Schmidt: 2011 Phils could be franchise's best

Schmidt: 2011 Phils could be franchise's best

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Mike Schmidt declared the 2011 Phillies "maybe the best ever" team in franchise history.

He loves Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton in the rotation, and Brad Lidge in the bullpen. He likes the offense, too. But he also believes Phillies hitters need to adjust their game and bounce back from last season, when he said they underachieved.

"It's like Tiger Woods can win a golf tournament, or used to be able to win a golf tournament, without playing well," Schmidt said Wednesday morning at Bright House Field. "Well, the Phillies seemed to prove to me last year they can win the division without really playing well, without clicking on all cylinders all year."

Schmidt, who is in camp as a guest instructor through March 5, said the Phillies need to play more small ball.

"They need to be accountable for themselves a little bit more in that regard," he said. "The game rewards you if you go out on the field every day and you do what you're required to do to win the game in your role, whether you're the leadoff hitter, two-hole hitter, cleanup or eight-hole hitter. ... The baseball gods will reward you if you go on the field every day and you say, 'It's not about me, it's about what I can do for the team that day.'"

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins is expected to open the season as the team's leadoff hitter. Schmidt has no problem with that, but he does not see why Rollins can't play a little more like Pete Rose.

"Jimmy Rollins can't do what Pete Rose did?" he said. "Just take a year. Pete Rose got 200 hits 10 straight years, and Jimmy is faster. I just think Pete understood more what his role was. Jimmy needs to be more Pete Rose-like in his approach to the game, and more accountable for getting on base.

"Offensively, he's about running and getting on base and getting hits and leading the league in hitting. He wants to look at the USA Today every day, or the Inquirer, and see his name right up there in the top three of hitting. It should be, right? Same with [Shane] Victorino, and I know they feel that way."

Rollins smiled when he heard Schmidt said he should be more like Rose.

"That's a pretty good compliment, isn't it?" he said.

Schmidt said players like Rollins, Victorino, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco are the keys to small ball.

"Those guys are geared into one thing, getting on base and setting the table, creating havoc and stealing bases," he said.

"You can't maximize that part of your game if you're hitting a lot of fly-ball outs, hitting a lot of 1-0 fastballs and flying out, thinking that you're a home run hitter. You have to be a get-on-base-guy. That's what is going to make the team go. They need to be accountable."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said playing small ball is simple if everybody performs to their standards.

"Those guys have to have their ordinary years," he said.

Schmidt said he believes Phillies hitters understand this.

"They are sensing the accountability, and they all feel like they underperformed last year as individuals, except for a couple of guys," he said. "They need to get better offensively. There's no doubt about it. I think they all know that.

"I think, to [a] man, they all feel the same way about themselves. I think a lot of them feel like they underachieved last year. We have a combination of great things going here. We've got a fantastic starting staff, a good bullpen, always a great defense and a whole bunch of hungry hitters."

If everybody stays healthy and does what they're supposed to do, Schmidt said this is a team that should win 100 games.

"Winning baseball is about pitching and defense, and offense is sort of secondary," he said. "If a team is built around something, and can be built around the four greatest starters maybe ever assembled on one team, you feel like you've really got a chance, a strong chance, of having a great year."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.