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Phillies letting Davey Lopes walk is a big price to pay for a small salary increase


I must admit, over the last five years or so, I really haven't had many reasons to take Davey Lopes photo: Nick Wass- Associated Pressshots at the Phillies' management. They haven't given me much reason to. However, as successful as this franchise has recently been, Phillies management every now and then STILL make certain decisions that for some reason rise above my level of comprehension.

Back in the day, it's hard to imagine ANYONE in Philadelphia supporting anything associated with Davey Lopes. After all, Lopes was involved in one of the most controversial plays in Phillies' history (and possibly all-time) while playing with the Dodgers. By now you are ALL familiar with "Black Friday."  And if you think I'm talking about the day after Thanksgiving, you've come to the wrong article.

To see Phillies fans turn the other cheek and now give this man a standing ovation anytime his name has been announced at Citizens Bank Park is kind of ironic to say the least. During his time in Philly, Lopes has battled cancer, and lost his brother in a tragic fire that almost claimed the lives of his mother and sister. These are facts not gone unnoticed among the general public in this city.

But those ovations do not stem from sympathy. Fans here are smart, and they know a professional when they see one. Lopes was part of a Phillies coaching staff that turned this team from potential playoff contenders into World Series Champions along with four consecutive post season appearances. In 2010, the Philadelphia Phillies had a stolen base success rate of 84 percent. From 2007 to 2010, the team has led all of baseball in this category, with the high point coming in 2007, when they set a major league record by converting 87.9 percent of their stolen base attempts.

Expect this statistic to drop in 2011. It's been just about a week since Lopes announced he wouldn't be returning to the team next year. Rumors have Lopes in talks with the Dodgers, possibly reuniting him with his former team for which he played for a decade and appeared in four World Series with. If this does happen, Lopes' career will have come full circle.


While that makes for a feel good story, Lopes should still be here in Philly, and it's not like he wanted to leave.

The team reportedly made a good offer to retain his services, but not good enough for Lopes. Not unlike Dave Duncan (albeit in a different capacity as the Cardinals' pitching coach), Lopes had more job responsibilities than your average first base coach for the Phightins. And according to him, he wasn't trying to "break the bank." For what he brings to the team, isn't a pay increase justifiable? I obviously haven't taken a look at the Phillies' books, but did the money Lopes want really put THAT big of a dent into the projected 2011 payroll? With a current number of $146 million, apparently so. And just like that, both parties couldn't agree on a deal and Lopes is gone. If you're going to cut corners, that was not the one to cut. Something tells me Charlie Manuel is not happy about this.

Here is where the Phillies absolutely baffle me. Why would the Phillies let someone like Lopes go when he has had such an impact on this Phillies team? They are like having an awesome girlfriend whose sometimes erratic behavior really makes you scratch your head in utter confusion. Last year, it was the Cliff Lee  trade. This year, it's not retaining a coach who is extremely vital to the team's success.

Did the Phils not sell enough beer this year to afford the pay increase Lopes wanted? Was it the shortage of playoff games at the Bank this year compared to the last two seasons? I just don't get it. Who is going to give Shane Victorino a hard time for the way he runs the bases? Who is going to teach a raw but talented Domonic Brown how to potentially swipe 30 bags a year? Nobody of Lopes' caliber, that's for sure. P2P wishes Lopes the best of luck. A man who was a rather dubious figure in team history joined the team and became a World Champion with them 31 years later. Somewhere, the baseball Gods are smirking.

Like I said, it's tough to knock the Phillies for the way they've run this organization the last half decade, but something tells me they are going to pay a big price for not giving Davey Lopes a small raise.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com