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2017 Phillies player review: Pat Neshek

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Well done, Pat. Well done...

MLB: All-Star Game Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It started with an eagle.

You just knew that Pat Neshek’s season was going to be special when he, like many other baseball fans, became so wrapped up in the patriotism and camaraderie that the World Baseball Classic promoted. The elegance of that statue, the “not at all gaudy” aura that it projected, just makes everyone that touches it that much better. That simple statue, in all of its glory, could only portend the great things that were to come.

When the Phillies traded for Neshek, we all knew why. He was a mercenary. A man brought in to provide effective innings that would cause another team to ante up with a prospect haul that would make the Phillies want to deal him. His salary ($6.5 million) wasn’t exorbitant enough to make a dent in the team’s expenses, nor was it so high that other teams would be scared off of taking on the remainder of the contract. Management just had to hope that he would a) good, and b) healthy come the end of July.

He exceeded all of our expectations. By the end of the first half, he had a 1.27 ERA. Almost all of his peripherals suggested that that low of a number was not a fluke either. On a team full of (at the time) under performing players, he was good enough to be the lone representative of the Phillies at the All-Star Game in Miami. We devoted many pieces to this accomplishment. (You can find them all right here in this story stream.) It was obvious to everyone, fan and writer alike, that he had done everything that was asked of him to get the team a decent haul at the trading deadline.

Then he was gone.

Traded to the playoff bound Rockies to help reinforce their bullpen, Neshek completed his final act with aplomb. While it may not have been an Andrew Miller-esque return that many felt he was worth, he still managed to help the team acquire the necessary depth they will need once the promotion of prospects begins.

So, how do you grade this kind of performance?

Were we to assign an education-type “grade” to Neshek’s season, I’m not sure how it would be anything less than an A. Sure, there was that little kerfuffle about his not wanting to close, possibly to keep his own stat line in check when other teams came with final trade offers, but does that really matter? He was asked to perform his job and he did stupendously. You could argue that perhaps the team could have gotten a little more for him at the deadline, but we have to take into good faith that Matt Klentak took the best deal that was available for the team. There was no one that was going to offer up a top 50 prospect at the time for a player who was strictly a rental. So, by getting players that look to have some future value to the franchise, Klentak made out fairly well in the deal. Even still, that does little to diminish what Neshek brought to the team.

What he did bring was a certain measure of relief to his relief. In other words, when he came in a game, you were fairly certain that the game would remain just the way it was - either with the team in the lead or with the score exactly as it was at that time. Isn’t that really all you can ask out of a reliever? Sure we all want the guy who can throw 104 miles per hour, blowing people away at a rate never before seen in the game, but when all is said and done, we want our relievers to get outs. That’s what Neshek did. He got outs. He’s human, therefore he faltered at times, but on the whole, he was very good at his job.

The dark ages of the Phillies rebuilding is behind us. The team is no longer acquiring assets in order to simply fill in roster spots with warm bodies. They are now looking to actively gather players that will eventually be part of the next winning Phillies team. Therefore, the days of getting players like Neshek simply to bid them adieu in July are gone. So, we need to look back fondly on players who achieved that goal. His departure marked a turning of the page in the rebuild. We are all looking forward to what the next few chapters hold.