As we endure another week without baseball, I’ll take some time to celebrate a special anniversary. Later on, the Phillies’ former manager will stop by to dispense some advice on how to better enjoy social distancing.
Happy anniversary, Vinny!
This week marks the four-year anniversary of Vince Velasquez’s amazing 16 strikeout performance against the San Diego Padres. I realize that some of our newer readers who started following the team after April 2016 might have trouble believing this actually happened, but I assure you that it did.
This start (and possibly the fact that that trading for Velasquez was the general manager’s first big move) is likely the reason why Velasquez was still being considered for a spot in the 2020 Phillies rotation (You know, back when people thought we’d actually have a season).
Aside from that dazzling performance, what indication has Velasquez given that he might develop into a good starter? In his five-year career, he has an ERA of 4.67. After the 2018 season, some people believed (hoped?) he was improving because his FIP was a not-so-bad 3.75. But then in 2019, his FIP shot up to 5.21, and there was no metric that made his season seemed anything less than a disaster. It’s not a good sign that the best moment of his season came when he was playing left field.
Worse, his inability to pitch deep into games put a heavy toll on a bullpen that was decimated by injuries. For his career, Velasquez averages under five innings per start, and he pitched into the seventh inning a grand total of one time in 2019.
Some people hold out hope that he could be made into a good reliever (while others have doubts if he would even be good in the bullpen). But considering he’ll be 28 by the time the season likely starts, and it’s been four years since his lone dominant start, I don’t see any reason to give Velasquez another chance at being a starter.
Random Phillies stuff I found on YouTube
Here are pre-game introductions from a 1976 game at Veterans Stadium:
IMO, that place went downhill when they got rid of the fountains and giant scoreboards.
Social distancing tips with Gabe Kapler
As we endure another week without baseball, I wanted to change things up a bit. Social distancing can be difficult, and I’m sure many of us are having a tough time with it. With that in mind, I brought in a special guest who I thought might have some good advice to help get us through this.
Hey, gang. Kap here. I know many of you are stuck at home and probably feeling a little cramped. And that’s where one of my favorite baseball concepts comes into play: Finding value at the margins.
Just like a successful baseball team finds value where others do not, our homes contain hidden value that most people don’t take advantage of. Most of us spend the majority of our time in the middle of rooms. But what about the space directly along the walls? That’s perfectly good living space that is often neglected. That’s why at least three days out of every week, I spent at least 75 percent of my time sitting or standing directly against the walls. I’ve found it gives me a brand new perspective on my house and makes everything feel bigger and more open.
Mediocre games in Phillies history
As fans, we spend a lot of time celebrating the great moments in Phillies history. And because we get perverse joy out of disaster, a decent amount of time is spent on the truly awful moments as well. (The Good Phight even has a podcast dedicated to it!) But what about the majority of games and events that fall somewhere in between? Should those mundane moments be forgotten?
I say: No! Instead of featuring the greatest games in Phillies history, or those that were utter debacles, I’m going to take a look at some games that don’t quite fit into either of those categories.
For instance, here’s a contest against the Brewers from August 22, 2002:
The Phillies were going through a disappointing, but ultimately average 2002 season (Final record: 80-81). But on this day, some members of the team gave hope that better days were ahead.
Randy Wolf pitched eight shutout innings and also hit a home run. (Fast forward to 4:23 to see it) At 25 years of age, it looked like he was developing into a top-of-the-rotation starter. And the biggest offensive star on the day was Pat Burrell. In the third inning, he hit his 31st home run of the season (41:21), and the former top draft pick appeared to be taking his expected place as one of the National League’s premier sluggers.
In 2020, we know that Wolf was never able to establish himself as an elite starter, and was no longer on the team when the Phillies returned to the playoffs. And while Burrell’s career is probably underrated by many, he didn’t reach the level of superstardom that seemed inevitable in 2002. Yes, he was a member of the 2008 championship team, but his offensive role was more secondary to other players like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard.
Because of that - and the fact that the Phillies wouldn’t make it back to the playoffs for another five years - I’d say this game was a nice highlight in a disappointing season rather than a precursor of the glory years that would eventually come. #MyPhilliesAreAverage
Featured Phillies baseball card
Here’s a card featuring the Phillies’ top two draft picks from the 1999 draft. It features the aforementioned Burrell who went #1 overall, as well as Eric Valent, who was a compensation pick after the team failed to sign top pick J.D. Drew the year before.
Valent didn’t turn out to be much compensation. Drew didn’t live up to his pre-draft hype, but he was still a productive major leaguer. On the other hand, Valent batted .118 in two partial seasons with the Phillies.
If anyone follows Kapler’s advice, please let me know how it works out. Did your house feel bigger?