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Burrell Faces ‘Man Or Machine’ Year In 2008

There was considerable focus on Pat Burrell from the media today, as he gave the press corps a 30-minute junket. Let’s take a look:

Obviously, the big headline from the meeting was that Burrell wants to stay a Phillie.

Ken Mandel, Phils beat writer at MLB.com, had plenty to write about, as Burrell went into everything from his dog, Elvis, to being taken out late in games for defensive purposes.

“Any time you deal with adversity and go through some of the things I have, you have two choices: You can let it beat you up or build from it and go forward. Not only do you become a better player, but a better person, more understanding. You always see certain players struggle. Sometimes, you feel like you’re alone out there. Everybody who has played long enough has been through times where things aren’t going right. It can be a good thing.”

The positive Burrell wants to remain that kind of player in Philadelphia.

“One hundred percent I want to stay,” Burrell said. “I’d love to come back. It’s really got more to do with the guys on the team. This group of guys is going to win for a long time.”

While both Todd Zolecki and David Murphy expect Burrell will be fashioning another pair of pants next season, I’m not completely sold that he’s outta’ here. The Phils have had chances to trade him — though that no-trade clause has been sticky — and have never done the deal.

“There were times I thought I might not be here. I wasn’t sure if there was something going on in the offseason. Through it all, my mindset has always been Philly’s always treated me great.”

And Mandel doesn’t go as far as to saying the Phillies are striking Burrell out of the 2009 roster plans.

“Burrell has said in the past that he’s open to remaining in Philadelphia, so he would likely be open to an in-season extension. The Phillies, on the other hand, might wait until the season ends to explore that avenue,” he writes in his newest mailbag.

As for 2008, Philadelphia Will Do, the Philadelphia Weekly blog, has this quote from Mike Schmidt about Burrell:

“I’ve often times said Pat reminds me of myself… I would say this about Pat Burrell. The Phillies have one, two, three — three, is it? — solid MVP candidates and I believe Pat Burrell could be the fourth this year.”

Big words from a great player. So what can we expect from Burrell in 2008? Buster Olney of ESPN.com tackled Burrell at the right time, using scout evaluations to carve an opinion of the slugger. For the most part, the evaluations are sound — Burrell is close to a Three True Outcomes player, and if he doesn’t pull all the time, he could do damage at the plate.

What ’08 comes down to, according to Olney, is the kind of player Burrell will look to be — a home run-happy slugger who pulls for 35-40 HR (Man), or a sound hitter who continues his second half ’07 surge for strong overall numbers (Machine).

If Machine is the case, expect the Phils to be much higher on Burrell for 2009. And something tells me 2008 will be a monster year for Burrell, the kind Schmidt is talking about. I can see 34 HR, 120 RBI and a .305 AVG. Honestly. Plus, something has to be said about Burrell’s demeanor. Once considered a hermit, Burrell took charge as the pumped-up fireball of the second half. Add to that his long and candid conversation today, and Burrell becomes a bit more attractive for 2009.

So would the Phillies pony up the dough for another couple years of a Machine?

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