Who’s ready to pass another baseball-less week by discussing a fictional tournament and an unfortunately non-fictional Jeff Juden?
Random thought about the Phillies
It isn’t clear why the Phillies were given such an advantageous first round opponent. Sure, there are some talented players on the U-25 team, but they couldn’t possibly compare to the best players from a franchise with almost 150 years of history. The Phillies have a few Hall of Famers on the squad, and they’re going against a bunch of guys who mostly have just a season or two under their belts. I mean, Steve Carlton vs. Jack Flaherty isn’t exactly an even matchup.
I’m guessing John Middleton had to call in some favors for this one. Unfortunately, they’ll have a tougher time of it in the next round. Based on historical success, I’m predicting the Cardinals to beat the Rockies, and I have a feeling Stan Musial and Albert Pujols will be a tougher out than Pete Alonso and Carlos Correa were.
Random thought that is definitely not about the Phillies
Thanks to the variety of streaming services available, most of us are able to suitably entertain ourselves during this pandemic. But if this stretches on long enough, we’re eventually going to run out of new content. Sure, there’s an insanely large backlog of programming for us to watch, but anyone clamoring for new movies or new episodes of their favorite shows are probably going to be out of luck soon enough. (The children of today will finally be forced to learn what a rerun is.)
To avoid this drought, maybe movies can just shift production to South Korea or one of the other countries that seems to be on the right side of the curve. I suppose they could also try going to Florida, since standards on what makes a business “essential” are a little looser down there.
Mediocre moments in Phillies history
This week’s unmemorable game is from August 4, 1995 when the Phillies traveled to Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium to take on the Reds.
The 1995 team is one of the more confusing editions in franchise history. Still technically the defending NL Champs thanks to the players’ strike the year before, they started off the season playing as if they wanted to keep that title for another season. On June 25th, they had a National League-best 37-18 record and had a 4.5 game lead in the East.
The good times did not last. The Phillies were awful the rest of the season, and would finish a disappointing 69-75. By August, they were well into the free fall, and this game was the third loss in what eventually became an eight-game losing streak.
There weren’t many highlights in this one. The Reds scored a first inning run, and were held scoreless the rest of the way. Unfortunately, the Phillies’ offense was stymied by veteran John Smiley and three relievers who limited them to five hits and zero runs.
The biggest moment of excitement for the Phillies may have come with two outs in the ninth when pinch hitter (the immortal) Lenny Webster hits a deep fly ball. The ball might have been out of some of today’s modern parks, but in cavernous Riverfront Stadium, it fell short.
While this wasn’t a great game, it was far from the worst the Phillies would give us over the next few years. (Rock bottom came in the first half of 1997.) Unfortunately, it was becoming clear that bad times were ahead.
Phormer Phillie phile: Jeff Juden
The Phillies’ starter for that game: Jeff Juden. And while he pitched pretty well in that game, it was not indicative of his overall career.
The team’s general manager at the time was Lee Thomas, and if there’s one thing he liked, it was large-bodied pitchers. If the guy was taller than 6’5”, there was a good chance that Thomas was going to try to trade for him. (Of course there was one tall pitcher who Thomas famously didn’t trade for.) Juden stood 6’7”, so it was a no-brainer for Thomas to pursue him.
Juden had been the Astros top draft pick in 1989, but fell out of favor in Houston, and was sent to the Phillies (along with closer Doug Jones) in exchange for Mitch Williams prior to the 1994 season. At the time, this seemed like a great deal for the Phillies. They got a young pitcher who was a top 50 prospect two years earlier in exchange for a pariah. Unfortunately, when a trade seems too good to be true, there’s usually a catch.
To be sure, Juden had talent, and would sometimes showcase it both on the mound and at the plate.
Unfortunately, a variety of injuries as well as a poor attitude (and possibly a drinking problem) kept him from reaching his potential. He ran afoul of manager Jim Fregosi who at one point removed him from the starting rotation. When asked for justification of the move, Fregosi called Juden a fat, lazy slob. Considering some of the other players who suited up for Fregosi, you might have thought he meant it as a compliment, but he assuredly did not.
Large frame or not, Thomas quickly realized that Juden wasn’t going to succeed in Philadelphia. After the 1995 season, Thomas traded him for utility infielder Mike Benjamin.
Please make your guesses in the comments
How many home runs did Mike Benjamin hit as a member of the Phillies?
The results of the Phillies vs. Cardinals Dream Bracket showdown will be out in a couple of days. I never thought that was something I might actually look forward to, but until baseball (and Young Sheldon) start cranking out new episodes, that’s all I’ve got.