Former Phillies infielder and manager Larry Bowa was at Citizens Bank Park for a visit yesterday. CSNPhilly’s Jim Salisbury notes that there is a chance he could be back on a more permanent basis:
Bowa was a star player, a World Series-winning player, a coach and manager with the club. After all these years, he remains a Phillie at heart. And he has a close relationship with Sandberg, having mentored him when they were teammates in the Chicago Cubs’ infield. Could Bowa, still spry with his 68th birthday approaching in December, end up on Sandberg’s staff?
Nothing is guaranteed. But it’s possible. It has been talked about in the organization.
Bowa’s reputation is as a tough guy who pounds fundamentals and angers veterans. This was pretty bad when he was at the helm of a veteran-laden Phillies team in the early-to-mid 2000s. Guys like Jimmy Rollins, Bobby Abreu, Mike Lieberthal, Jim Thome and Pat Burrell were not exactly enamored with Bowa’s firm hand.
But on a Philly team in transition? With Bow not in command but, rather, as a lieutenant? If Ryne Sandberg needs a bad cop, there are many worse choices.
The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.
Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.
The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.
The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.