Are you feeling pessimistic about the 2014 Phillies? Let me tell you, things could be worse. In fact, when it comes to the Phillies, things often have been worse.
To illustrate just how bad the Phillies used to be, I will compare one of today’s players to a player from the team’s not-so-glorious past. Please join me as I take a somewhat unpleasant trip down memory lane in a segment I like to call Ghosts of Phillies Past!
Featured Phillie of the Month: Mike Adams
The Philadelphia Phillies bullpen was not particularly good in 2012. They had all sorts of problems bridging the gap between the starting pitcher and closer Jonathan Papelbon. In an attempt to correct this, the Phillies signed veteran setup man Mike Adams before the 2013 season.
Adams had been one of the top relievers in baseball before the 2012. But that season he had some injury issues, eventually resulting in him needing to have a rib surgically removed. After the surgery, the Phillies deemed him to be healthy and signed him to a two-year deal.
While that rib issue did appear to be behind him, Adams soon developed a new ailment. This time he had a small tear in his rotator cuff that essentially ruined his 2013 season.
Adams started the 2014 season on the disabled list, but since his return, he has looked like the effective setup man the Phillies thought they were acquiring. His most memorable appearance was when he entered a game against the Rockies with the bases loaded and nobody out, and was able to keep them from scoring.
Ghost of Phillies Past: Ken Ryan
Not much went right for the 1996 Phillies. They were a talentless, injury-riddled bunch who finished in last place. Yet for all the team’s issues, the back of the bullpen was not one of them.
Closer Ricky Bottalico made the All-Star team (although that was mostly because the Phillies needed a token representative) and they also had a solid setup man in Ken Ryan. Ryan was acquired in an offseason trade for the Red Sox, and helped ensure that on the rare occasions that the Phillies had a late lead, it would hold up.
The 1997 season didn’t go quite as well. Ryan spent two stints on the disabled list, and during the stretches when he was active, he pitched like a man who was trying to conceal an injury. His ERA in 22 games was a spectacularly bad 9.58.
The injury problems never got better as Ryan spent the next two seasons bouncing between the active roster and the disabled list. He was eventually forced to retire after the 1999 season.
The 2014 Phillies could clearly use some more relief help, but at least Adams seems to have secured the eighth inning. I just hope that unlike Ryan, he is able to avoid further injury and stay on the field.
If you’d like to read previous editions of Ghosts of Phillies Past, click here.