Saturday, August 1, 2015
Phillies Continue Winning Ways Despite Departures
GAME RECAP: Phillies Best Braves 9-3
With all the moves that happened in Philadelphia on Friday, it might've been hard to remember that the team still had a game to play. But from the way the Phillies played, the trades didn't seem to affect them. The Philadelphia offense erupted for nine runs and 11 hits in their 9-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. The offense started early with the first five Phillies to come to the plate all reaching base and four of them scoring. From there the offense didn't relent. The win was the Phillies' 11th in 13 games since the All-Star break, continuing the hot streak that has accounted for more than a quarter of the team's wins this season. "I couldn't be happier," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "Everybody's playing pretty darn well." The loss was Atlanta's fifth in a row. Though the offense showed some spark, the Braves struggled to capitalize on the opportunities they made for themselves. The Braves recorded double-digit hits for the second-straight night, but also for the second-straight night they stranded a high percentage of those hitters, leaving seven on base and going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
OTHER NOTES FROM THE DAY:
· The Phillies cannot trade Hamels, Revere and Diekman and not make some corresponding moves. The Phillies recalled right-hander David Buchanan from Triple-A to take Hamels' spot in the rotation. They also recalled outfielder Jordan Danks and right-hander Dalier Hinojosa to replace Revere and Diekman, respectively.
· The Phillies immediately placed left-hander Matt Harrison, whom they acquired in the Hamels deal, on the 15-day disabled list with lower back inflammation. He has made just nine starts the past three seasons because of a pair of back surgeries. He felt some stiffness in his last start Monday. The Phillies acquired Harrison because he is owed $33 million on his contract, which helps the Rangers offset the $81 million remaining on Hamels' deal. "If he's healthy enough and can bounce back to where he was before, it's a good risk that can create some value for us to help stabilize our rotation down the road," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "I'll know more about his overall medical situation as soon as the doctors examine him today."
· Called up to start in place of traded ace Cole Hamels, David Buchanan didn't disappoint in his return from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 26-year-old tossed 7 1/3 innings of three-run ball, striking out four and walking none. He also got the opportunity to show off his talents with the bat, driving in a run in the fifth inning with a single and nearly beating out throws from shortstop twice on grounders. With the win, Buchanan improved his record to 2-5 and dropped his ERA nearly a full point to 6.44. "When Cole got traded there was a spot that opened up and they called me up to fill it today," Buchanan said. "Every time I go out there I want to give the impression that I'm good enough to be here and I have the confidence enough to take that role. As long as the opportunity presents itself, I'm going to try to take advantage of it the best I can."
· Prior to this series with Atlanta, Domonic Brown's bat, which had been cold all year, woke up this week, however, and he found his power stroke. Brown hit his first home run of the season on Thursday night off of Shelby Miller then rocketed a ball into the Phillies' bullpen in the fifth inning on Friday, scoring Howard from first. Brown's batting average has improved from .191 on July 19 to .252 over his last nine games. "He seems to have been more of a defensive hitter and we've been trying to get him to get more of a head out. He seems to be doing that more lately. He's hit the ball out in front of the plate a little bit more instead of worrying about the outer half," Mackanin said of Brown's swings.
· The Braves concluded Philadelphia's five-run fifth when a replay review overturned an infield single that had been awarded to Brown. The replay showed Matt Marksberry received Freeman's feed from the outfield grass and tagged Brown's left thigh as they were both approaching the first base bag.
· "I think everybody was confused. I don't know if it was a slow-motion play or what it was." -- Mackanin, on the bizarre rundown where instead of trying to get back to second base, Cesar Hernandez stared A.J. Pierzynski down until the catcher made a decision.
Rookie Aaron Nola will take the ball for the Phillies. He is 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA over his first two career starts and has excelled in preventing runners from reaching base, holding a miniscule 0.95 WHIP to start his career. Matt Wisler will take the mound for Atlanta when this four-game series resumes on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Wisler has produced a 3.43 ERA through his first seven career starts.
Buchanan Steps Up – David Buchanan isn't the kind of player who gets accused of loafing. "I get kind of yelled at sometimes, 'Take it easy, don't try to blow anything out trying to get to first base,'" he said. "But that's just the competitive nature in myself. I'm not going to hit a ground ball and not try to beat it out." After the 26-year-old right-handed pitcher tossed 7 1/3 innings, allowing just three runs and earning his second win of the year in the Phillies' 9-3 win over Atlanta, he was more animated describing his baserunning abilities than his pitching, adamantly defending his opinion that he was safe trying to beat an Andrelton Simmons throw to first base. On a bigger scale, that kind of effort is what drives Buchanan not just to be a Major League pitcher, but to remain one. Buchanan has struggled at times throughout the season, is still carrying with him a 6.44 ERA and has bounced between Triple-A Lehigh Valley and the Majors this season. But always opportunistic, Buchanan seized the 21-hour notice he was given before the start and performed well. "When Cole got traded there was a spot that opened up and they called me up to fill it today," Buchanan said. "Every time I go out there I want to give the impression that I'm good enough to be here and I have the confidence enough to take that role." Confidence is key for Buchanan, who spoke after his most recent demotion to Triple-A about how confidence is normally the difference for him between a strong outing and a weak one. And with all the circumstances surrounding Friday's start -- not only was the importance of the night heightened by the Hall of Famers in attendance for Alumni Weekend, but also because of the trades of Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman and Ben Revere -- Buchanan found confidence amid a whirlwind of events. Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said he was impressed by the focus Buchanan appeared to exhibit despite the events of the day. He also said he believed Buchanan looked like he was motivated by his stint in Triple-A to prove he belongs in the Majors. "Like I always say, I say it every day, you're constantly auditioning," Mackanin said. "Your last outing is behind you. You've got to keep pitching well. You can get a hit to win a game and the next day make an error to lose a game, you've got to be constantly on guard and pushing forward and remaining consistent. He's done that his last three outings for us." Buchanan admitted that the day was a little bizarre. He said he was caught off guard by the Revere trade and he was disappointed to see Hamels and Diekman, as well as Jonathan Papelbon, leave because of all the wisdom they had imparted to him. But as bizarre as the day might've been, Buchanan gave off the vibe that he had no regrets about how the day ended. Well, maybe one. "I'm always trying to do the best I can," he said. "Thought I was safe [running to first], but it happens."
Deadline Overview – The whispers were loud, persistent and anonymous. The Phillies were asking too much, way too much, for their big-ticket items. As good as Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon were, there was no way they were worth the can't-miss prospects from the farm system of whichever team was being rumored to be most interested at the moment. Or so the innuendo went. It could have been nothing more than a calculated, covert attempt to drive down the price on both pitchers. It forced a denial from the Phils. Now, there are two good reasons why it's impossible to confirm or deny that accusation. One is that none of us is privy to the back-and-forth discussions that went on, so we don't know with any degree of certainty exactly what club president Pat Gillick and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. were holding out for. Then there's this: Value isn't a fixed concept. A ballpoint pen, a steak, a car -- or a controllable ace left-handed starter in the prime of his career or a closer who hasn't blown a save all season -- is worth exactly what someone is willing to pay. Now we know. Now we know what the Rangers would give up for Hamels. Now we know what the Nationals were willing to part with to get Papelbon. Now (with the usual caveat that only time will tell how these deals ultimately pan out) we can at least offer an educated opinion on how the Phillies fared when they cashed in their two most valuable trade chips just ahead of Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline. All things considered, it says here they did pretty darn well. By also sending outfielder Ben Revere to the Blue Jays for two Minor Leaguers shortly before the Deadline, the Phillies added a total of eight prospects to their farm system. "These are exactly the types of things we set out to do when we went into this transition in the offseason," Amaro said. "We got a very good package of players we think will help this organization in the future. We were very happy with the return. What we get in this return is an unknown. Who knows what's going to happen? But we believe the level of talent we received was exactly what we were looking for. "We were looking for depth and we were looking for quality, and we got both." Sure, it would have been great if the Dodgers had been willing to trade Joc Pederson for Hamels before the season started or Corey Seager this week. Yeah, it would have been exciting if the Rangers had made Joey Gallo available. Or if the Cubs had offered Kyle Schwarber or the Red Sox dangled Blake Swihart. In the bigger picture, though, it's useful to remember that this isn't an organization that's just a player or two away. This is an organization that is in the process of trying to restock a system that ran low after years of trading prospects and giving up Draft choices as the front office tried to win as many championships as possible around a core consisting of the best first baseman the franchise has ever had (Ryan Howard), the best second baseman (Chase Utley), the best shortstop (Jimmy Rollins) and the best starting pitcher it had developed in more than 50 years (Hamels). From that perspective, getting multiple prospects instead of one big-name player makes sense. And it also demonstrated consistency on the part of the Phillies' thinkers. Amaro, after all, pointed out more than once that potential is great, but it doesn't mean much until a player proves he can produce at the big league level. "The biggest risk is how these guys will continue to develop and what they might be able to do here in Philadelphia," Amaro said. "That's the risk, because they're prospects. But we think they're going to be guys who are going to impact our club, hopefully in the near future." Financial advisors warn against going all in on even the most attractive stock. Better to hedge your bets by spreading the money around. And that, in essence, is what the Phillies have done. Again, there are no guarantees that even the most touted kid will develop into a star. So instead of holding out for one of the very best Rangers prospects, they took Jake Thompson (ranked No. 4 by MLB.com), Nick Williams (No. 5), Jorge Alfaro (No. 6), Jerad Eickhoff (No. 17) and Alec Asher (No. 29). With one deal, the system was suddenly that much deeper. The Phillies also got veteran Matt Harrison, an 18-game winner in 2012 who has been waylaid by injuries since. The Phillies got only one player from the Nationals for Papelbon, and Amaro even admitted that Nick Pivetta projects as a middle- to bottom-of-the-rotation starter. Then again, trading Papelbon presented unique challenges. The trend in baseball is away from paying top dollar to closers, and Papelbon is making $13 million this season, the final guaranteed year of what remains the richest contract given to a reliever in history. Plus, he has a vestable option for another $13 million in 2016. On top of that, he didn't make Amaro's task any easier by making it clear every time he was within shouting distance of a camera, microphone or notepad that he wanted out. The unspoken implication was that if the Phillies didn't trade him, they'd wish they had. All of which only increased the perception that as talented as the closer might be on the mound, any team acquiring him risked adding a headache off it. Against that backdrop, getting a prospect who has the chance to be a No. 3 starter in the big leagues looks a whole lot better. And when all is said and done, the Phillies have added eight young players. Probably not all will make it, but that's all right. The organization is deeper now than it was a week ago and appears to be a step closer to contending. And wasn't that the goal in the first place?
Deal Done – Cole Hamels said farewell Friday to Philadelphia. He had a heck of a 13-year run. It began in 2002, when the Phillies made him the 17th overall pick in the Draft. He reached the big leagues in 2006 with plenty of fanfare. He earned the National League Championship Series and World Series Most Valuable Player Awards in 2008, when the Phillies won their second championship in franchise history. He was part of a nearly storybook season in 2011, when he joined Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt in a memorable rotation. "There's a lot to say and not enough time," Hamels said about his Phillies career at Citizens Bank Park, where he discussed his trade to the Rangers. "It is a part of who I am and what I've become, with the opportunity I've been given to play baseball in the historical city of Philadelphia. I've had some of the best memories I've ever had." The Phillies traded Hamels, Jake Diekman and $9.5 million to Texas for left-hander Matt Harrison and five Minor League prospects: outfielder Nick Williams, catcher Jorge Alfardo and right-handers Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher. Thompson, Williams and Alfaro are ranked 60th, 64th and 69th, respectively, among all prospects in MLB Pipeline's Top 100. "We've got a very good package of players that I think will help propel this organization forward in the future," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. The Rangers and Phillies agreed to the trade Wednesday night, but it took until Friday to be finalized. Amaro said he and Rangers general manager Jon Daniels had been working on the trade for the past six to eight months. It actually extended further back than that. The Phillies and Rangers discussed a Hamels trade in July 2012. "There was no shortage of suitors here," Amaro said. "We were not forced. We had no mandate. We just felt collectively as a group that this was the right thing to do for our organization. We were very happy with the return. What we get in this return is still an unknown. Who knows what's going to happen with these guys? But we believe that the level of talent we received in this deal was exactly what we were looking for. We were looking for depth and quality, and we got both." The Phillies and Astros actually agreed on a deal before the Phillies and Rangers, but Hamels had Houston on his 20-team no-trade list and rejected it. Texas was not on Hamels' no-trade list because he has family and friends in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It is unclear who Houston offered to the Phillies, but the package was believed to be stronger than Texas'. "There were some clubs that were aggressive," Amaro said. "Could we have gotten better deals? I don't know that, but we did travel down a path even with some clubs that he didn't have on his list. The fact of the matter is Texas' pieces, depth, and the way we lined up really worked very well for us. That's the best deal we felt we could make." The Phillies kicked in $9.5 million and took Harrison's contract ($33 million) to get the prospects they wanted from Texas. "We're in a world where teams are buying talent," Amaro said. "This is one of the ways we can use our economic muscle to buy talent. I think in a lot of ways that's what we did." Williams, 21, has some of the quickest bat speed in the Minors. MLBPipeline.com said he could be a .280 hitter with the potential for 20 home runs per season. "He's got a chance to be a real impact offensive player," Amaro said. "The hit tool has really become a bit of a separator for him amongst prospects out there." Scouts believe Alfaro, 22, has the best combination of raw power and arm strength among all Minor League catchers, but had season-ending ankle surgery in June. "We know the information from the Texas folks about his injury," Amaro said. "We felt comfortable that he's going to be fine. The beauty of Alfaro is that this guy is so athletic he can play another position, if the catching thing doesn't work out. But he's made great strides over the past few years, particularly with his work behind the plate. And we think he can impact us obviously behind the plate." Thompson, 21, has one of the best sliders in the Minors and his fastball sits in the 90-95 mph range. He went 6-6 with a 4.72 ERA in 17 starts with Frisco. Eickhoff, 25, went 9-4 with a 4.25 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) at Triple-A Round Rock. Asher, 23, went a combined 4-10 record with a 4.43 ERA in 20 starts with Frisco and Round Rock. "The pitching was very important to us," Amaro said. "They are all upper level guys who will pitch in the big leagues for us at some time. We just don't know how high. It depends how they will develop and develop here in the big leagues." Hamels led the Phillies to a World Series. The Phillies hope this group leads them to another. Time will tell. "I always wanted to be here fighting," Hamels said. "I think that's always what the motto has been: The Fighting Phils. I believed that and tried to live that. But I understand that this is the nature and this does happen and you have to accept it."
Phils Flip Revere – The Phillies acquired right-handed pitching prospects Alberto Tirado and Jimmy Cordero from the Blue Jays on Friday afternoon for outfielder Ben Revere in a move completed just prior to the 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline. Tirado, who slots in as the Phils' No. 15 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, is a 20-year-old who has transitioned into the bullpen over the past few years. He joined the Blue Jays' organization in 2012 as a 17-year-old starting pitcher. Tirado has spent this season at Class A Advanced Dunedin, where he's 4-3 with a 3.23 ERA in 31 appearances. Cordero is a 23-year-old reliever who has made 32 appearances combined at Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire this season. He's posted a 2.70 ERA and a mark of 8.3 K/9 in 50 innings. Cordero is still working on his control, though. He's thrown 23 wild pitches to go along with 80 strikeouts over the last two years. The Phillies are losing a speedy outfielder with strong contact-hitting ability in Revere. He batted .303 with 95 stolen bases and 157 runs scored in 335 games with Philadelphia. "Everyone has been saying that [the Blue Jays'] lineup is going to be real nice ... all I have to do is get on [base]. But like I said, with the pitching, too, their bullpen is great, they have a great starting staff -- adding [David] Price and everything," Revere said. "It's going to be fun. It's going to be a lot of fun. I just talked to [Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos], and he's really excited, and I'm really excited, too."
Are They Done? – The Phillies might not be finished making trades. They could trade Chase Utley, Aaron Harang, Jeff Francoeur and others before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline. Utley has received interest from teams, although he is on the disabled list with an injured right ankle. The Phillies have traded Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Papelbon, Ben Revere, Marlon Byrd, Jake Diekman and Antonio Bastardo since the organization began its rebuilding process in the offseason. Those seven veterans have netted the Phillies 13 players, including 12 Minor Leaguers (10 pitchers, one outfielder and one catcher). Utley will not get the Phillies the prospects he might have a year ago, but he could get the Phillies somebody of value. Of course, Utley would have to waive his no-trade rights to make it happen. He said in Spring Training if the Phillies started trading its core veterans he might have to rethink things and consider a trade. Maybe he will.
Prospects Offer Bright Future – The Phillies have waited and waited and waited to get the best deal possible for Cole Hamels, one that could help restock an organization thin on talent in the Majors and Minors. They finally did so on Friday, consummating an eight-player deal with the Rangers. Philadelphia sent Hamels, Jake Diekman and $9.5 million in cash to Texas for Matt Harrison and five prospects: right-handers Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher, outfielder Nick Williams and catcher Jorge Alfaro. Thompson (No. 60), Williams (No. 64) and Alfaro (No. 69) all rank among MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects. The Phils' system, which had fallen on hard times before the team began trading veterans for prospects last offseason, now has six Top 100 farmhands. Shortstop J.P. Crawford (No. 6) and Philadelphia's last two first-round picks, right-hander Aaron Nola (No. 22) and outfielder Cornelius Randolph (No. 99), already were on the list. Thompson, 21, has been traded twice in the last year after the Tigers shipped him and Corey Knebel to the Rangers for Joakim Soria last July. A second-round pick from a Texas high school in 2012, Thompson has one of the best sliders in the Minors and pairs it with a hard sinker that ranges from 90-95 mph. Thompson has gone 6-6 with a 4.72 ERA in 17 starts at Double-A Frisco this year, with a 78-30 K/BB ratio in 87 2/3 innings. Williams, 21, also was a second-rounder out of a Texas high school in 2012. He has one of the quickest bats in the Minors and has made huge strides with his plate discipline this year, giving him a chance to become a .280 hitter with 20 homers per season along with solid speed and defense. Williams batted .299/.357/.479 with 13 homers and 10 steals in 97 games at Frisco. Alfaro, 22, signed for a Colombian-record $1.3 million in 2010. No Minor League catcher can beat his combination of raw power and arm strength, though his hitting and receiving skills still need a lot of polish. Alfaro hit .253/.314/.432 with five homers in 49 games at Frisco before season-ending ankle surgery in June. Eickhoff, 25, went from a 15th-round pick from Olney Central (Ill.) JC in 2011 to leading the Double-A Texas League with 144 strikeouts in 2014. His best pitch is a 91-97 mph fastball and he'll also flash a plus curveball and solid slider. Eickhoff has spent most of this season at Triple-A Round Rock, going 9-4 with a 4.25 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) with a 107/36 K/BB ratio in 111 2/3 innings. Asher, 23, was a fourth-round choice out of Polk (Fla.) CC in 2012. He can hit 96 mph with his fastball but usually operates at 89-93 mph, backing it up with an average slider and changeup. Asher has split this year between Frisco and Round Rock, compiling a 4-10 record with a 4.43 ERA in 20 starts and a 97/37 K/BB ratio in 107 2/3 innings. All five prospects could arrive in the big leagues before the end of 2016. If they all reach their ceilings, the Phillies could have a No. 2 starter (Thompson), a pair of All-Star position players (Williams, Alfaro) and a pair of workhorse starters for the back half of their rotation (Eickhoff, Asher). Of course, not all prospects will fulfill their potential, but Philadelphia has a lot more building blocks than it did before the trade and also saves roughly $35 million in the difference between the commitments to Hamels and Harrison. From the Rangers' perspective, Hamels gives them a front-line starter who's locked up through 2019 and can headline what could be a formidable long-term rotation should Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Martin Perez return to full health. Texas was able to acquire the three-time All-Star and 2008 National League Championship Series and World Series MVP without sacrificing either of its cornerstone prospects, third baseman Joey Gallo or outfielder Nomar Mazara. The Rangers' impressive prospect depth allowed them to retain Gallo and Mazara while still satisfying the Phils.
Looking Back At Hamels’ Legacy – The walls of the home manager's office at Citizens Bank Park are dotted by pictures of special players and moments from Phillies history. The photo that hangs closest to the desk was taken on the night of Oct. 29, 2008. The Phillies had just beaten the Rays to win the World Series. On the left is first baseman Ryan Howard, holding the trophy. On the right is Cole Hamels, clutching the Most Valuable Player award. In the background is the red sports car he received for winning it. Hamels had also been voted MVP of the National League Championship Series. So it's hardly a stretch to suggest that without him the Phils would likely also be without exactly half of the World Series championships they've won in 132 years of doing business. By itself, that's enough reason for pause for a moment on the day Hamels was officially traded to the Rangers and appreciate the impact he's had on Philadelphia since becoming the Phillies' first-round Draft pick, 17th overall, in 2002. But there's more, much more, than that. Hamels won over a blue-collar city despite his California upbringing and surfer dude good looks. He was adopted, in a way, by a fan base who watched him grow from a gangly teen to the best pitcher the organization has developed since Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. Of course, it helped that Hamels was really good, a three-time All-Star. It helped that he settled down in the area and raised his family here and was generous in his charitable works. The biggest reason Hamels was embraced, though, is that he was a lot more of a Philly guy than he appeared at first glance. He earned the respect of the working-class customers because he rarely let irritation or displeasure or frustration show after his lineup, once again, failed to provide him with more than a run or two. Philadelphia fans expect a lot of their highly-paid professional athletes. They didn't expect any more from Hamels than he expected from himself. "One of the things that I think was a little bit of his Achilles' heel was that he expected perfection from himself every single time out. And when he wasn't, it annoyed him. And you could tell on the mound that it bothered him. But if I'm a fan watching a guy perform, that's what I'm impressed by," said general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., a Philadelphia native. "A lot of people said things about him being a prima donna and all this other business. Hollywood Hamels. I will tell you this. We've had some very, very competitive players play here in Philadelphia. I would put him up against any player we've had and any athlete we've had here in Philadelphia." A favorite personal memory: July 22, 2010, was a brutally hot and humid day at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The temperature at first pitch for the afternoon game was announced as 92 degrees, and it climbed as the game continued under the harsh sun. The Phillies, on the other hand, were ice cold. They'd lost four straight and six of their previous seven to fall seven games out of first place, just two games over .500. Despite the miserable conditions, Hamels was brilliant. He allowed just one hit in eight shutout innings. The Phils eventually won, 2-0, in 11 innings. Then-manager Charlie Manuel pointed to that game as the launching pad for all that followed. "I still go back to that real hot day in St. Louis. I think that's the day that turned him around," he said. "It was scorching. We couldn't get a run for him and he kept right on pitching. He didn't say nothing. He wanted to be in the game. The success he had that day, especially against that lineup, I think that brought him right back where he wanted to be." It certainly was a turning point for the team, which went 49-19 (.721) the rest of the way. Hamels also showed that he was human, something everybody can relate to. In February 2005, he got into a bar fight -- he said he was protecting his teammates who were also there -- and his invitation to big league camp was revoked as a result. After Hamels' breakthrough season, he went 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA in 2009. Late in the playoffs, he said he couldn't wait for the season to be over. Since there was still the chance Hamels might make another start if the Phillies staved off elimination, it was misinterpreted by some to mean he hoped his team lost. Along the way, Hamels became part of the tapestry of the city, like Billy Penn's hat and Boathouse Row and Independence Hall. His departure leaves a noticeable hole in that fabric. Hamels, Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley were the core of the Phils' teams that ended up winning five straight NL East titles from 2007-11 and two pennants in that span. Rollins, the Phillies' all-time hits leader and the best shortstop ever to wear the uniform, was traded to the Dodgers last winter. Now Hamels is gone, too. They're breaking up that old gang of theirs. Howard and Utley, the best first baseman and second basemen in team history, could be next. It's necessary. It's time. Still, watching those who played such an integral role creating the best run of sustained excellence the Phils have had in their 132 years of business is jarring. And not just to fans. "One of the difficulties in trading a guy like Hamels is what he's meant to the organization over the years. There is nothing easy at all about these decisions and trades. Rollins. Hamels. They're difficult because these are iconic players for our organization," Amaro said. Later Friday night, Pat Burrell was added to the Phillies' Wall of Fame. It won't be long after Hamels retires before he's honored there, too.
Burrell Returns To The Bank – Pat Burrell's wit spared no one. He mocked his closest friends. He picked on his former managers, juxtaposing the even-keeled Charlie Manuel against the quick-tempered Larry Bowa. He even joked about the sometimes fractured relationship between him and the media. But make no mistake. Friday night at Citizens Bank Park wasn't about Burrell's friends or managers or flaws. Friday night was about Burrell. Burrell became the 37th member of the Phillies' organization inducted onto the Phillies' Wall of Fame on Friday night, following in Manuel's footsteps as the second member of the 2008 World Series team to be immortalized in Ashburn Alley. The first pick of the 1998 MLB Draft, Burrell finished his career with 251 home runs as a Phillie, fourth all time only behind Mike Schmidt, Del Ennis and former teammate Ryan Howard. Despite his high ranks on the all-time Phillies offensive leaderboard and the instrumental role he played in the 2008 postseason, not limited to driving in the winning run of the World Series, Burrell doesn't see himself as belonging in the company he just joined. "I was here for a long time and every year they put a new name up there: Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt and all these guys," Burrell said. "You just never think that you're in the same group as them. To be in that group is a huge honor." Many members of the group Burrell is honored to join were in attendance Friday night as Carlton, Schmidt, Bowa, Manuel, Jim Bunning and more were in attendance to help usher him into the Wall of Fame. Jason Michaels and former teammate Nick Punto, his close friends and roommates from his early playing days, both attended as well, having the honors of revealing his plaque. Pre-taped messages from Royals legend George Brett and former Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery were also showed in honor of Burrell, with the latter of which memorializing Burrell's bond with John Vukovich. After those messages, Vukovich's three granddaughters, along with Chase Utley, came out to award Burrell with a miniature version of his plaque. Burrell also thanked the San Francisco Giants, the organization that hired him to be a scout after he retired. Recently however, Burrell stepped away from scouting, saying he had grown tired of the grind of travelling and said he "needed some time to figure out what [he was] doing." As many unknowns as there are surrounding Burrell's future, there are far less surrounding the future of the Phillies Wall of Fame. Many of Burrell's former teammates will undoubtedly join him on the wall someday. And when asked what it meant to be the first of the group to be inducted, Burrell scoffed at the idea of first meaning anything other than age. "I'm just the first guy to retire," Burrell said. "You have to wait four years. I don't think I'd be the first choice if all those guys retired the same time I did."
The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 40-64. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance so far this season, this could end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 63-42-0 on this day.