozen games below the .500 mark and sitting in fourth place in the NL East Division as May wound towards a close. Rather than throw in the towel, Martinez kept his team positive and focused. The Nats had the best record in the National League from that point to the end of the season.

Over in the American League, the finalists are Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees, Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Rocco Baldelli of the Minnesota Twins.

A great case can be made for any of these men, as well as Oakland A’s skipper Bob Melvin. But my choice would be Baldelli. While the Twins were considered a possible playoff team entering the season, few saw them winning 101 games and capturing the AL Central crown in nearly wire-to-wire fashion.

The first recognized honors in this category were The Sporting News Manager of the Year Award, established in 1936. From that year through 1985, one winner for all of Major League Baseball was announced. Since 1986, The Sporting News has handed out honors in both the American and National Leagues.

The  Baseball Writers Association of America began honoring a Manager of the Year for both leagues with the 1983 season. Each member of a 30-member committee of the BBWAA submits a ballot listing a first, second, and third place finisher among the managers of each league. The manager with the highest score in each league wins the award.

Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa have won the BBWAA award four times, more than any other manager in history. Jim Leyland is the only skipper to be named Manager of the Year four times by The Sporting News.

The Phillies new manager Joe Girardi is the only person to be named as the BBWAA Manager of the Year while piloting a losing club. Girardi took those honors for keeping the 2006 Florida Marlins in the Wildcard playoff hunt until the season’s final weeks, despite working with the game’s lowest payroll.

Yesterday, I wrote about the four players who won the Rookie of the Year Award as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. Today, we’ll look at the history of the club in Manager of the Year Award voting.

It’s not much of a history, mind you. Only one manager of the club has ever taken the award as handed out by the BBWAA. And that manager was not either of the men who guided the Phillies to World Series glory. He was also honored in the same year by The Sporting News, which has named just one other Phillies manager as a winner of their award.

As I said earlier, the BBWAA award did not begin until 1983, so Dallas Green obviously would not have a plaque on his shelf for that 1980 championship. That year, The Sporting News chose to honor Bill Virdon of the Houston Astros, whose team the Phillies defeated in the NLCS, as their NL Manager of the Year.

And after guiding the Phillies to a second consecutive NL East crown and the 2008 World Series championship, Charlie Manuel finished as the runner-up to Lou Piniella of the Chicago Cubs in that year’s BBWAA voting.

Manuel would lead the Phillies to five consecutive NL East crowns, but never was awarded the Manager of the Year by the BBWAA or The Sporting News. Not even in 2007, when an underdog Phillies team rallied from seven games back on September 12 to capture their first division title in 14 years.

Manuel finished second to Bob Melvin of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2007 BBWAA voting. With his team established as favorites, ‘Uncle Charlie’ would finish just 6th in 2009, 5th in 2010, and 4th in 2011. That last was after guiding the Phillies to a 102-win season, the most regular season victories in franchise history.

Despite leading the “Whiz Kids” to a surprise National League pennant in 1950, manager Eddie Sawyer was passed over by The Sporting News in favor of Detroit Tigers skipper Red Rolfe, whose club had finished as the American League runners-up to the New York Yankees that year.

Paul Owens guided the Phillies “Wheeze Kids” to a 1983 NL pennant, but The Sporting News honors that year went to Tony La Russa, who had led the Chicago White Sox to a 99-win season and the AL West Division title in his first year as manager. In their first season giving out an award that year, the BBWAA handed the honors to the manager of the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda.

A decade later, Jim Fregosi skippered the ‘Macho Row’ Phillies to a stunning NL East crown in a wire-to-wire performance, then on to a National League pennant. But Fregosi finished a close runner-up to Dusty Baker of the San Francisco Giants, whose club had won 103 games but finished as runners-up in the NL West. The Sporting News gave their award to Bobby Cox of the NL West champion Atlanta Braves.

So, which Phillies managers have been recognized as the Manager of the Year?

The first was Danny Ozark, who The Sporting News named as their winner after he guided the Phillies to the first of three consecutive National League East Division titles in the 1976 season.

It would then be a quarter-century until a second Phillies skipper was so honored. For leading the club to a second place finish in the NL East in 2001, Larry Bowa won the Manager of the Year Award from both The Sporting News and the BBWAA.

That’s it, Ozark and Bowa, the only two men to ever be named as the Manager of the Year with the Phillies. The hope now is that Girardi can put a second career Manager of the Year award in his trophy case and on his resume’ as soon as next year at this time.

 

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Philography: Dick Ruthven

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Ruthven was a starter, but in a relief appearance he closed out the 1980 NLCS victory in Houston (pictured)

The Philadelphia Phillies grew from frustrating losers to frustrated winners, and finally to World Series champions during the period from the early 1970’s to the early 1980’s.

The career of Dick Ruthven, both in and out of Philly, can be described in much the same way.
After being named to the college baseball All-America team at Fresno, Ruthven was the Phillies pick at the first overall slot in the secondary phase of the 1973 January MLB Draft. He went straight to the Major Leagues, inserted immediately into a Phillies starting rotation that was desperate for talent.
The previous season of 1972, the Phillies had finished in last place in the National League East Division. Of the club’s 59 victories, 27 of them had come from lefty Steve Carlton all by himself. No other starting pitcher had won more than 4 games.
Ruthven’s first start didn’t go well, as the Montreal Expos knocked him out in the 2nd inning after tagging the 21-year old for 4 earned runs and 5 hits. He also walked 2 and struck out nobody. It would get better, and fairly quickly.
Over his next four starts, he went at least 7 innings each time. In his 3rd start on April 28th at Cincinnati, Ruthven earned his first victory in a 1-0 masterpiece at Riverfront Stadium. In 7 innings he dominated the Reds, allowing just 1 hit while striking out 8 and walking 2.
There were two more personal highlights for Ruthven during the 1973 season. He recorded his first Complete Game on July 1st in a 1-0, 2-hitter at Saint Louis which was also his first career Shutout. And on July 20th in Atlanta, Ruthven came on to register the final out of a 6-4 Phillies victory, recording his first career Save in the process.
The Phillies again finished in last place during that 1973 season, but they improved from 59 up to 71 wins, and went from finishing 37 1/2 games off the first place pace in ’72 to just 11 1/2 back to finish the 1973 campaign.
From 1973 through 1975, Ruthven appeared in 71 games and made 65 starts. He fashioned a 17-24 record, and allowed just 344 hits in 377.1 innings pitched. In ’74 alone he had what would be a career-high 153 strikeouts.
The team again improved, to 80-82 and just 8 games back in ’74, and then to a winning record at 86-76 and just 6 1/2 games behind in ’75.
Ruthven lost much of that 1975 season to injury. He pitched most of the year during his first-ever stint in the minor leagues on a rehab assignment, and didn’t get back to the Phils until August. Overall he was limited to 11 appearances and 7 starts for the team down the stretch that year.
Finally, the Phils kicked down the door and won the NL East in both 1976 and 1977. In both seasons the club set a franchise record by winning 101 games. But Dick Ruthven wasn’t around to enjoy either of those tremendous seasons.
In a dizzying span over 3 days in December of 1975, Ruthven had been traded – twice. First, the Phils sent him to the Chicago White Sox along with the 1973 January Draft’s 1st overall pick, shortstop Alan Bannister, in a deal that yielded veteran lefty starting pitcher Jim Kaat.
Ruthven would never spend a day in the Windy City, only lasting even one full day on the White Sox roster. Two days after being acquired from the Phillies, the Chisox sent him on to the Atlanta Braves in a deal that included outfielder Ralph Garr coming back to Chicago.
In his first season away from Philly, Ruthven became an All-Star for the first time. He went 10-8 with a 3.26 ERA in 129.2 pre-break innings for the Braves. But the season began to crumble thereafter. Ruthven went just 4-9 after the All-Star break, with his ERA ballooning to 5.29 over that span.
A big part of Ruthven’s problem was emotional. He had learned that during Spring Training that year with the Braves, the team owner, wealthy cable TV and publishing magnate Ted Turner, had made a pass at Ruthven’s wife, Sue. When confronted, Turner claimed it was only “playful” in nature.
As told to Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Frank Dolson at the time, Ruthven was offered an apology by Turner. Ruthven told the owner to apologize to his wife instead. Turner did so, but according to Ruthven, the owner chose to make the incident public by “apologizing in front of about 20 people at the Stadium Club.”
Dick Ruthven Braves
Ruthven’s relationship with Turner, and thus the Braves organization, was irreparably damaged by the incident, and he demanded a trade. “I told the manager. I told the general manager. I told opposing teams” said Ruthven in regards to his trade wishes.
A trade would not come for a year and a half. Through 1977 and into early 1978, Ruthven remained miserable, continued to publicly and privately ask for a trade, and performed poorly on the field.
In 1977 he went 7-13 with a career-high 4.23 ERA in just 23 starts. He had a terrible 84-62 K/BB ratio. The fact that the Phillies had become a power in the National League in his absence didn’t help. Ruthven began 1978 still unhappy, and was pitching poorly again, going just 2-6 through his first 13 outings.
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox spoke after a Braves game in Philly: “What he’d really like is to come here, with the Phillies. And if we could get something that would really help us, we would do it. But he’s a pretty good pitcher, and we aren’t going to give him away. We would have to get something for him.
The right deal finally came along. On June 14th, the Phillies acquired former Reds closer Rawly Eastwick from Cincy in a trade. A day later, with their bullpen now shored up in preparation for just this move, the Phils sent closer Gene Garber to Atlanta in exchange for Ruthven.
The trade immediately turned around Dick Ruthven’s entire outlook, and breathed renewed life into his career. The now 27-year old went 13-5 with a 2.99 ERA over 150.2 innings for the Phils, and helped the club win its 3rd straight NL East crown, the first in which he was able take part in celebrating.
In the NLCS, the Phillies would face the Los Angeles Dodgers in a rematch of the 1977 NLCS which many felt the more talented Phils had simply blown. But the outcome would prove the same in 1978. Ruthven started Game 2, and was beaten by the Dodgers, lasting just 5 innings in a 4-0 defeat. LA would again win the series in 4 games.
When 1979 opened, Ruthven and the Phillies were hot, and seemed on their way to yet another big season. Ruthven began the year 6-0 with a 1.65 ERA through early May. The team was in first place as late as May 27th. But then injuries struck Ruthven and a number of other players.
Ruthven tried to pitch through his injury troubles, but was limited to just 9 more starts after May. His season officially ended in early August. The Phils also lost starter Larry Christenson at the start, got him back in May, but then lost him for most of the season after June. Aging veterans Kaat and Jim Lonborg had become ineffective and were released in May.
The starting pitching troubles combined with injury-plagued seasons to catcher Bob Boone and 2nd baseman Manny Trillo, and down years from veterans Greg Luzinski and Larry Bowa, to undermine the once-promising 1979. The team fell behind, managed to stay in the race until early August, but then totally collapsed.
The 1979 Phillies finished with a winning record at 84-78, but they also finished in 4th place in the division, a full 14 games behind the eventual division champion Pittsburgh Pirates. Adding insult to injury, the in-state rival Bucs would go on to win the World Series, something that had eluded the Phils during their run atop the division.
The collapse cost longtime manager Danny Ozark his job. The amiable ‘Wizard of Oze” was replaced in the manager’s office by organizational man and firebrand Dallas Green, who immediately set about the task of trying to light a fire under what he saw as a complacent, comfortable team.
In 1980 it would finally all come together for the Phillies. The team reclaimed the NL East crown, thanks largely to an inspired final week of play, including a final showdown weekend in Montreal. Ruthven contributed a strong bounce-back campaign. He proved to be the perfect #2 rotation compliment to ace Steve Carlton by going 17-10 with a 3.55 ERA, and proving his health by tossing 231.2 innings.
In the postseason, both Ruthven and the Phils set about the task of shaking the ‘choker’ label. The righty again started Game 2, just as he had in ’78, and again lost. But this time he had pitched 7 strong innings, leaving with the score tied at 2-2. The Astros would score 4 runs in the top of the 10th to win 7-4 and even the best-of-5 series at a game apiece.
Ruthven would not make another start in what would prove in many eyes to be the greatest NLCS in history. The two teams battled into extra innings in each of the final four games. The Phillies appeared dead a couple of times in both Game 4 and 5, but rallied each time.
In that 5th and decisive game, the Phils rallied from a 5-2 deficit in the 8th inning to take a 7-5 lead, but the Astros answered with a pair to tie it at 7-7 and again send it to extras. The Phillies scored a run to take an 8-7 lead, and having already burned through his top relief options, manager Green turned to Ruthven to try to close out the game.
Ruthven got pinch-hitter Danny Heep to lead off with a pop-out to Bowa at shortstop on a 2-2 pitch for the first out. Then he caught the dangerous Terry Puhl guessing on a first-pitch, getting him to line out to centerfielder Garry Maddox for the 2nd out.

Veteran 3rd baseman Enos Cabell was the only player standing between the Phillies and the franchise’ first World Series berth in 30 years. Ruthven battled him to a full count. Then on the 6th pitch, Cabell caught a pitch off the end of his bat, flaring a punch-shot to center field. Maddox charged, cradled the ball for the 3rd out, and the celebration began.

Dick Ruthven, a Phillies homegrown draftee over 7 years earlier, had left town, but had always wanted a return. He fought for and finally got that return to his first team. And now here he was, earning the Win as he closed out the most dramatic playoff series to that point in Phils history.

In the World Series against Kansas City, Ruthven was again frustrated. He got the start for Game 3 in Kansas City with the Phils up 2-0 and looking to take a strangle-hold on the Series.

Ruthven pitched a gem, striking out 7 and walking none over 9 full innings. But the game was tied 3-3, and he was pulled. The Royals would win in the bottom of the 10th.

That excellent outing was Dick Ruthven’s only appearance in the 1980 World Series. Four nights later, the Phillies would win in Game 6 at Veteran’s Stadium.

Ruthven would join in the on-field celebration, the post-game locker room champagne showers, and the celebratory parade down Broad Street.Dick Ruthven would pitch two more full seasons in Philadelphia. 

Ruthven would join in the on-field celebration, the post-game locker room champagne showers, and the celebratory parade down Broad Street.Dick Ruthven would pitch two more full seasons in Philadelphia.

He went 12-7 in the 1981 work stoppage season, making his 2nd and final NL All-Star team. He then took the loss in Game 2 of the 1981 NLDS vs Montreal, his final career postseason appearance.

In 1982 he went 11-11 for a Phillies team that was in first place for much of July and the first-half of August, and again as late as mid-September. But losses in 11 of 16 games left them in second place at the end, a tantalizing three games out of another division crown.

In 1983, the Phillies would return to the World Series, but Ruthven wouldn’t get to be a part of that October run. On May 22nd he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for reliever Willie Hernandez. It would prove a good deal for both teams, as Hernandez would pitch in 63 games, saving the Phils bullpen. Ruthven would go 12-9 in Chicago.

The 1984 season would prove to be the beginning of the end of Ruthven’s career. It started out well as he gained the victory as the Cubs starter on Opening Day. It would end in near-glory, with the Cubbies winning the NL East. However, Ruthven had become ineffective during the course of the season, so much that he would not appear in the NLCS loss to San Diego.
After struggling through a full 1985 season, Ruthven was finally released by the Cubs in May of 1986 at age 35. He finished his career with an overall 123-127 record and a 4.14 ERA compiled over 2,109 innings pitched.
In retirement, Dick Ruthven settled in to live Alpharetta, Georgia, where he and Sue raised their 3 sons. He founded Ruthven Construction, and received numerous awards for quality and customer satisfaction in home building, including the OBIE, the premier home-building industry honor in the Atlanta area.
Dick Ruthven retirement
Today, Ruthven is the owner and CEO of Access Management Group, focusing these days on the company’s IT operations, and using his industry experience to position them in a leadership position in the Atlanta land market. (Twitter: @accessmgtgroup)
Despite what seem like mediocre career numbers, Dick Ruthven’s contributions to the Philadelphia Phillies were pivotal to their late-70’s and early-80’s success. In Philadelphia, Ruthven’s record was 78-65 with a 4.00 ERA in over 1,200 innings, including vital contributions to a world championship team.
On the all-time leaderboard, Ruthven is tied for 17th in Wins (78), 10th in Starts (198), tied for 15th in Strikeouts (717), 20th in Innings (1,262.2) and 48th in Games (208) among all pitchers who ever towed the mound for the Fightin’ Phils.
A talented righty who loved his time here in Philly, Dick Ruthven’s contributions are often overlooked, but nonetheless vital, to the first World Series championship in franchise history. He is remembered fondly by all Phillies fans of that time, and deserves to have his career known and remembered by all fans of the team of any generation.

MLB 2010: National League

In nearly every major publication and from most every prognosticator you will find that the 3-time defending NL East winning, 2-time defending National League champion, and back-to-back World Series participant Philadelphia Phillies are considered the odds-on favorites to repeat at least where that eastern crown is concerned.

In fact, many have them again winning the NL pennant and advancing back to the Series, some predicting they will win.

An admitted lifelong Phillies fan, this absolutely prejudiced observer is calling it that way. Phillies to win their 4th straight NL East crown, 3rd straight National League pennant, and then a 2nd World Series title in 3 years.

Did you expect anything else from me under the current circumstances? However, it will be a struggle, there will be highs and lows, they will be pushed. I will cover the Phillies specifically in detail in my next article here in the coming days.

In that NL East race, the team that will push the Phillies the most this year will be…the Atlanta Braves. In fact, some might even find a reason to pick Atlanta to Tomahawk Chop their way back to the top of the division and unseat the Fightin’s from their lofty perch.

Atlanta’s rotation of Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson & Kenshin Kawakami is talented and deep. The lineup is led by declining veteran and future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones and perhaps the best offensive catcher in the NL in Brian McCann.

However, the biggest reason that the Braves will challenge the Phils will be the play of tremendous rookie right fielder Jason Heyward. If you haven’t heard of him yet, you will, and soon. Bobby Cox has a strong bullpen as well, and in his final season as manager he should push for a playoff spot.

The Florida Marlins have a superstar and NL MVP candidate in shortstop Hanley Ramirez, a pair of exciting young outfielders in Chris Coghlan and Cameron Maybin, a slugging 2nd baseman in Dan Uggla, and a pair of strong starting pitchers in Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco. But they lack the overall roster depth to beat out either the Phils or the Braves. The New York Mets are not as deep or dangerous as in previous seasons, and are once again battling injury. The starting pitching behind Johan Santana is just not deep or talented enough either. They should be good enough to stay ahead of the Washington Nationals, but maybe just for one more season. Once Nats uber-prospect starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg arrives this summer, he may help vault them past New York.

In the NL Central the safe and sexy pick are the St. Louis Cardinals. The best hitter on the planet, Albert Pujols, will now be joined for a full season by the support of star outfielder Matt Holliday. Those two and the 1-2 rotation punch of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are formidable, but I don’t think it’s going to all be enough to repeat at the top of the division. I like the Cards to slip to 2nd place behind the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brew Crew will be led by a pair of genuine MVP candidates of their own in Ryan Braun (pictured) and Prince Fielder. Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf will give them a strong 1-2 rotation punch. I’m calling this a very close race, with an MVP season from Braun providing the difference for the Brewers.

Behind those two top central dogs, I’ll call the order: Cincinnati, Chicago, Houston and Pittsburgh. The Reds, like their AL Central and Ohio brothers in Cleveland, have ‘dark horse’ contender written all over them. If their rotation stays healthy, and if young bats Joey Votto and Jay Bruce produce to their potential, the Reds could surprise and push the top two. The Cubs look like aging underachievers to me, though ace Carlos Zambrano appears to be in shape and motivated. The Astros have talent, especially in it’s lineup with Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman, Hunter Pence, and Michael Bourn, but it is fragile. The Pirates are still just too young, though outfielder Andrew McCutchen will prove one of baseball’s most exciting players.

In the NL West, I am looking at perhaps the closest 1-3 race in the league. The Rockies, Dodgers, and Giants (I’ll call the finish in that order, since I have to make a prediction) can all win the division here with the right answers to their respective questions. For Colorado, are the young bats at the top of the order in Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler for real? For the LA Dodgers, can Manny Ramirez still be a Hall of Fame offensive force in the middle of the order? In San Fran, can they manufacture enough offense to support what is perhaps the best pitching in the division? In fact, the Arizona Diamondbacks have the roster talent to join this group and make it a 4-team race, but only if they can get ace Brandon Webb healthy early and keep him healthy all year.

I think that the Rockies kids are indeed for real, and that the club will find enough pitching led by starter Ubaldo Jimenez to win the division. The Dodgers will find that Mannywood is shutting down, and that the star slugger will both decline in production and prove to be a disruptive presence in the clubhouse. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Brian Wilson lead a strong and deep Giants’ staff, but the ‘Kung Fu Panda’, Pablo Sandoval, will not have enough offensive help for the team to push past the top two clubs.

The health issue will prove to much for Arizona, despite the presence of one of the game’s emerging superstars in outfielder Justin Upton. The San Diego Padres will pull up the rear out west, with the biggest item there all season being when, to where, and for what will they trade stud 1st baseman and pending free agent Adrian Gonzalez.

In the playoffs, I think that the Phillies and Brewers will advance to meet one another in the NLCS, repeating their matchup from the 2008 Divisional playoff round which the Phils won by a 3 games to 1 count. I think that the Phils offense will wear down and overwhelm the Brewers pitching, putting Philly into the World Series for the 3rd consecutive season. This would mark the first time since the Stan Musial-led St. Louis Cardinals of 1942-44 that a team from the Senior Curcuit went to 3 straight World Series appearances.

In that World Series, I am going to pick, oh, I don’t know, how about those Phillies to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in a rematch of their 2008 battle. This one could be much closer. The Rays starting pitching is better now, but so is the Phillies. The Rays offense is more experienced now, but then so are the Phillies players. I am  going to give the World Series nod to the combination of Ray Halladay and Cole Hamels, with the Phillies taking it in the full 7-game limit. Another parade down Broad Street for the Fightin’ Phils and their fans in early November of 2010.

Picks for the National League award winners are Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers outfield stud, as the NL Most Valuable Player. The Cy Young Award will go to the Phillies big acquisition, ace righthander Roy Halladay. I will pick outfielder Jason Heyward of the Braves to begin a long and storied career with a Rookie of the Year Award in 2010. However, Heyward will be seriously pushed for that award by starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, taking the honor only because Strasburg will start out with a few weeks in the  minor leagues.