Mike Schmidt is perhaps the greatest Phillie of all time. The Phillies, as you probably know, have been the worst team in baseball so far this season. But Schmidt works for the Phillies as a color analyst on weekend home games, so you’d expect him to refrain from trashing the team when he appeared on 94 WIP in Philadelphia this morning.
He did not!
Schmidt absolutely torched the only player on the Phillies signed to a contract of significant length. Asked if Odubel Herrera could be a player the Phillies could build around, Schmidt had some stupid things to say:
My honest answer to that would be no because of a couple of things. First of all, it’s a language barrier. Because of that, I think he can’t be a guy that would sort of sit in a circle with four, five American players and talk about the game. Or try and learn about the game or discuss the inner workings of the game. Or come over to a guy and say, “Man, you gotta run that ball out.” Just can’t be — because of the language barrier — that kind of a player.
The Phillies have invested heavily in players from Spanish-speaking countries like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. Now someone employed by the team is saying Spanish-speaking guys can’t be team leaders! The Phillies aren’t doing so well off the field this year, either. (Incidentally, Herrera speaks English; most if not all major league players speak enough English to tell a guy he should run a ball out.)
Schmidt has previously weighed in on his distaste for bat flippers like Herrera, and basically says Herrera is too exuberant to lead the Phillies:
“He’s more of a sort of, play the game, allow his exuberance for the game to kind of spread around the team. I think the fans love him. He’s not afraid to do things that sort of irk the other team if you will, and you know what that is. I probably would hate him if I played against him because of his antics on the field, but he’s not afraid. He’s not afraid to do that. He’s learning to play a really good centerfield. They haven’t figured out where he needs to hit in the batting order yet. To answer your question, those are the reasons that I don’t think you can build a team around him. Now, I truly think he can hit second or first on a championship team. There’s no question about that.”
Of course, Schmidt is correct in one way: The Phillies likely won’t be building a championship team around the guy who’s hitting .243 this season.
Update (5:15 p.m. ET): Mike Schmidt is spending this afternoon doing damage control. He apologized to Herrera, who said he accepted it and hopes the whole situation blows over. Schmidt also said this:
“I’m very sorry that this misrepresentation of my answer occurred and may have offended someone” is a new one.