If you readers have some free time on your hands, take a gander at this.
Nothing like some stats to show how crazy this season has been so far. Instead of seeing the regular names like Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, or Chase Utley on top of the charts, players such as Jose Bautista, Martin Prado, and Billy Butler are among the league leaders in some of the major offensive categories.
After taking a deeper look into these stats, since I had some rare time on my hands and all, it became a bit frustrating. As the current Phillies appear to be just breaking out of a seemingly endless slump, it seems that now more than ever, the names near the top of some of the lists are players who have been spotted in the home dugout in Philadelphia at some point in their career.
This poses an interesting question..
That is, if you put together a team of the best players who have been a part but are no longer affiliated with the Philadelphia organization in any way other than the history books, who would be on it, and how good would they be in comparison to the current (note that I said current) Phillies squad?
Take a look.
(All stats accurate as of June 19th, 2009)
C: Rod Barajas (.253 BA, 11 HR, 30 RBI’s for the New York Mets): After hitting .230 with 4 HR’s in split-time duty with the Phillies in 2007 (he was the opening day starter), Barajas was left of the 25-man roster at the beginning of the 2008 season in favor of Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz and was granted his release from the organization. After two season as a starter in Toronto, Barajas is now with the rival Mets, and is second on the team in HR’s with 11, one behind team leader David Wright.
1B: Jim Thome (.250 BA, 6 HR, 19 RBI’s for the Minnesota Twins): Thome, who hit 40+ HR’s in both his full seasons in Philadelphia, isn’t on this list because of his stats THIS year. In his time with the Phillies, the future hall-of-famer helped rejuvenate baseball in the City of Brotherly Love, in which fans of the sport like myself should be forever grateful for that. With 570 HR’s ( the last one being against the Phillies), 5 all-star appearances, and one Silver Slugger award, Thome is a virtual lock for the HOF, and will go in to Cooperstown as one of the most genuine personalities in the history of the game. While he has spent almost half of his career at DH, if it weren’t for the utter existance of one Ryan Howard, Thome would have most likely played a couple more year at first base for the Phillies, using the band-box that they call Citizens Bank Park and the short porch in RF as his personal target practice. I’m not complaining (Howard has done pretty well if I can remember correctly), but it’s still okay to wonder what could have been.
2B: Miguel Cairo (.263 BA, 2 HR, 9 RBI’s for the Cincinnati Reds): Cairo is in this spot because everyone who has played a middle infield position with the Phillies over the last decade is either still with the team, in the minor leagues, is out of baseball all-together, or has the name Nick Punto (Minnesota Twins). Honestly, it’s a toss up between the two, but I will not put in my starting lineup because I still remember him spurning me for an autograph way back when. Karma. Not a second-basemen by nature, Cairo has made a 14-year big league career out a utility man, second base being one of the position that he has played. I already made my anti-Punto case, so it was either Cairo or Eric Bruntlett here, and Cairo gets the nod because he is actually playing in the bigs and is hitting over the Mendoza line, two qualities that he has over Bruntlett.
SS: Jason Donald (.253 BA, 1 HR, 8 RBI’s for the Cleveland Indians): Again, not much depth with the middle infield, but Donald is an interesting case. If he was not part of the deal to acquire Cliff Lee last season, he most likely would have made his big league debut with the Phillies this season instead of with the Indians, in which two disabled list stints for Jimmy Rollins would have most likely brought up Donald to the forefront of the organizational depth chart. Donald, who was considered a top-5 prospect for three seasons with the Phillies and this year with the Indians, has performed reasonably well for a struggling team in relief of Asdrubal Cabrera, who was lost for the season in late May after a gruesome arm injury, and is looking like he could be in the big leagues for a long time.
3B: Scott Rolen (.296 BA, 14 HR, 45 RBI’s for the Cincinnati Reds): As the surprise of the year, the Reds, of all teams, have been in and out of first place the entire season. While Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and the starting pitching may get most of the credit for it, the MVP of this team and maybe the entire NL at this point of the season is Rolen. With that said, he’s a no-brainer for this spot, as he was one of the only reasons that the struggling Phillies franchise stayed afloat from 1996 to when he was traded in 2002, as he averaged 27 HR and 98 RBI’s in six full seasons with the club, winning a ROY award, 3 Gold Gloves, and making one all-star game in the time span.
RF: Bobby Abreu (.272 BA, 7 HR, 34 RBI’s for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim): Bobby Abreu is the the typical enigmatic Philadelphia athlete. On one end, Abreu was one of the most consistent offensive threats for the Phillies in recent memory, hitting 20+ HR for six straight seasons with Philadelphia, making two all-star games and winning a HR Derby to add to it. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Phillies fans always had a reason to boo Abreu when he was out on the field, as his superior arm strength was overshadowed by the fact that he rarely used his maximum effort to go after balls in the outfield. At this point, Abreu being 36 years old and all, you have to take into account that his skills are going to have to drop off at some point. However, with three straight 100+ RBI seasons with the Yankees and the Angels, he is still and above-average corner outfielder in the bigs. Note that I refuse to associate J.D Drew with the Phillies (his back-hand slap to the face of the organization when he refused to sign with the club after he was drafted by Philadelphia in the first round in 1997 still makes him public enemy #1 in my book), so it’s not like there is much competition.
CF: Marlon Byrd (.320 BA, 9 HR, 34 RBI’s for the Chicago Cubs): Based on his career, some may view Byrd a surprise pick here, being that he has basically been a platoon player since his arrival to the big league scene in 2002. However, at 32 years of age, he may be in his prime. In his first full season as a starter with Texas in 2009, Byrd hit .283, and set a career high in HR’s and RBI’s. So far this season, after signing a 3-year contract with the Chicago Cubs, Byrd has been even better, as his .320 BA is the best on his team, and ranks third in the NL. And to think, Byrd was at times viewed in Philadelphia as just a defensive replacement.
LF: Aaron Rowand (.220 BA, 6 HR, 23 RBI’s for the San Francisco Giants): Rowand may be having a down year for the Giants. Ok, a really down year. The fact of the matter is, Rowand makes this team because he beloved by the Phillies fans in his two seasons in Philadelphia, making an all-star game in 2007, and providing the signature defensive highlight in the eight-season history at Citizens Bank Park.
BENCH: OF Pat Burrell (.246 BA, 4 HR, 18 RBI’s with the Tampa Bay Rays/San Francisco Giants), 3B/2B Pedro Feliz (.220 BA, 2 HR, 22 RBI’s with the Houston Astros), 1B/3B Wes Helms (.272 BA, 2 HR, 9 RBI’s with the Florida Marlins), OF Michael Bourn (.253 BA, 0 HR, 11 RBI’s, 21 SB with the Houston Astros), SS/2B Nick Punto (.255 BA, 1 HR, 18 RBI’s with the Minnesota Twins), C Ronny Paulino (.314 BA, 3 HR, 27 RBI’s for the Florida Marlins)
SP: Cliff Lee (5-3, 2.55 ERA for the Seattle Mariners): For a player who only spent three months with the organization, Cliff Lee made about as big of an impact in Philadelphia as humanly possible. He was the teams ace for the stretch run in the 2009 regular season, and was even better when it truly mattered in the playoffs and the World Series. That alone makes him the sure-fire starter. The fact that he is the proud owner of a Cy Young award, and is arguably a top 8-10 pitcher in baseball at this point of season (2.55 ERA ranks fourth in the AL) is just a bonus.
REST OF ROTATION: Carlos Silva (8-2, 3.01 ERA for the Chicago Cubs), Freddy Garcia (7-3, 4.94 ERA for the Chicago White Sox), Gio Gonzalez (6-5, 4.21 ERA for the Oakland Athletics), Randy Wolf (5-6, 5.08 ERA for the Milwaukee Brewers)
BULLPEN: Ryan Franklin (3-0, 2.40 ERA, 13 SV for the St. Louis Cardinals), Brett Myers (4-5, 3.34 ERA for the Houston Astros), Chan Ho Park (1-1, 5.30 ERA for the New York Yankees), Arthur Rhodes (2-1, 0.30 ERA for the Cincinnati Reds), Tyler Walker (1-0, 3.67 ERA for the Washington Nationals)
CLOSER: Billy Wagner (5-0, 1.27 ERA, 13 SV with the Atlanta Braves): Even though Wagner may have had an up and down tenure with the Phillies, both on the field and in the clubhouse, he will always be remembered for hitting 100 mph on the radar gun in the first night game at the new Citizens Bank Ballpark in 2004. I was personally one of the fans in the crowd who gave him a standing ovation during that game that seemed like an eternity. With that said, after having great years before Philadelphia with the Houston Astros, and bad years after Philadelphia with the New York Mets, “Billy the Kid” has seemed to revive his career for at least one more season with the Braves, in which a bid to the 2010 All-Star game might be on the horizon for the 40-year old veteran closer.
THOSE WHO MISSED THE CUT: Matt Stairs, Russell Branyan, Gavin Floyd, Rodrigo Lopez, Kyle Lohse, Robinson Tejeda, Vicente Padilla, Jason Jaramillo, Jack Taschner, Lou Marson, Gustavo Chacin
So, that’s the team. Can they compete with the current Phils?