These days, longtime Phillies announcer Larry Andersen only calls games on the radio when the team is playing at Citizens Bank Park.
Unfortunately, that meant the venerable broadcaster and former Phillies pitcher was in the booth to witness the team being swept by the lowly Florida Marlins for the first time since 2009, and didn’t like what he saw.
“I hate to say it, but it looked lifeless. It looked listless,” Andersen said on 94.1 WIP Monday morning. “I’d certainly like to see more energy. I’d like to see more of everything.”
Like just about every media pundit and fan in the Delaware Valley, Andersen was highly critical of manager Gabe Kapler’s decision not to bench shortstop Jean Segura or second baseman Cesar Hernandez for their lack of hustle after putting balls in play. Instead, Kapler said he “spoke to Jean” and said Hernandez’s lack of effort would be “addressed with authority.”
Andersen, who has called Phillies came since 1998, recalled that during his first year in the booth, then-Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox pulled Andrew Jones out of center field in the middle of a game after loafing on a ball. Andersen said he didn’t think Kapler should intentionally try to embarrass his players, but that something has to change to get the team out of its current slump.
“I can’t tolerate it happening over and over," Andersen said of the apparent lack of effort. “I want to see the results of some reprimands. I don’t want to hear about it being talked about, I want to see something happen at this point.”
“I think [Kapler] would get more respect if he would put his foot down," Andersen added. “Is it going to hurt you taking a good player out or one of your starters out because they’re not hustling? It might hurt you, but I think you’re going to gain more from it.”
Other critics: WIP host Angelo Cataldi has been a critic of Kapler, getting into heated debates on air with the second-year manager (who appears on the show Wednesday mornings) and repeatedly calling for the Phillies to fire him. Andersen said simply firing Kapler would turn him into a scapegoat, because it would absolve the players of responsibility for underperforming.
“Did you ever see Chase Utley hit a one-hopper right back at the pitcher and not bust it down the line?” Andersen asked. “The players have to stand up... How can you go through what they’re going through now and not have a player stand up and say, ‘Timeout. Players only. This is B.S. We’re better than this, and it’s garbage that we’re not busting our tails.’ "
Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Brookover also appeared on WIP Monday morning and said he wouldn’t have simply benched Segura after his lack of hustle, he would have immediately removed the player from the lineup entirely to send a message to the team.
“I think Gabe feels like he weakens his team if he benches him, and he’s doing a disservice to the rest of his players,” Brookover said. “Now how do you bench Cesar Hernandez when he doesn’t run, and how do you explain it to him when you do?”
Brookover said he thinks the Phillies’ biggest problem is that players simply aren’t performing up to their level of talent. Brookover also gave a simple reason why he thought Kapler wouldn’t be fired.
“If you’re [Phillies general manager] Matt Klentak, this was your guy. If I’m Matt Klentak, I have to believe that I made the right decision, and I know that’s what he believes right now,” Brookover said.