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Cards On The Table: All Brothers Are Not Created Equal


If Alex Rodriguez had a brother, the Phillies would have signed him.

If Barry Bonds had a brother, the Phillies would have signed him.

If Greg Maddux had a brother, the Phillies would have… oh wait…

For decades, the Phils have believed that genetics were the ultimate scout. If there was a successful star player in Major League Baseball, you can be sure the Phillies would search under every rock and turn over every couch cushion to trade for or sign their second cousin, twice removed.

Vince DiMaggio, Frank Torre, Ken Brett, Mike Maddux, and Jeremy Giambi.

Everyone wishes the Phillies had the “other” brother.

The madness started in 1945 when the Phillies traded for Joe DiMaggio‘s older brother Vince, acquiring him from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Al Gerheauser. Vince’s time with the Phillies was short-lived, as he was traded in 1946 to the New York Giants for Clyde Kluttz, a bag of baseballs, and a year’s subscription to the “Jelly of the Month” club.

NOT Joe DiMaggio.

While Vince didn’t have any long hitting streaks of note, he did hit four grand slams with the Phils in 1945, and finished 33rd in the NL MVP voting. Laugh if you want, but have you ever been the 33rd best player in the National League? I didn’t think so.

During his time with the Phillies, DiMaggio hit .255/.317/.444 with 19 HRs and 85 RBIs in 133 games. But he was just the beginning.

A few years later, the Phillies acquired Frank Torre from the Milwaukee Braves, older brother of Joe Torre.

His heart looks just fine here.

A first baseman by trade, Torre served as a back-up player for most of his career when he came aboard the Phils’ ship for the 1962 and ’63 seasons. Thankfully for Torre, he retired from baseball before he could bear witness to the nightmare ending of the ’64 season. Given Torre’s heart issues later in life (he underwent a much-publicized heart transplant as his brother Joe was managing the Yankees to a World Series title in 1996), it’s probably a good thing he wasn’t around for that.

Torre’s career with the Phillies was shockingly unspectacular. In 200 games he hit .286/.377/.379 with 1 home run and 30 RBIs. Although, according to Frank’s Wikipedia page, he was hard to strike out.

He was also a difficult man to strike out, fanning only 64 times in 1482 at-bats, or one per 23.2 at-bats.

And if it’s one thing every team needs, it’s a weak-hitting back-up first baseman who doesn’t strike out much. To Frank’s credit, though, he was an excellent defender. So he had that going for him.

Up next, George Brett‘s older brother Ken, who played one season for the Phillies in 1973 as a young starting pitcher for a team just starting to figure things out.

Man, Ken Brett doesn’t even LOOK like George.

What they couldn’t figure out was how to get George Brett instead of Ken.

George certainly would have been better, but actually probably would have never played a single inning for the Phillies, as there was a young player already in the organization getting his first real taste of the Majors, manning the hot corner at that time.

So, perhaps it’s good the Phillies went in the direction of ‘ol Ken. He did have a productive ’73 season with Philadelphia, starting 25 games and going 13-9 with a 3.44 ERA in 211.2 innings. Not only that, Brett was perhaps the best hitting pitcher in the National League in his day. In 347 career at bats, he recorded 91 hits (29 for extra bases), with a .262 batting averageand a slugging percentage of .406, quite impressive for a pitcher. He hit 18 doubles, one triple, and 10 HRswith 44 RBIs.

And while with the Phils in ’73, he hit a home run in four consecutive pitching starts (from June 9 to June 23). Take that, stupid George Brett!

Anyone familiar with the horrific brand of baseball played by the Phillies in the late ’80s will surely remember the inferior pitching brother of future Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux, the mustachioed Mike Maddux. Mike is better known today as the pitching coach for the Texas Rangers.

I’ll always remember him as the waste of space that somehow managed to last four years in the Phils’ organization.

From 1986-1989, Maddux made everyone wish the Phils had Greg on the roster, going 10-13 as a reliever/spot starter with a 4.51 ERA in 64 career games. In fact, Mike faced his superior brother Greg in a game during his rookie season in ’86, suffering the first defeat of his career in the process.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Finally, there was Jeremy Giambi, the younger brother of former AL MVP Jason Giambi, who was acquired from Oakland A’s in a trade, mainly because Oakland GM Billy Beane wanted to be rid of him and his “locker room distractions,” whatever that means.

Look at those muscles! They’re as big as Jason’s! Let’s get him!

Apparently, because he was about the same size as his brother Jason, the Phillies thought he would be able to hit home runs like his brother. That didn’t happen.

In 82 games with the Phils in 2002, Giambi hit .244/.435/.538 with 12 HRs and 28 RBIs. Not a bad on-base guy, but a far cry from the power hitting monster his brother was in Oakland.

In 2005, Jeremy admitted to using anabolic steroids, and was also named in the Mitchell Report as a steroid user.

See? Steroids don’t help everybody. That’s now known as the Freddy Galvis corollary.

Giambi is probably best known for this play in the 2001 ALDS against the Yankees.

To this day, Oakland fans are still screaming at Jeremy to slide.

Fortunately, the Phillies now have the cash to go out and get the better brother. Gone are the days of Phils’ GMs wading through the genetic gene pool of Major League Baseball’s higher-end talent, forcing them to slum through the red-headed step children of MLB superstars.

As history teaches us, it’s always best to get the better brother.

Unless Albert Pujols has a younger sibling in the minors somewhere.

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