As the stench of the 2012 season continues to linger, the start of the playoffs adds another sting to Phillies nation. While many fans will choose not to watch the post-season without the Phillies participating, I for one will be watching. As a baseball junkie the playoffs bring an added sense of urgency that’s lacking from most regular season games. It features the best of the best, and more of them this year with the added wild-card teams in each league. But, if you can’t get behind watching this October simply for the love of the game, there are plenty of former Phils abound to keep any Philadelphian interested.
The Braves feature a couple of former Phillies in CF Michael Bourn and reliever Chad Durbin. Bourn is an interesting name to watch if the Braves can advance, as he will also be showcasing his talents for potential suitors (free agent to be). If Bourn is able to get on base consistently for the Braves they could be a very dangerous team.
Durbin is a bit of an afterthought on the Braves team, but he’s been a valuable middle innings guy for the Atlanta this year. With managers quick to give the hook in the post-season, guys like Durbin will play important roles for every team.
Remember when the Phillies traded Jim Thome to the Orioles? Thome’s swan song ended abruptly in Philadelphia when Ruben Amaro realized he couldn’t play first. The Phils did the classy thing, and traded him to then-contender Baltimore. Finding a place for Thome to play everyday was the right move, but most fans and analysts never thought the Orioles would stay in the race for the long haul. Fast forward to October and Thome and O’s are battling the Rangers in the wild-card matchup. Former Phil Endy Chavez has been roaming the outfield for the O’s as well, putting his glove and fast feet to good use.
Everyones favorite utility infielder, Wilson Valdez, is still patrolling the infield for the Reds. While rookie Zach Cozart gets the starting nod at short stop, Valdez’s defense is a valuable asset for Dusty Baker late in games. Utility man Miguel Cairo, another former utility man for the Phils, keeps chugging along at the ripe old age of 38. His sub .200 batting average might keep him off the playoff roster, but Cairo’s veteran leadership and versatility will make it a tough decision for Dusty.
New York Yankees
The Yankees are back in the playoffs again, which is no major shocker. They had to hold off the Orioles in the last weekend, but still managed to add another division crown to their sparkly mantle. One of the big surprises of the Yankees season was the hitting of Raul Ibanez. The 40-year old outfielder/DH slugged 19 home runs in a part time role for the Yanks, and should find his way into Joe Girardi’s lineup. Could’ve used his bat after all Ruben.
San Francisco Giants
Hunter Pence has struggled to say the least since joining San Fran, but still finds himself back in the post-season. The Giants rely on their pitching and timely hitting, which fits well with the often low scoring nature of the playoffs, but Pence will have to come through if the G-men want to move on. I haven’t decided whether to root for or against Pence. He was asked to do to much this year for the Phils, but still put up good numbers in the red pinstripes. One player often lost in the shuffle of former Phillies is pitcher Ryan Vogelsong. The Kutztown native pitched a year in AAA for the Phillies, but was cut since Ruben didn’t think he had enough left in the tank (Woops!) Vogelsong makes the Giants rotation 4-deep, and could provide help in relief if needed in the Division series.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Red Birds square off with the Braves tonight in the much anticipated wild card playoff. Taking the mound for St. Louis will be none other than Kyle Lohse. Most Phils fans remember his dual in last years division series against the Phillies, but Lohse also had a post-season appearance for the Phillies back in 2007. Lohse served up a grand-slam in game 2 to the Rockies that year that sealed the Phillies fate. In true Philly sports fashion, Lohse has resurrected his career in St. Louis, and is having a stellar season. Despite his success, there is no way I can bring myself to root for the right-hander despite my hatred of the Braves. It’s Patriots vs. Giants all over again.
Once a part of the Phillies feared foursome, Roy Oswalt now finds himself as a long man on the Rangers playoff roster. The diminutive Texan could find his way into the rotation should the Rangers advance. Their starting pitching has been shaky at best, contributing to their collapse at the hand of the Athletics. Oswalt is good story heading into the playoffs, as he is hoping to win his first World Series. This may be it for Roy, so I wish him the best of luck.