Hey, Remember the ’90s?
When you’re talking about the Phillies, that’s generally not a good thing. Yes, there was 1993….and that’s it. And then there were those post-1994 years when the team was amazingly dreadful under Terry Francona. I do have somewhat fond memories of those years because that’s about when I got my license and could drive over the bridge to see the Phillies whenever I wanted, park for free, pay $5 for a ticket and have my own section in the 700 level because no one wanted to see them play. However, you also knew that anyone there was a real fan, not there to party as it seems like these days at CBP (or at least until this year).
But I digress. The reason I bring up the ’90s is that the Phillies could be headed back in that direction for a while. Now, I don’t think it will be quite that bad or last that long considering the financial resources the team has now, but you never know. New Phillie pitcher Jerome Williams got me thinking about this, because he’s the kind of pitcher that would find a home on, say, the 1997 Phillies. He was released by two teams this year (one being the Houston Astros) and the Phillies picked him up. And now that he’s had a few good starts, there’s talk about bringing him back next year. Granted, he’s been quite good for the Phils, especially his last start. His ERA is now at 1.77 with a WHIP under 1.0. And maybe he will be good for the rest of the year, and I wish him the best. But when a guy is 32 and has pitched in the big leagues for as long as he has, it’s extraordinarily rare for a pitcher to suddenly do better than his career averages. For Williams that would be an ERA of 4.45 and a WHIP of 1.362. Could he be a 5th starter? Sure, because he and Kendrick have career averages that are very similar and I think we’re all tired of Kyle Kendrick around here. We’re a long way away from the four-aces era.
The point is, though, that it’s not a good sign the Phillies are considering a guy with those kinds of numbers. Next year’s rotation is looking quite scary at this point. You have Hamels (probably), Lee (almost probably) and then a bunch of question marks: Burnett? Buchanan, a free agent, Kendrick? If they had some solid young guys about to step in, that would be one thing, but they really don’t. And are they rebuilding? Not rebuilding? No one seems to know. They still seem to be trying to win instead of looking to the future, like not playing Ruf.
So, just for fun, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and look at the staff for that Phillies team which had a team ERA of 4.85. Our number one that year was Curt Schilling, so that’s good. He had an excellent year that year. After that, it’s a long way down. Good ol’ Mark Leiter with an ERA of 5.67 is next. He made 31 starts that year with those numbers. He’s like the Dom Brown of starting pitching. Matt Beech with an ERA of 5.07. Then Garrett Stephenson who was a bright spot that year. I remember him well. He had a great changeup but later had a falling out with the manager and wound up in St. Louis. Tyler Green was still hanging around with an ERA of 4.93. Hey, at least it was under 5. Lastly, with 13 starts that year, was the legendary Calvin Maduro with an ERA of 7.23 and a WHIP of 1.746. Other non-notables on the team include Ruben Amaro, Jr., Ricky Otero, Midre Cummings, the legendary Danny Tartabull, and Scott Rolen’s friend from the minor leagues, Kevin Sefcik.
Okay, so the Phillies of today won’t be nearly this bad, and that’s a good thing.