Curt Schilling

Bobby Abreu, Cliff Lee, Scott Rolen headline polarizing list of ex-Phillies on Hall of Fame ballot

Bobby Abreu, Cliff Lee, Scott Rolen headline polarizing list of ex-Phillies on Hall of Fame ballot

MLB's 2020 Hall of Fame ballot was released Monday and it included six former Phillies of varying degrees of popularity. In fact, it's hard to even say which of the six is the most beloved in Philly. 

Bobby Abreu
Raul Ibanez
Cliff Lee
Scott Rolen
Curt Schilling
Billy Wagner

• At first glance, you might say Lee. He had great moments with the Phillies, memorable playoff games, and that low-key swag that drew fans to him. But things ended in a clunky way when he came back the second time. An elbow injury caused Lee to miss the final 1½ years of his contract and he was pretty much invisible during that time. He was also noticeably absent when the 2009 NL Championship team got together at Citizens Bank Park this past summer. The answer is still probably Lee, but it was a sour end for plenty of folks.

• Abreu is very well-respected around the game for being an ahead-of-his-time player with gaudy, well-rounded stats, but he was and still is polarizing around here. A portion of the fan base will always look at Abreu as an overrated compiler who was scared of walls. The other portion — it may be an even 50-50 split these days — appreciates the player Abreu was and realizes he'd be worth $200 million today.

• Phillies fans haven't forgotten Rolen's elite defense. Rolen was truly one of the best defensive third basemen of all time. But he orchestrated his way out of here and that is remembered equally, if not more so. 

• Schilling ... not delving into that one beyond an acknowledgment that his playoff performances were legendary, he had four excellent seasons and his post-playing career has been very strange.

• Ibañez was well-liked here and everywhere else he played. He may manage in the majors some day soon. He had an incredible first half in 2009, his first year with the Phillies, then was just slightly above average the rest of his three-year career with them.

• Phillies fans don't feel especially attached to Wagner, who was great here but lasted only two seasons. Unlike the other five on the list, Wagner should be in the Hall of Fame, in my opinion. Wagner was a more dominant reliever than Trevor Hoffman or Lee Smith. He had six seasons with an ERA under 2.00. He saved 422 games. He could have hung around for three more seasons to hit the arbitrary number of 500, which would have made him a Hall of Famer. Instead, Wagner retired on his terms after posting a 1.43 ERA for the Braves in 2010.

It will be interesting to see whether Abreu, a first-time candidate, gets the groundswell of support we've seen in recent years with players like Tim Raines.

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Curt Schilling would love to have been Gabe Kapler's pitching coach

Curt Schilling would love to have been Gabe Kapler's pitching coach

Leave it to Curt Schilling to come up with the line of the day as the Phillies celebrated the 25th anniversary of their 1993 National League Championship on Sunday.

The boys on that team played hard, on and off the field. They got into some trouble then … and some of them continue to do so now.

“That team today,” Schilling said, “we’d have to play our home games at Leavenworth and wear ankle bracelets on the road to travel. That was as politically incorrect a group of human beings that’s ever existed in the game. And it was fun.”

Lenny Dykstra was one of the stars of that 1993 team. He was not invited to the celebration because the team believed his post-career scrapes with the law would have been a distraction. Dykstra did not protest the team’s decision. Mitch Williams declined the team’s invite. Darren Daulton, the undisputed leader of the club, died last summer. He was preceded in death by manager Jim Fregosi and beloved coaches John Vukovich and Johnny Podres.

“It’s tough not to have everybody here,” Schilling said. “It’s tough not to have Dutch and the coaches. Life moves at a very unique pace when you look back on it. Unfortunately for Lenny … I’ve actually been in contact with him quite a bit in the past couple months and years. He’s still struggling. He’s battling. He’s had issues and he’s probably the first to take accountability for those things. It’s unfortunate, but it’s more proof that we’re not really different than anybody else other than what our day jobs were.”

Schilling said losing the 1993 World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays on Joe Carter’s famous home run did not leave a void in his career. (Of course, he went on to win three World Series rings with Arizona and Boston.)

“I never looked at it as a void,” he said. “I looked at it as I was part of something. I had the privilege of being involved in three of the most amazing postseasons in baseball history, ‘93 with Joe Carter, ‘01 with the Yankees and (Diamondbacks) and ‘04 with the Red Sox. I don’t use words like ‘void’ because there’s something in everything. It sucked (that the Phillies lost in 1993) but I got to witness one of the greatest moments in the history of the game.

“If you look back at that Blue Jays team, that was a ridiculously good team. I still think we should have won that World Series. I really do. They earned it, but I think the 15-14 game (Game 4) was a backbreaker for us. But what an amazing experience.”

Schilling was a backbone starting pitcher on the Red Sox team that snapped an 86-year World Series drought with a title in 2004.

Gabe Kapler, the first-year Phillies manager, was also on that team.

Schilling and Kapler are still close. They stay in touch via text. They talk ball. They spoke at length on Saturday.

As always, Schilling was frank in discussing Kapler. He brought up the manager’s decision to remove a cruising Aaron Nola from his opening day start at 68 pitches. Kapler has eased up on his pitching moves since then.

“He was a great teammate,” Schilling said of Kapler. “A phenomenal teammate, a consummate teammate, a workaholic. I’ve been texting him all year, just been in his ear a little bit, trying to find out from my side what it’s like, what he’s going through and stuff like that. The thing I told people after opening day — I was laughing because I’m a pitcher. So I was offended when he was taking his pitcher out after five or six innings. But he’s not going to make the same mistakes twice. I think that’s a huge thing. He’s accountable.

“There’s some (Terry) Francona in him from a manager perspective. Terry used to say you’re fired the day you’re hired. They just don’t put that date on your contract. So if you know that going in, you do things your way, which I think Kap is doing. He’s a sponge. He’s always looking for something different and something new. He’s very much on the analytics side of everything and I think he’ll find that middle ground at some point, where every decision won’t be based on exactly what the numbers tell you what you should do in this situation because there’s a gut feel to it and I think it takes time.”

Schilling said he wants to get into coaching.

Would he be interested in donning the red pinstripes again?

“Absolutely,” he said. “This is one of the few jobs in the big leagues I would have taken.”

MLB Notes: Curt Schilling's video game company settles lawsuit for $16 million

MLB Notes: Curt Schilling's video game company settles lawsuit for $16 million

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A judge has approved a $16 million settlement, ending the lawsuit over Rhode Island's failed $75 million deal with former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's video game company.

Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein heard Friday from the state economic development agency and the state's financial adviser on the deal.

38 Studios moved from Massachusetts to Rhode Island in 2010 in exchange for a $75 million loan guarantee, then went bankrupt.

Combined settlements in the case total about $61 million. The state's lawyer says it was "worthwhile."

Still pending is a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit against Wells Fargo and the economic development agency, accusing them of making misleading statements about bonds used to fund the deal.

A tentative settlement agreement with the economic development agency awaits SEC approval.

Marlins: Joshua Kushner may buy Marlins
MIAMI - The Kushner family, which already has close ties to the White House, may soon join Major League Baseball.

Joshua Kushner, whose older brother is an adviser to President Trump, has a preliminary agreement to buy the Miami Marlins for about $1.6 billion, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations said Friday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Marlins and owner Jeffrey Loria have not commented publicly on negotiations.

The preliminary agreement preceded due diligence by Kushner, the person said, adding the final offer could be much lower than $1.6 billion. Other parties are also interested in buying the Marlins, and Loria might reopen negotiations with them.

Kushner, 31, is a New York City businessman and investor and part of the real estate family that also includes Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law and an adviser to the president. Joshua is Jared's younger brother (see full story).

Pirates: Team acquires infielder Gosselin from Diamondbacks
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates bolstered their infield depth on Friday, acquiring Phil Gosselin from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league pitcher Frank Duncan.

The 28-year-old Gosselin hit .277 with 12 doubles, two home runs and 13 RBI in 122 games for Arizona in 2016. He led the majors in both pinch hit appearances (83) and pinch hits (20) last season. Both numbers set new club records.

Gosselin can move around defensively, an asset the Pirates need after versatile Sean Rodriguez left for Atlanta in free agency. Gosselin made 35 appearances at second base, 10 at third base, six at first and three more in the outfield.

Gosselin is a career .283 hitter across four seasons with Atlanta and Arizona.

The 25-year-old Duncan, a right-handed starter, went 9-6 with a 2.33 ERA for Triple-A Indianapolis last season.