CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The 61-year-old Hall of Famer is never short of opinions or words, so when Mike Schmidt addresses reporters annually at the beginning of his stint as a spring instructor, headlines are made.
Here's one: Mike Schmidt thinks this is the best Phillies team ever.
"If a team can be built around the four greatest starters maybe ever assembled on one team, you feel like you really have a strong chance of having a great year," Schmidt said.
But the team is not without flaws, Schmidt says. Watching from afar, he thinks the team underachieved on offense in 2010 and must adapt a small-ball approach in 2011.
Who will wind up having the best career?
"I never played on a team that had a starting staff like this one," Schmidt said. "Gosh, if you hit a home run in the first inning or hit a double, get him over, get him in, that has a chance of being a factor in almost every game. 1-0, 2-0, that could win a lot of ballgames for the Phillies.
"It's great for an offense to have that mindset. We don't need to score eight. We just need to play small ball, move them and be good at the kind of thing we're not necessarily known for being good at. That's the mantra in the spring here with the hitters and the coaches. If we do our job with our bunts, advancing runners, walks and get on base and turn two or three runs over to Hamels, Lee, Halladay, Blanton and Oswalt, our goal should be 100 runs for sure."
Schmidt says Jimmy Rollins must be more "Pete Rose-like" in his approach to the game. (As an aside, I'm trying to be more Gary Smith-like in my writing.) He expects Shane Victorino to stop trying to be a power hitter and get on base more.
He is also very happy with his current relationship with the Phillies. Schmidt said he has not yet discussed being in the broadcast booth for a few games as he did in 2010.
"I feel blessed I still have a role, though it's a bit of a minor role with the team," Schmidt said. "It's more of a marketing role now. The relationship with the Phillies right now is as strong as its ever been. That part of my life is really good. I'm a very happy man."
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