The 8 Best And 8 Worst Moves In Philadelphia Phillies History
Every team in major league baseball has made a multitude of trades over the course of their existence. Some teams, of course, have been around a lot longer than others. That means that some of those older teams have made a bunch more notable trades than most. And to be notable, well, it does not mean they have to be good trades. Some might be, but odds are there’s quite a few stinkers among them. And if we are being fair, we need to cast a wider net. As in, let’s examine all aspects of team building. For example, teams don’t just build through trades. There is the draft and free agency too. And with that in mind, those areas should be fair game too.
So with all that said, some teams have really made some amazing moves, right? Amazingly good, and amazingly bad. And, one of my favorite teams, the Phightin’ Phils, have done this as well. And when you think about it, this all makes sense. They are one of the older baseball franchises, after all. They are one of the few teams in baseball to have lost ten thousand games. Now, you can’t lose that many unless you’ve been around forever, and if you’ve found yourself lacking in talent. And you generally only find yourself lacking talent when you have some major front office issues-bad trades, bad drafting, questionable free agency moves. And, the Phillies have been around so long, some of their biggest blunders folks actually have forgotten about, or may have completely not even realized the Phillies were a part of. Seriously, that’s how long they’ve been around. Some of these guys on the list, you are going to be floored that they were ever on the Philadelphia Phillies roster at all. But, there’s also good news. After all, these guys have also won over 9500 games, and among those, two World Series titles. Which means? Well, there has to have been a few good moves in there too. So let’s take a look at the list!
16. WORST: TRADING AWAY SCOTT ROLEN
Why is this one on here? Because this was a shining example of front office ineptitude, if you ask most fans and other baseball experts. Scott Rolen was, quite honestly, one of the better third basemen in baseball at the time, and he was, hands down, the best third baseman the Phillies had had since a certain first ballot Hall of Famer named Schmidt manned the hot corner. And, here’s the brutal reality of these kinds of trades, in any sport: in almost every instance, when you are trading a huge star, you don’t get similar returns. Mostly, you gamble on a package of prospects, hoping that if you haul in a huge bunch of decent prospects, one or two will actually pan out. The Phillies picked up a few bodies in return, and while Mike Timlin was a decent pickup, the cornerstone of their return was Placido Polanco. And while Polanco was a very good player for the Phillies, he was no Scott Rolen.
15. BEST: SIGNING JIM THOME
While Thome never led the Phillies to the promised land of a World Series title directly, he indirectly had a hand in it. And, just as important, it was his signing that kind of ushered in that next (and most recent) run of Phillies success. The Phillies signed the big first baseman away from the Cleveland Indians in 2002, just before Christmas. And he had a big impact on the Phillies, bringing some much needed pop to the lineup, and instantly boosting their profile. He had two good years with the team before injuries opened the door for his replacement, Ryan Howard. But Thome wasn’t done being useful for the Phils. Nope, they flipped him to Chicago for a package of players which included Aaron Rowand and Gio Gonzalez. Rowand became a fixture on the 2008 World Series team, while Gonzalez has been a stud pitcher (just not for the Phillies).
14. WORST: DRAFTING JD DREW
13. BEST: LANDING BOBBY ABREU
This one, quite honestly, could have landed at number one, it was such a stroke of both luck and genius. In 1997, there was an expansion draft taking place. Abreu was, at the time, an outfielder for the Houston Astros, left unprotected to the draft process. The new team, then known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, selected Abreu and then promptly flipped Bobby to the Phillies in exchange for shortstop Kevin Stocker. Stocker was nothing more than a solid, very average shortstop. Abreu? He was an efficient offensive player if ever there was one. Phillies fans might have, at times, under-appreciated him, but most baseball men saw his stat lines and drooled. He was very good in a number of offensive categories, and was so for a number of years.
12. WORST: TRADING AWAY CLIFF LEE
Remember in the above JD Drew segment when I categorized the Phillies as often cheap? Here’s a perfect example of it. Christmas came early in 2009 for the Philadelphia area, as the Phillies hauled in Doc Halladay (more on this later). The Phillies already had a pretty solid pitching staff, featuring Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, among others. But the front office decided that Lee and Halladay would be too expensive to keep, while Hamels was coming up on his big payday. Lee was approaching free agency, so he was going to break the bank again too. So, rather than biting the bullet and enjoying what a loaded pitching staff could do for a year, the Phillies opted to quickly turn around and trade Cliff Lee to Seattle for basically nothing good. None of the prospects shipped to the Phillies in the deal amounted to anything.
11. BEST: ACQUIRING CURT SCHILLING
Schilling is a great example of a minor league guy who scouts got wrong. I say this because he didn’t come up through just one organization. No, he came up through several before landing in Philadelphia and really announcing his presence with authority. He was originally with the Boston Red Sox, but they flipped him to Baltimore, who then flipped him to Houston. And once in Houston, he finally made his way to Philadelphia, with the Astros receiving Jason Grimsley in return. Needless to say, this one was a trade the Phillies won handily. And while Schilling did go on to enjoy more success with the Arizona Diamondbacks (one World Series ring) and Boston (two rings), he established himself as a dominant star in Philadelphia. He was a strikeout artist, recording over 3,000 in his career, and an absolutely dominant post-season ace. It should only be a matter of time before he lands in Cooperstown.