We’ve come to the eighth and final day of Chanukah, which means it’s time to wrap up my series on some of the players to have worn the number eight for the Phillies.
I hope nobody was disappointed that I didn’t cover the exploits of Paul Masterson, John Kennedy, Dale Sveum, Nick Punto, Alex Gonzalez, Jose Hernandez, Logan Morrison, Phil Gosselin, or Freddy Galvis (during his second stint with the team). Some of those guys had decent careers elsewhere, but none of them did enough with the Phillies to warrant much discussion.
Instead, I’ll discuss the men who wore the number eight for the last two Phillies teams to win the National League pennant.
Victorino came to the Phillies as a Rule 5 draft pick out of the Dodgers system. The Phillies’ acumen for finding him is somewhat discounted since they actually offered him back to the Dodgers who then declined the offer.
Here is the thing about Shane Victorino, Rule 5 pick, the Phillies offered him back to the Dodgers and the Dodgers said no https://t.co/0FR0ZBPdTL— Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman) December 10, 2020
The Phillies were able to keep Victorino in the minors for 2004 and most of 2005 until they deemed the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” ready to handle the right field job in 2006. He did well enough that after 2007, the team felt comfortable trading All-Star centerfielder Aaron Rowand and giving Victorino the center field job.
Victorino thrived, winning three straight Gold Gloves in centerfield. He also proved capable with the bat, twice leading the league in triples, and made two All-Star teams with the Phillies.
Victorino also played well the postseason. He hit six postseason home runs during his time with the Phillies, and his NLDS grand slam against CC Sabathia was one of the defining moments of the Phillies’ 2008 World Series run.
2008 NLDS Game 2, bottom of the 2nd inning.— John Foley (@2008Philz) November 13, 2022
Features CC Sabathia, Brett Myers, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, and the greatest fans in the world. pic.twitter.com/ZjG4XMm933
With Victorino due to be a free agent at the end of the 2012 season, the out-of-contention Phillies traded him to the Dodgers in July. He then signed with the Red Sox for whom he won another Gold Glove...and the World Series in 2013. After that, injuries started to hinder his performance and after two abbreviated seasons, he retired.
I expect that Victorino will one day end up on the Phillies’ Wall of Fame like some of the number eights before him.
I’m sure most of you reading this are well familiar with the current bearer of the number eight. I realize the same could probably be said about Victorino, but then I realized that some newer readers might not really remember him, and all of a sudden, I feel old.
After Victorino was traded, the eight went unclaimed for six seasons before Morrison took it for his 29-game stint in 2019. Gosselin and Galvis briefly wore the number during their time here, and then Castellanos put a claim on it after signing as a free agent before the 2022 season.
Castellanos has had an unusual career, in that the lasting memory of him will likely be an uncomfortably timed home run.
Here’s the full Thom Brenneman apology (and home run call), for context.pic.twitter.com/awE5ehZfTW— Korked Bats (@korkedbats) August 20, 2020
His Phillies career has been just as bizarre. He’s been an All-Star. He’s also looked like one of the worst players in baseball for lengthy stretches. He can be a butcher in the outfield, and then he’ll make a game-saving play the next day and tell everyone that Scooby Doo is his favorite superhero.
Unlike Victorino, he has not thrived in the playoffs. He batted .184 with no home runs throughout the 2022 postseason. It looked like he was going to redeem himself in 2023 when he hit two home runs in consecutive games against the Braves. But in the NLCS, the Diamondbacks decided they weren’t going to throw any more strikes to him, and he obliged by swinging at just about anything. He concluded the playoffs on an 0-23 streak.
Nick Castellanos: 0-23 in last 23 at bats. Trea Turner: 4 straight hitless games. There’s your series right there— Oliver (@ootto215) October 25, 2023
He’s signed for three more years, so hopefully he gets a chance to redeem himself for those postseason failures. However, there have been some rumors that the Phillies are willing to trade him, so there’s the possibility that we’ll see a new number eight in red pinstripes sooner than we expected.
That wraps up the Crazy Eights series. I hope this has been an enjoyable enough trip down memory lane for you, or a chance to learn more about players from before your time. If you have a personal favorite number eight, please feel free to share in the comments!