Earlier this week, the Phillies announced that four new color analysts are expected to join play-by-play announcer Scott Franzke on the radio for road games in 2022. All four are former Phillies, although none had a particularly long career in Philadelphia.
Despite their relatively short Phillies tenures, all four of these men were important to the franchise at one point, in one way or another. Here’s a quick overview of the brief but meaningful Phillies careers of Michael Bourn, Chad Durbin, Erik Kratz and Kevin Stocker.
Michael Bourn (2006-2007)
Michael Bourn had the most successful major league career of this bunch, but the shortest Phillies career. That being said, he may actually be the most important of these players to the franchise’s success.
Bourn was drafted by the Phillies in 2003, and he was first called up to the majors in 2006. However, he recorded just 11 plate appearances in 17 games that season. His official rookie season came the following year, when he opened the season on the major league roster. He mostly served as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement that season — he recorded just 133 PA in 105 games. His hitting was unremarkable (.277/.348/.378 with 1 home run), but he did steal 18 bases, which is very impressive considering how sparingly he played. He’s the only Phillie to steal 15+ bases in fewer than 150 PA since the 1800s.
He appeared in 2 games of the 2007 NLDS, coming in as a pinch runner for Greg Dobbs in game one and as a pinch hitter for Kyle Lohse in game two. He went 0-for-1.
While Bourn had a solid rookie season for the NL East-winning Phillies, his most important contribution to the franchise came the following offseason, when he was traded to the Houston Astros (along with Mike Costanzo and Geoff Geary) in exchange for Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett.
Brad Lidge, of course, was a key contributor to the World Series champion Phillies team in 2008. (Funnily enough, he was also a name that was bandied about as a possible color analyst for the Phillies radio team.) Bruntlett played a role in that championship too. Thus, it’s possible that without Michael Bourn, the Phillies would not have won the World Series in 2008.
Perhaps the Phillies hired him just so they could trade him again and jumpstart their next postseason run...
Chad Durbin (2008-2010, 2013)
Chad Durbin had the longest major league career of these four players. He also has the distinction of being the only World Series champion.
While Durbin was mostly a replacement-level pitcher throughout his career, he had one great season in 2008, when he was a major contributor to the Phillies bullpen.
Chad Durbin signed with the Phillies in December 2007, hoping to earn spot in the starting rotation. Instead, he found himself in the bullpen, making 2008 the first full season of his career as a reliever. He found success in that new role, pitching 87.2 innings — more than any other pitcher in the Phillies bullpen that season, and more than any Phillies reliever has thrown since. His 2.87 ERA ranked 19th out of 75 qualified NL relievers.
Durbin didn’t pitch very much in the postseason that year — just 0.2 IP in the World Series and 3.1 overall.
He was unable to recapture his 2008 success in 2009, when he pitched 69.2 innings with a 4.39 ERA and a 5.14 FIP. In 2010, however, he performed somewhat better, putting up a 3.80 ERA and 3.97 FIP in 68.2 innings.
Durbin left the Phillies in 2011, but re-signed with the team two years later. He struggled mightily to start the 2013 season, allowing 16 earned runs in 16 innings pitched, and he would announce his retirement later that year.
Erik Kratz (2011-2013, 2015)
Unlike the other three names on this list, Erik Kratz never played in any postseason games for the Phillies, nor was he involved in any noteworthy trades. Nevertheless, Kratz is a memorable name in Philadelphia thanks to his surprisingly strong rookie season in 2012 at 32 years old (and a few unforgettable turkey bacon commercials).
Erik Kratz was drafted in 2002, but did not make his way to the major leagues until 2010, when he appeared in 9 games for the Pirates. He signed a minor league deal with the Phillies ahead of the 2011 season, but he only appeared in 2 MLB games that year.
Kratz would get his big break the following season, after Carlos Ruiz wound up on the injured list. Carlos Ruiz had been the Phillies best hitter in the first half of 2012, and Kratz filled in remarkably well. He appeared in 50 games and put up an .809 OPS with 9 home runs.
In 2013, Erik Kratz opened the season as the starting catcher while Carlos Ruiz served a 25-game suspension. Kratz hit adequately for the first half of the season (.726 OPS, 8 HR), but struggled in the second half after returning from a knee injury (.517 OPS, 1 HR).
From 2014-2015, Kratz spent time with the Blue Jays, Royals, Red Sox, and Mariners, before re-signing with the Phillies in summer 2015. He spent several weeks with the Iron Pigs before joining the Phillies for September call-ups. In 12 games, he recorded 5 hits in 22 at-bats.
All baseball playing aside, Kratz is most fondly remembered in Philadelphia for his Godshall’s turkey bacon commercials.
Kratz would eventually retire in 2020, after switching teams a total of 18 times. While it can’t be said that Erik Kratz was ever a remarkable ballplayer, he certainly had a uniquely impressive career.
Kevin Stocker (1993-1997)
Kevin Stocker had the longest Phillies career of any of these guys (5 seasons) and he was an important member of the 1993 pennant-winning team, although his Phillies career ended well before plenty of today’s fans were even born.
Stocker’s best season was his rookie year, when he hit .324/.409/.417 in 302 PA. He finished 6th in Rookie of the Year voting and started at shortstop for every game of the 1993 playoff run.
His 125 OPS+ that season remains the highest that a Phillies shortstop has ever recorded (min. 300 PA).
Unfortunately, he was pretty unremarkable from 1994 to 1997, hitting just .252 with a .675 OPS and 12 home runs in 475 games.
Similar to Michael Bourn, Kevin Stocker was also involved in a pretty big trade. The Phillies sent Stocker to the brand-new Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays in exchange for outfielder Bobby Abreu, whom Tampa Bay had selected in the expansion draft.
Abreu would go on to play 9 seasons for the Phillies with a .928 OPS and 195 home runs, while Stocker would retire at age 30 after three more mediocre seasons, so it’s safe to say the Phillies won that trade.
In addition to having the longest Phillies career, Kevin Stocker also has the most broadcasting experience of the four new color analysts. In fact, he previously held this same job back in 2018 when he was one of the three Kevins on the radio broadcast (the others being Kevin Frandsen and Kevin Jordan).
While this seems like a good group of hires, I can’t help but wish that the Phillies had considered some of my suggestions, like Shane Victorino, Matt Klentak, or Pat Burrell after four beers. Oh well, maybe next time.