Pat Burrell

Pat The Bat Lately Living Up To Moniker

Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell probably doesn't want to see that happen, but his numbers prove otherwise with the recent added pressure to perform. As All-Star second baseman Chase Utley and starting right fielder Shane Victorino remain on the disabled list, Burrell has stepped into the spotlight with a consistent bat to compliment slugger Ryan Howard in the lineup.

Burrell entered Tuesday's game versus Florida on a roll, having recorded a .450 batting average with eight homers and 25 runs batted in through his previous 26 games. He was also riding a 14-game hitting streak in which he hit .465 with five homers and 13 RBI.

Despite all the recent success, Burrell is labeled as an inconsistent player who swings at bad pitches and pops out on a regular basis. In Tuesday's 11-1 pounding of the Marlins, Burrell's hitting streak came to a halt after he finished 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts. However, he currently leads all major league players with a .407 batting average since July 1.

Burrell's bat is back

It was such a remarkable turnaround that Pat Burrell jumped from sixth to third in the Phillies' lineup.

He had not hit third since 2002.

"Everything is the same," Burrell insisted over the weekend in Milwaukee. "I'm just not missing. I think it has more to do with . . . you're always going to get pitches to hit. It's a matter of what you do with them: Foul them off. Pop them up. I'm just hitting the ball hard. I'm just getting hits. I feel better, but you always feel better when you're doing good."

So there's really nothing different?

"No," he said. "Check the films."

Pat Burrell Update

At Philadelphia, Pat Burrell homered and had three RBIs and Jamie Moyer allowed one run in seven innings in Philadelphia's rain-shortened win over Pittsburgh.

The Phillies learned before the seven-inning victory that Chase Utley, their All-Star second baseman, could miss three-to-four weeks after undergoing surgery to have a pin placed in his broken right hand. Utley was hit by a pitch on Thursday.

The game was called after a 61-minute delay following the seventh inning.

Burrell homered in a six-run third when the Phillies sent 12 batters to the plate. Michael Bourn had hits in each of the first three innings and went 4-for-4. Greg Dobbs drove in two runs.

Ronny Paulino had three hits and an RBI for the Pirates.


Pat burrell Update

The resurgent Pat Burrell (.452/.571/.871 in 40 July plate appearances) hit the 200th homer of his career. He's now seventh on the team's all-time HR list, and a scant week after multiple calls for his outright release Burrell has his season OPS up to .826.


Pat Burrell Update

Pat Burrell: On the Top 10 leaderboard, his name isn't listed. But guess who is No. 11 in the NL in on-base percentage? Pat Burrell, who is getting on base more than Lance Berkman, Jose Reyes or Matt Holliday, a current MVP contender. Hard to fathom for a guy who hit .129 in June. But check the walks: Burrell has already drawn 62 base on balls, which puts him on pace to shatter his career high of 98 in 2005.

Burrell should still be on his way out, though who knows if general manager Pat Gillick can get anyone to take him. Yet for all the flak he's gotten this year, he has hardly been a black hole in the lineup (though he hasn't been a source of power either, the same charges levied against Bobby Abreu in the past for taking too many walks). And with Burrell hitting .458 this month, there just might be signs of life.


Pat's bat showing some signs of life

LOS ANGELES - In June, last night's game was exactly the kind that Pat Burrell would be watching from the bench.

Burrell was 3-for-18 against Dodgers ace Brad Penny, dating back through 2003.

Burrell slumped mightily from June 8 through the month's end: 4-for-41 - that's .098 - with one homer and six RBI. After a 2-for-22 skid from June 8-16, Phillies games largely became a spectator sport for Burrell. He was benched for nine of 13 games. He finished June hitting .203 for the season.

Then came July and, with it, a fresh chance from manager Charlie Manuel. Burrell responded: 11-for-24, three homers, 10 RBI entering last night, when Burrell started for the ninth time in 12 games and for the fifth game in a row.

Burrell looks to have found stroke

PHILADELPHIA -- As he walked to the dugout after being lifted for a pinch-runner in the sixth inning Saturday, Pat Burrell earned a warm ovation from a sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park.

That's what three hits and four RBIs will get you.

The maligned Phillies left fielder continued to break out of his 212-month slump by going 3-for-3 with a two-run double in the fifth and a two-run single in the sixth, raising his average 10 points to .227.

In his past seven games, Burrell is 10-for-19 (.526) with three homers and 10 RBIs and has hiked his average from a season-low .201.

"He's not a .200 hitter," right fielder Shane Victorino said. "Everyone in their right mind would wait for him to come around. Right now, he's turning his season around."

Time to send Burrell packing

Turns out, there are a few members of the Phillies' ownership group who are not, in fact, invisible, and one of them was walking down a hallway in Citizens Bank Park not long ago.

Suddenly, David Montgomery stopped when asked a question about the team's payroll, incredulous at the suggestion the Phillies don't do all they can in pursuit of a championship.

“Freddy was not adding to the payroll?” said Montgomery, the team president.

He was talking, of course, about the $10 million the Phillies will pay pitcher Freddy Garcia this season to do two things: pitch poorly, and not pitch at all. And yes, the trade for Garcia did marginally add to the Phillies' payroll. The franchise paid its 2006 Opening Day roster roughly $88.2 million and its 2007 Opening Day roster roughly $89.4 million.

Burrell must go? Don't be too quick to judge

Here's the situation: Bottom of the ninth, two outs, nobody on, Phillies trail the Reds by three. As Pat Burrell walks to the plate, a very vocal portion of the 15,000 or so fans who have waited out a 40-minute rain delay rise to their feet … and boo as though the devil himself has just entered the building.

It doesn't matter that Burrell is their final hope, the only person standing between the Phillies and another game lost to the first-place Mets. The boo birds hate him. They hate him for striking out looking too often, for not hitting enough home runs and for not even batting his weight. Mostly, though, they hate him for not living up to the six-year, $50-million contract the Phillies gave him four years ago when they pegged the future of the franchise on Pat the Bat.

And those fans don't just hate him a little. They hate him with the intensity of a thousand suns, and they want him out of Philly ASAP, hence the Web site , a site where fans can donate money to put toward Burrell's contract if it would help the Phillies trade him.

Phillies Notebook: Burrell On The Bench Again

A return to Citizens Bank Park did nothing to change Pat Burrell's current role with the Phillies.

Burrell found himself out of the starting lineup for the fifth time in eight games Tuesday, with rookie Michael Bourn making his second straight start in left field. Bourn had three hits and two RBIs in Sunday's 5-1 win over St. Louis, earning him another start.

The slumping Burrell hasn't had a three-hit game since May 11. He entered Tuesday hitting .127 with a .291 slugging percentage in June, dropping his overall average to .205. Burrell's average stood at .344 through 20 games, but he began Tuesday hitting .146 since then.

Manager Charlie Manuel dodged questions about whether he still considered Burrell his regular left fielder, saying Burrell would still get chances to play. How many chances remains to be seen.

Burrell's slump causing plenty of problems

The concerns seem to have faded into frustration or resignation.

Maybe that's because Phillies fans have seen this before. They remember 2003.

Leftfielder Pat Burrell is struggling like he struggled four years ago, when he hit .209 with 21 home runs and 64 RBIs. He is hitting .205 with eight homers and 31 RBIs this season, and is on pace to finish with 17 homers and 66 RBIs. Burrell is hitting .127 since May 30 and .146 since April 25.

His .376 slugging percentage ranks 52d out of 63 outfielders in baseball.

"Anytime you're not doing well, yeah, you're going to be frustrated," said Burrell, who has been benched four times in the last seven games. "You've just got to keep going out there and working."

Vote of confidence, sort of, for Burrell - Despite slump, Phils not giving up on once-heralded college star

ST. LOUIS -- It hardly seems possible now, but in three seasons at the University of Miami, Pat Burrell batted .442, the seventh-highest career average in NCAA history.

"Pat Burrell was the best college hitter I've ever seen," Miami coach Jim Morris told The News Journal last week. "I'm not only talking about hitters I've coached. I'm talking about all the hitters I've seen in 29 years."

And that's what makes Burrell -- and what he's become -- so perplexing.

Burrell, the Phillies' highest-paid player at $13 million this season, didn't start Sunday for the fourth time in seven games. An eight-week slump has dropped his average to .205, the lowest it's been this late in a season since he was batting .204 on Sept. 3, 2003.

Burrell falls in lineup, but responds with big homer

Pat Burrell, whose batting average and slugging percentage have sunk like the Titanic over the past six weeks, belted the tying home run in the ninth inning Thursday night against his nemesis, former Phillies closer Billy Wagner, who had saved a franchise-record 31 straight games for the Mets.

The slumping Burrell added an RBI double in the 10th inning, and finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs after manager Charlie Manuel dropped him from the No. 5 spot in the Phillies' lineup, something he had stubbornly refused to do even though Burrell is batting .164 (18-for-110) since April 25.

Aaron Rowand, who entered the game batting 101 points higher than Burrell's .223, was moved into the fifth spot behind Ryan Howard. Asked if Rowand is better lineup protection for Howard, Manuel said, "We're going to find out. He's got a higher average, a good on-base percentage and a little bit better slugging percentage at this time."

Burrell's bat carries Phils to sweep

NEW YORK -- For the Phillies, there was final redemption in a stadium where the home team, the crowd of 43,398 and an umpiring crew of four had seemed to conspire against them in the span of three swings of three bats in the bottom of the sixth inning on Thursday night.

The middle homer of a back-to-back-to-back attack by the Mets with two out in the bottom of the sixth gave New York a one-run lead. The second, a shot to left-center by David Wright, was disputed enough by the Phillies that it got manager Charlie Manuel ejected.

But the Phillies got one measure of revenge in the top of the ninth when Pat Burrell, who has always hit well in Shea Stadium, slugged a leadoff home run off Mets closer Billy Wagner to tie the game. Redemption came in a three-run 10th that Burrell iced with a run-scoring double down the left-field line that gave the Phillies a 6-3 win.

Fast becoming 'Pat the Sat'

PHILADELPHIA -- Pat Burrell was hitting the ball with authority on the Phillies' last homestand, homering five times in 10 games and giving the club the kind of production it craved out of the No. 5 position in the lineup.

So what happened? Going into last night's homestand opener against the Diamondbacks, "Pat the Bat" didn't have a hit in his last six games (including five starts). During that time, he went 0-for-17, seeing his average dip to a season- low .225 (dropping his May mark to an abysmal .157).

Burrell's Suite Top Item in Auction

The Phillies raised a record $720,056 during Monday’s Phillies Phestival for ALS. The total was $48,000 more than last year’s total.

Since 1984, the Phillies have raised more than $9.4 million to fight ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. During Monday’s event, fans were able to meet and take photos with members of the Phillies, get autographs and participate in auctions.

The top two items during the live auction were the use of Pat Burrell’s suite, which sold for $5,400, and a Ryan Howard game-used jersey from last year, which sold for $4,100. The top item in the silent auction was two chairs used in the Veterans Stadium Executive Dining Room, which sold for $3,500.

The money raised during Monday's Phillies Phestival will be used by the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the ALS Association.


Phillies’ Burrell has Hill’s number

PHILADELPHIA — Michael Barrett seemed to sense the imminent danger.

The Cubs’ catcher had just watched pitcher Rich Hill fall behind Phillies batter Aaron Rowand 2-0 to start the fourth inning.

So Barrett paid a visit.

“I just didn’t like the feeling of those 2 pitches,” Barrett said. “I just didn’t like the way those balls came out. I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page and we were together.”

Barrett proved prescient as Hill walked Rowand and hit Chase Utley on an 0-2 pitch before giving up a 3-run homer to sleeping giant Pat Burrell.

Burrell part of solution

One night after the veteran general manager blamed the Phillies' poor start primarily on the middle of the batting order, one of the culprits responded.
With a rare display of power.

Leftfielder Pat Burrell, the poster child for the club's struggles, slammed a pair of homers and knocked in five runs last night, steering the Phils to a 7-2 win over the Chicago Clubs at Citizens Bank Park.

Cole Hamels (5-1) pitched seven strong innings to notch the win. Lefthander Rich Hill (4-2), who took a third-in-the-league 1.73 ERA into the game, absorbed the loss.

Burrell remains enigma

There are certain undeniable truths in this world and for the Phillies that can be summed up with this: Pat Burrell is what he is.

At some point it will be necessary to move on from discussing the Phillies left fielder because nothing will change -- what you see is what you get.

Burrell has been a lightning rod for most of his tenure in Philadelphia. He has been seen as the symbol of what is wrong with this organization. It's been said he doesn't hit in the clutch, he doesn't give a total effort (not true, according to teammates), he plays poor defense (although he's better now that he's healthy), he strikes out too much and he doesn't swing enough.

He's been the focus of fans, managers and potential managers alike. He's been singled out by Mike Schmidt for not being the best player he can possibly be.

Burrell bouncing back offensively, defensively

One aspect of a healthy Pat Burrell that is lost on most people has been his ability to play defense.

The left fielder has struggled with injuries, including a surgically repaired right foot that hampered his running ability, for two seasons.

This bothered him not only at the plate and on base paths but in the outfield.

Last year, manager Charlie Manuel went to Chris Roberson as a defensive replacement for Burrell, a role assumed by Michael Bourn this year to mixed success. While still not blessed with blazing speed, Burrell is slowly making Manuel's late-game decisions tougher.

"To me, it's becoming a tough position when to take him out," Manuel said. "I don't want him to be short on at-bats because he is a run producer."

Phils need to keep Burrell in games

In 2006, Pat Burrell labored through the season, still recovering from offseason surgery to remove chips from the top of his foot.

The left fielder simply didn't run well.

The Phillies responded by using Chris Roberson late in games to cover ground in the outfield. Burrell's bat in the last two innings was deemed less important than Roberson's defense. Even in Citizens Bank Park, not to be confused with Shea Stadium, RFK Stadium or Turner Field, late defense was the call.

This year, that role has been handed to Michael Bourn, whose defensive skills have been put on display to great success.

If Howard walks, Burrell has his back

The Astros took the bat out of Ryan Howard's hands Saturday. The Phillies scored eight runs, anyway.

Howard drew four walks Saturday, extending his league lead to 16 walks. Houston manager Phil Garner ordered Howard walked intentionally three times.

Pat Burrell batted three times after a walk to Howard Saturday and went 1-for-3 with an RBI single with two outs in the sixth inning that scored Chase Utley and put the Phillies up 7-5.

"If that's what they want to do, that's fine," Howard said. "I have faith in Pat. He's going to shock a lot of people this year."

Notes: Burrell continues April success

NEW YORK -- The sixth-inning situation Monday supplied a textbook reason not to pitch to Ryan Howard.

There were two outs, first base was open and right-handed reliever Ambiorix Burgos could've dealt with the right-handed Pat Burrell, a more favorable matchup, instead of the lefty-swinging Howard.

So Mets manager Willie Randolph challenged the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, and paid for it when Howard clubbed a three-run home run that gave Philadelphia the lead. Among the reasons for his decision, Randolph offered this nugget:

"Pat Burrell is a Mets killer," he said.

Phillies notch first win as Burrell powers up

MIAMI GARDENS -- So, you want to walk Ryan Howard intentionally?

Makes sense. After seeing him become one of baseball's most dangerous sluggers last season, no manager in his right mind wants to pitch to the National League MVP in a close game.

Pat Burrell is out to prove that isn't such a sound strategy.

With the Phillies leading by three runs in the seventh inning Friday night -- and still seeking their first victory -- Florida Marlins rookie manager Fredi Gonzalez ordered right-hander Ricky Nolasco to walk Howard and pitch to Burrell.

Boobirds out for Burrell?

PHILADELPHIA - It'a Opening Day for the Phillies, and with that come several tests. One will be more telling than the rest.
Ryan Howard will be tested to see if he can reprise his MVP season. That's not the key test.

Pat Burrell will be on the clock as a heavy-contract, No. 5 hitter. Not it. Brett Myers is at the position where he either has to contend for a Cy Young Award or admit that he is just another above-average pitcher. But it's not the biggest trial.

The greatest pressure will not be on Charlie Manuel to earn a new contract, on Shane Victorino to prove he is every-day ready, on Tom Gordon to pretend he is not nearing 40, on Jon Lieber to stay in shape, on Carlos Ruiz to nicely represent the farm system or even on Jimmy Rollins, who has had more to say than a professional wrestler's cornerman.

Can Pat Burrell Protect Ryan Howard?

Fantasy geeks (and we use that term affectionately) won't be the only ones monitoring Pat Burrell's production carefully come April.  Burrell is effectively on the Phillies' hot seat following a disappointing 2006, in which he battled nagging foot problems.
With Bobby Abreu long gone, the Phils are still trying to fill the void and protect one of the game's premier power hitters.  Pat Burrell will bat behind Ryan Howard in the lineup to start the season, but Philadelphia may have to make a move if the left fielder gets off to another slow start. 
Burrell has never lacked upside, and if you think a healthy 2007 will translate into 30-plus home runs, make sure he's part of your 2007 Bleacher Report Home Run Derby.  

Burrell makes adjustments at plate

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Even after pulling a home run on an awkward, lunging swing and driving in the go-ahead run with a flare to left field Tuesday night, Pat Burrell is batting only .204 this spring.But he hasn't lost his grip on the No. 5 spot in the Phillies' lineup.

Before the Phillies' 6-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Bright House Networks Field, manager Charlie Manuel said Burrell most likely will bat fifth -- behind Ryan Howard -- in the season opener Monday against Atlanta.

"It's not like if something happens and he goes bad that I wouldn't consider moving him, but right now, he's my guy," Manuel said. "I compare him to the other guys in our lineup. He's hit there before for me the last two years."

Burrell eager to produce again

Just because Pat Burrell plays left field for the Phillies doesn't mean he's out in left field.

He hears the talk and would be lying if he said he wasn't sensitive to it.

On the other hand, he knows how to deal with it by now. More importantly, he believes he is in for a much better season than the last, in which his 29 home runs and 95 RBIs were considered by many observers to be failing numbers due to his .222 average with runners in scoring position.

"That's the one thing that I take pride in that I didn't do well last season," Burrell said before Saturday's spring-training game against the Reds in Sarasota. "Yesterday, I had an at-bat with Chase (Utley) on second base and two outs (and drove him home). Those are things you want to do."

Burrell feasts on Seminoles

Forgetting his roots, Phillies outfielder Pat Burrell didn’t realize the coach of an old college rival was having a little fun by bluffing a first inning intentional walk with first base occupied.

"I didn’t know what was going on," Burrell said after playing three innings of the Phillies’ exhibition opener Wednesday night, a 12-4 thumping of college power Florida State.    FSU coach Mike Martin simply was reliving memories from the mid-1990s when Burrell was an All-American third baseman at Miami who feasted on ’Noles pitching.   

Schmidt Wants to Help Burrell

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - February 26, 2007 - Mike Schmidt says he can relate to Pat Burrell's struggles, though the Hall of Fame third baseman and the enigmatic left fielder don't have a close relationship.

"To me, Pat is the guy I identify with on the team," said Schmidt, who arrived at Phillies camp on Monday to serve a 10-day stint as a special instructor. "I don't know that Pat really feels that from me. We're not that close. I've reached out. Maybe he doesn't want to accept it.

"I root for him a lot. I see myself in him so much for a lot of reasons - the approach to hitting, having to deal with strikeouts, the adrenalin factor and how it affects your ability to hit, wanting to do so bad in front of the Philly fans."

Schmidt tries to defuse his critical remarks of Phillies' Burrell

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Last month, Mike Schmidt made headlines when he candidly talked about Pat Burrell. Monday, the Hall of Fame third baseman sought to clarify, and, as a result, even more questions - and attention - were drawn to Burrell, who's emerged as one of the most popular topics in Phillies camp.

Can Schmidt help Burrell?

Does he want to help him?

Is there hope for the leftfielder?

Schmidt started this conversation in January when he told the Dayton Daily News that Burrell and the Reds' Adam Dunn "tick me off" because they strike out too much. "What they are doing now is not great, it is mediocrity," he said. Those words quickly found Burrell, and Burrell seemed more than just annoyed, most likely because Schmidt has criticized Burrell's approach to hitting in the past.

Notes: Burrell recalls college days - Former Miami star, Phils face Florida State on Wednesday

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Most players see the start of exhibition games as the next step toward the regular season, with fewer workouts and taking the field against players wearing different uniforms.

Pat Burrell has an added incentive for the Phillies' first game, against Florida State University on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. ET at Bright House Networks Field. The left fielder, who starred at the University of Miami for three seasons, wants blood against his former rival school.

Actually, he doesn't, but he's laughed at the thought. Instead, Burrell remembered getting a similar thrill while in college.

So much riding on Burrell's bat

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- At least twice in the offseason, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel phoned Pat Burrell, just to say hello and catch up on life.

Rarely did they discuss baseball.

If anything, Manuel didn't want the Phillies' most reviled player to think about the game, and the relentless booing of the Citizens Bank Park faithful that still was ringing in his ears from last season.

It didn't matter that Burrell had blasted 29 home runs and racked up 95 RBIs, production equaled or exceeded by just 32 players. Because of his .222 batting average with runners in scoring position, his major league-leading 63 called third strikes, a gimpy right foot that hobbled him in the outfield and on the bases, his often-surly attitude and a $9.5 million salary, he had more critics than the White House.

Bill Conlin | Can't blame Burrell for awful Aprils

IT IS ALMOST an article of faith that the latter-day Phillies crash and burn in April. It is not only their cruelest month,
it is the month when they are

autopsied and interred under the avalanche of the Eagles draft, minicamps and other

NFL minutiae.

Each spring training we are peppered by conflicted messages. The left channel says, "The exhibitions mean nothing; we're just getting in our work and waiting for the bell to ring." The right channel blares, "We've got to hit the ground running. A fast start is crucial."

Burrell Unfazed By Off-Season Criticism

Pat Burrell wasn't insulated from the criticism that he faced during the off-season. No, actually he heard it all and admits to being disappointed, but vows that it won't tarnish his season.

First, there was Dallas Green suggesting that Pat Burrell was ruining his career by having too many women hanging on his arm. Lately, it's been Mike Schmidt talking about how often Burrell strikes out. Add to that all of the trade rumors and the fact that the Phillies openly courted Alfonso Soriano this off-season and things weren't very positive for Burrell.

"It's disappointing to hear things like that," Burrell told reporters in Clearwater on Thursday. He stressed though that he didn't believe his lifestyle played any role in his supposed down numbers in 2007. Numbers which Burrell says nobody would be looking at had he not been benched as often as he was. "If I had those 100 at bats," said Burrell, "we wouldn't even be talking."

Myths about Burrell exposed

Pat Burrell is not the devil.

Strikeouts are not evil.

The concept of lineup protection is a myth.

There. Whew. That feels better . . .

Burrell spoke to the media Wednesday, for the first time since the 2006 season ended, after he reported to spring training early and settled in as the Phillies' fifth hitter. Burrell did not have a good year last season, as you may have heard if you listened to . . . well, everybody.

Burrell has been listening, by the way. Speaking to reporters in Florida Wednesday, Burrell acknowledged the public perception of him is that he's "the worst guy in the league."

Time for Phillies' Pat Burrell to answer his critics

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Had it with the cold and snow? Take heart. It's not perfect here, either.

"Bundle up," the television weatherman said. "It'll be dipping into the 40s overnight."

That, uh, foreboding forecast didn't stop another group of Phillies from checking into Camp Clearwater on Tuesday.

Even Pat Burrell strolled through the clubhouse on his way to separate afternoon meetings with general manager Pat Gillick and manager Charlie Manuel.

Punxsutawney Pat has kept a low profile this winter. He declined to speak with reporters on Tuesday but promised to come out of hibernation and share a few of his thoughts with the public on Wednesday.

More suggestions for Burrell - His problems might be in his sight and not his swing

A COUPLE OF GUYS were sitting around not too long ago, unwinding at the end of the day, talking baseball, warming themselves against the winter chill with thoughts of spring training and the summer season.

They discussed the Phillies. Inevitably, probably, Pat Burrell's name came up. After all, the slugging leftfielder has become a vexing topic in recent seasons. At times he has shown why the Phils made him the first overall pick out of the University of Miami in the 1998 draft, why they gave him a 6-year contract worth $50 million in 2003, before he was even eligible for arbitration.

And sometimes he hasn't.

Pat not essential to Phils' success

PHILADELPHIA — Pat Burrell has become the Donovan McNabb of the Phillies, the player on whom the most unreasonable of Philly fans pin every unmet expectation, every disappointing defeat.

Yes, he's more deserving of the boos and public frustration than McNabb is — Burrell did hit .217 with runners in scoring position last season, after all. Beyond that, Burrell has somehow become the cause of all that ails the Phillies.

The 131 strikeouts last season, the way he limped around left field with his injured ankle, his back leg breaking down and turning his swing into an ugly uppercut — he's the easiest target on the team.

They couldn't trade him? Why couldn't they trade him?

Gillick sounds optimistic about Burrell

Having failed to trade leftfielder Pat Burrell, with his chronically injured right foot and his $27 million price tag the next two seasons, the Phillies are painting the best face they can on his return.

"He really didn't have a bad year last year," general manager Pat Gillick said. "If you look at his home runs and RBI he had a pretty good year. I know he likes playing here in Philadelphia. I know he likes living here during the regular season. Consequently, I think he has a very positive outlook on this year and I think he's going to put up some pretty big numbers this year."

Burrell hit .258 with 29 homers and 95 RBI in 2006, the third season in the last four in which he hit below .260 with fewer than 30 homers and 100 RBI. Last season he was unable to play every day because of the foot issue, which has plagued him for the past three seasons. The injury also made routine the replacement of Burrell on the bases or in the outfield late in games.

Gillick stressed that Burrell could again be the player that he was in 2002 and 2004. Hitting coach Milt Thompson and manager Charlie Manuel plan to spend extra time with Burrell this spring working on his stiff stance in the batter's box and his flawed mental approach.
"I think he's going to put up some pretty big numbers this year," Gillick said. Hopefully.