by Ron on October 7 at 3:36PM

One of my senior advisors had some questions going into Saturday night's game, game three of the division series between the Phillies and Rockies. He wanted to know why Wes Helms started at third base in games one and two.

The Senior Advisor from the west said he understood that Helms had a decent average against game one starter Jeff Francis (however, if you look at this USA Today story on one scout's take on game one, you have to scroll way down to Best Matchup to see where the scout says Helms will have trouble with Francis).

But in game two, Helms made a mental error by not scoring from third base on an infield ground ball, and a bad defensive play that would have ended the inning before Charlie Manuel "brilliantly' pulled Kendrick. Then Kazuo Matsui's grand slam off Kyle Lohse pretty much put game two away.

But in the sixth Jose Mesa made damn sure it was and gave up three more.

Let the examinations begin.

My Senior Advisor isn't alone. 610 talk-radio was buzzing about both decisions on Thursday and Friday.

Trying to beat the Christmas rush, 610 morning motor-mouth Angelo Cataldi, who writes a column in the free commuter newspaper, the Metro, started in on Phils GM Pat Gillick last Tuesday. You can click on Gillick and read the column for yourself.

I'm not defending Charlie Manuel's decisions. Or Pat Gillick, for that matter. But as a fan I do have questions and I'm going to work on those questions for the next several weeks. Not that what I say will make any difference,  but it will for me.

My wife and I enjoyed the Phillies season very much. We went to 20 games, including the final division clincher--the best Phillies game since a 12 year old kid named Matt and his Dad drove through the pouring rain from State College to see Shilling shut out the Blue Jays at the Vet in game five--and my nephew and I stood in 'standing room only' in game two. It was a great season; I have two rally towels to prove it and I thank the Phillies organization for it. I wonder what these rally towels are going for on e-Bay?

But is Cataldi correct in saying that Pat Gillick is worthless? I mean, what's with Clay Condrey and Geoff Geary shuffling back and forth to moose country all season? Both players seem questionable major league pitchers.

And Jose Mesa? The Phillies signed Mesa on June 9th to return for $2.5 million--$26.5 short of what the Yankees paid Roger Clemens to return for--after Colorado declined a club option on Mesa for ' 07, and Detroit released him two months into the ' 07 season. But on the other hand, the Red Sox released J.C. Romero on June 19 and ten days later the Phillies purchased his minor league contract.  Be my guest and click on both Mesa and Romero and compare their numbers.  You can blame Gillick for one, then give him credit for the other.

The Phillies opening day payroll was $89,428,213, compared to the Rockies $54,424,000. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle opened the ' 07 season with a one year $800,000 contract, but in April got a two year extension. Charlie Manuel opened the season on the last year of a three year contract that paid him $800,000 in ' 07. Surely he will get an extension for at least ' 08 and maybe ' 09.

Here's something else interesting. The highest paid Phillie in ' 07 is Pat Burrell at $13 million, signed through 2008. The highest paid Rockie is Todd Helton at $16,600,000 per year, signed through 2011. MVP candidate Matt Holiday is on a one year $4.4 million contract while Jimmy Rollins is earning $7 million, signed through 2010 with a buyout in ' 11.

Holiday would certainly look better in red and white pinstripes than the black and purple he wore this year. 

Look, things could be worse. They could have given Rod Barajas a three or four year deal worth $11 million.

Let the examinations begin.

You mean some schools can separate out disruptive students?

Great article, Ron. There is a lot to think about in this Phil's organization.

One concern is this... we are probably going to lose Amaro if Gillick doesn't retire. Gillick has a knack for gutting the farm systems everywhere he's been and leaving organizations a total wreck. I'd like to see Amaro take over now and Gillick just go out to pasture. I'm hoping that Amaro didn't take the Pittsburgh job because he knew he was getting the job here. He deserves it. We need young blood and someone who doesn't waste money signing broken down, overpriced nags. I blame the Phils being swept mainly on Gillick, as if he had used his money wisely and signed durable pitchers, we would have put up a much better fight.

Manuel may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but he has the loyalty and admiration of his players. It's probably a good decision to bring him back, even if you don't agree with some of his managerial decisions.

I'm just so proud of the Phillies for making the playoffs at this point! The monkey is off their backs (somewhat).

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