Rumors of potential trades and free agent acquisitions makes each major league off-season intriguing. But, the Philadelphia Phillies first order of business this year offers a new question: Will they actually 'reacquire' a pitcher who hasn't thrown from the mound since 1996?
Roger McDowell was obtained, along with Lenny Dykstra and Tom Edens, as a player to be named later, by the Phillies for Juan Samuel on June 18, 1989. Two summers later 'Jolly Roger', ever the prankster during his bullpen days, was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers. His 12-year playing career lasted through 1996 with the Baltimore Orioles.
The 159 career saves (44 of which came in red pinstripes) that McDowell earned surprised no one, because his 'stuff' and light-hearted personality made him an effective reliever. His subsequent performance as the Atlanta Braves pitching coach (after assuming the legendary Leo Mazzone's role in 2006) has turned heads.
Former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee, who might swap jobs with McDowell to become the Braves new mound leader, fell out of favor in Philadelphia after two non-playoff seasons. But, any review of Dubee's last two years must be balanced by the talent that was on those rosters.
McDowell's expertise, or potential, isn't being questioned. The caliber of available arms he would inherit if he's hired by Ruben Amaro, Jr. will be quite different than what was available in Atlanta.
If rumor becomes reality, McDowell will likely need to rely on his famous jolly nature for quite awhile.