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2017 Phillies player review: The Dearly Departed

Joaquin...Michael...Jeanmar...Clay...Howie, we hardly knew ye

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are gathered here today to remember those that we lost during the season. The names are many, but the memories are few. Just as a shooting star shines brightly in the night, then passes out of sight and out of mind, so too have these players past from our collective memory. You know them:

Joaquin Benoit
Michael Saunders
Jeanmar Gomez
Clay Buchholz
Howie Kendrick

Each was but a fleeting blip on the team’s 40 man roster. With the exception of Kendrick, not one provided the team with anything approaching a positive contribution. The damage done is here:

The Hitters

H. Kendrick .340/.397/.454 0.369 127 1.0
M. Saunders .207/.257/.360 0.262 56 -0.7

The Pitchers

C. Buchholz 7.1 7.35 4.79 7.5% 12.5% 0.1
J. Benoit 42 4.25 3.80 9.4% 25.2% 0.6
J. Gomez 22.1 5.11 6.56 7.0% 21.0% -0.5

The plan for these players was simple: have them be good enough to be worth something at the trade deadline. It was plainly obvious when each was acquired what their ultimate destination was. In a perfect world, each would be bound for the highest bidder, preferably one with playoff aspirations that was desperate for that one bat off the bench, that fifth starter who could win an important September ballgame, or that mid-inning arm to come out of the bullpen. Alas, it was not meant to be. Succumbing to injuries, ineffectiveness or just outright “he was bad”-ness, not one was able to finish the season on the playing field of Citizens Bank Park.

As we mourn the loss of not only salary, but time wasted on cleaning their jerseys, let us remember that all was not lost in their endeavors. Whether you want to admit it or not, they did serve their purpose in this world. Now, ignore your impulse to think that they had no purpose. You will probably always think of these players as the ones who prevented promotions that were richly deserved. Yes, I will admit, I was one of the people clamoring for the “kids” to come up. Looking back on the situation now, we have to pause and wonder aloud: Is it possible that those players simply weren’t ready, necessitating their acquisitions on the first place? Hindsight is 20/20, but did you know Rhys Hoskins would do what he did in his first 50 games?

Did I?

Did they?

No. Instead, it is entirely possible (and entirely plausible) that Hoskins, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro and J.P. Crawford were brought up at exactly the right time in their development. Would you, a patron of this team, have still purchased a Hoskins shirsey if he had come up and hit with a .650 OPS in his first 50 games? Would you still think of Williams’ smile in the same light if he was hitting only .230? Would you still have settled for Alfaro’s 2.6% walk rate and 28.9% strikeout rate had he not hit .318/.360/.514?

So, as we move past these dearly departed former Phillies, let us remember that their purpose was ultimately served. For a meager $43.2 million, the Phillies were able to make sure that these goals were ultimately served:

  1. The players that were going to be the future were ready to come up and stay up when the time was right.
  2. They were able to acquire some interesting assets in return for this roster filler. Seth McGarry. McKenzie Mills. That always coveted international bonus money. These are what teams do when they are rebuilding. They turn players that will ultimately not be needed into things that will, eventually, be useful. The two players may never amount to much, or they might provide roster depth. That international money may go toward signing a Latin American player who can help the team in win in 2022.

So, as we depart this day with a clear heart, let us remember. The dark times are behind us. Let us fully appreciate what these players were able to bring to the franchise and their eventual success, whether it was out on the field or behind the scenes.