Replaced By a Franchise Hero

Replaced by a Franchise Hero: Dernier/Samuel Combo

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, January 07, 2013 12:00 PM Comments: 10

http://i1245.photobucket.com/albums/gg591/MrsBriDavis/AAS/AAS1931.jpgAh, 1989: the U.S. inaugurated a new president, Thomas and Friends begins to air on PBS, and the top played song was “Look Away” by Chicago. Around the world, Hirohito passed away, Poland had free elections, the Berlin Wall fell, and the world made Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” the top played song across the globe. It was a pretty big year around the world: holes were being blown through the Iron Curtain as the Cold War wound down. It all makes what the Phillies were going through look pretty small.

The 1989 Phillies entered the season with few expectations and little talent. Mike Schmidt was entering his age 39 season, coming off his worst season since his rookie year. Two seasons removed from his 3.9 fWAR 1987 and three from his 5.0 fWAR 1986, the expectations and mood surrounding Von Hayes had officially turned sour. And the team inexplicably traded away their 29-year old center fielder who looked like he was putting the pieces together to be a strong everyday player (Milt Thompson) for a back-up catcher whose claim to fame is a trading card where he is featured with his pet cockatoo (Steve Lake) and a utility outfielder who was out of the Major Leagues before the end of the 1990 season (Curt Ford).

In hindsight, there are a surprising amount of parallels between the world and the Phillies in 1989, with it being understood that the Phillies positive changes were about 1/1,000,000,000th as positive on the scale of global contribution. Although the song “Wind of Change” by German rockers the Scorpions would not be released until 1991, there was a lot of pretty positive change about to take place both across the world and in the Phillies locker room.

Continue reading Replaced by a Franchise Hero: Dernier/Samuel Combo


Replaced by a Franchise Hero: Desi Relaford

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Fri, December 28, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 19


Relaford was a top prospect with the Mariners. He was replaced by an even higher regarded prospect in Rollins.

We continue our series of exploring the careers of the guys who were replaced by our favorites by taking a look at Desi Relaford, who was replaced by Jimmy Rollins.

The Hero

Sitting fourth all-time in franchise history in hits (only 210 behind first place Mike Schmidt), third in runs, second in doubles (just 21 behind Ed Delahanty), fourth in triples, third in steals, and 11th in HRs, Rollins is perhaps the most underrated player in Phillies history. He has compiled offensive stats at a rate that is good enough to quietly sneak him in the conversation of Best Shortstop of His Era, but not win: from 2000 to 2012, Rollins has accumulated more fWAR than any player to play shortstop not named Derek Jeter.

While his offense has been very good, .270/.328/.432, his defense and his base-running truly put him in the elite class of all-times Phillies players. His 403 steals from 2000-2012 rank second among shortstops and the 79.2 runs he created on the base paths are tops among shortstops in that time period. And while Gold Glove awards have turned into awards based on reputation, Rollins has four of them, and has saved the Phillies 40.8 runs with his glove in his time here.

What I, and many others, remember Rollins for, however, was 2007. Rollins famously declared preseason that the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East and not the New York Mets, who were a ninth inning Yadier Molina homer and a run of their own away from reaching the World Series just the year before. The Phillies finished just three games behind the Dodgers for the Wild Card after a late charge led by 2006 MVP Ryan Howard. Rollins’ moxy, or swag as the kids call it now, seemed a little shortsighted at the time. The Mets had pitching, hitting, a bullpen, and defense. The Phillies were banking on Rollins, Howard, Chase Utley, who was just coming into his own, a few promising arms, and not much else. Continue reading Replaced by a Franchise Hero: Desi Relaford


Replaced by a Franchise Hero: Don Money

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Wed, December 26, 2012 12:45 PM Comments: 19

http://www.itsalreadysigned4u.com/shop/media/images/product_detail/ape-money-don-8x10.jpgA lot of the Phillies’ offseason discussion has boiled down to one question: how does Player X compare to Player Y, whom he is replacing? It is a valid and particularly useful tool when projecting wins and predicting improvement for a club. The Phillies have a particularly strong canon of historically popular players that most of the city’s fans rally around. This canon definitively includes, but is not limited to, Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Richie Ashburn, and Robin Roberts and may soon make room for Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.

There are a few articles out there about how teams fared once their golden geese proverbially went South. Most teams, like the Phillies and Schmidt, struggled to find even league-average play at times to replace their superstar, even as their superstar is declining. The Phillies mixed and matched Charlie Hayes and Steve Jeltz after Schmidt retired after 172 plate appearances into 1989 before stumbling upon Dave Hollins in that offseason’s Rule 5 draft to shore up the Hot Corner for a sizable chunk of the next five seasons.

What I have not seen a whole lot of are a lot of words written about who these superstars replaced. (Note: Being a baseball reading junkie, please correct me if I am wrong because I would love to read more). Yes, the Lou Gehrig for Wally Pipp change is well documented and Mickey Mantle famously took the reigns in center field at Yankee Stadium from Joe DiMaggio after sharing time there in 1951, but there is little else, particularly about our favorite red pin-striped ballplayers.
Continue reading Replaced by a Franchise Hero: Don Money