If you’re wondering where the good times had gone, they disappeared. The Philadelphia Phillies had turned from a five-time defending National League East winner (2007-2011), two-time NL campion (2008 and 2009, and 2008 World Series winner into a team fans have difficulty observing. This downfall could be attributed to age, managerial changes, and improvements from other teams.
The Phillies entered 2014 as the predicted last-place finisher in the division. Ryne Sanberg was a Hall of Fame second baseman but he would be dealing with plenty of adversity in his first full season as Phillies manager; he took over for the fired Charlie Manuel on Aug. 16, 2013 (Manuel returned to the Phillies in 2014 as an adviser). Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. wanted to reload the team rather than rebuild.
Right-fielder Marlon Byrd, a Phillie from 2002 to 2005, signed a two-year deal worth $16. Middle reliever Shawn Camp signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Starting pitcher A.J. Burnett, a member of two World Series winners (2003 Florida Marlins and 2009 New York Yankees) declined retirement by signing a one-year contract with the Phillies. Reid Brignac, a utility infielder, joined Philadelphia as a frege agent as a bench player.
Wil Nieves (nee-AY-vess) agreed to a $1.125 million one-year contract as the Phillies’ backup catcher. Jeff Manship, a long reliever and former starter, agreed to pitch on a minor league contract. Staring pitcher Roberto Hernandez (formerly known as Fausto Carmona) signed a one-year deal worth $4.5 million.
When the Phillies opened their season at the Texas Rangers, their opening-day lineup involved center fielder Ben Revere, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, second baseman Chase Utley, first baseman Ryan Howard, Byrd in right field, outfielder Domonic Brown as the designated hitter, catcher Carlos Ruiz, third baseman Cody Asche, and left-fielder Tony Gwynn, Jr. with Clifton Phifer Lee getting the start on the mound. Rollins hit a grand slam in the first game for his 200th big-league home run. The Phillies won the first game at Globe Life Park, 14-10, before the Rangers won the next two on walk-offs.
Somehow, the Phillies were 13-13 after the first month. Three relievers from the opening-day roster were demoted to AAA Lehigh Valley. Lee and reliever Antonio Bastardo earn won three games. Utley batted .355, Byrd posted 17 runs batted in, Howard sent five baseballs over the fence, and Revere stole 10 bases.
May had been frustrating for the Phillies since they failed to win games they were in position to triumph; they posted an 11–16 record and a league-worst .230 team batting average. Hamels registered his 100th career victory in a 12-1 win against the Cincinnati Reds as Brown and Cesar Hernandez hit homers (it was the first big-league long-ball for Hernandez). The Phillies won a game against Cincinnati, 8-3, by depositing four dingers.
June continued the swoon as the Phillies had 12 wins and 17 losses. On the bright side, Rollins singled off the Chicago Cubs’ Edwin Jackson on June 15 to become the Phillies’ all-time hit leader with 2,235 hits, surpassing Hall of Fame third baseman Michael Jack Schmidt. Rollins still had his doubts about Sandberg as the skipper as those two continued not sticking on the same page. The Phillies called-up reliever Ken Giles (“Hundred-mile Giles”) from Lehigh Valley and served a homer to his first batter before settling down. In the 2014 Major League Baseball amateur draft, the Phillies selected starting pitcher Aaron Nola out of Louisiana State Universiry as their first-round pick to encourageoptimism from fans and the media.
Although the Phillies sat at the bottom of the NL East to begin July, they accumulated a five-game winning streak shortly before the All-Star break. This streak moved the Phillies within nine games of .500, but they lost dropped the last two games to enter the break at 42–53 (keep in mind the Phillies had 60 total losses in 2011). Outfielder Grady Sizemore got called-up before the break (he started the season with the Boston Red Sox, got released, and the Phillies signed him and put him in Lehigh Valley). Oh yeah, closer Jonathan Papelbon constantly blabbed he wanted to immediately leave Philadelphia in a trade (that didn’t happen).
As the July 31 non-waivertrade deadline approached, the Phillies were believed to send older players to obtain younger ones. However, they conducted only two deals, including the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona (Roberto Hernandez) to the Dodgers. Outfielder John Mayberry, Jr. would be claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays in Aug. Lee and Hamels were also considered as trade candidates, but lee injured his elbow and the Phillies wouldn’t get enough prospects for Hamels. Sizemore recorded his 1,000th big-league hit.
Perhaps Aug. had been the Phillies’ best month of the season by going 14–13. The offense batted a combined .251 with 107 runs and 23 homers. Outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf batted .370, Revere hit .311, Byrd touched them all five times, Howard tallied 23 RBIs, and Rollins drew 13 walks. Starting pitchers had a 3.76 Earned Run Average and the bullpen posted a 2.60 ERA. Papelbon, Jake Diekman and Giles each posted ERAs below 2.00 in 12-plus appearances. Waiver acquisition Jerome Williams led the starting rotation with three wins and a 2.03 ERA in 26.2 innings, but Burnett was 1–5 with a 5.50 ERA in six starts.
The Phillies began Sept. with four pitchers (Hamels for six innings and Diekman, Giles, and Papelbon with an inning apiece) combining for a no-hitter in Atlanta 7-0 on Sept. 1), the 12th no-no in team history (the first combined no-hitter of the 12). Philadelphia had an 11–15 record in its final month. At the plate, the Phillies batted .228 with 3.31 runs per game. Starting pitcher compiled a 3.27 ERA and the relievers’ ERA was 3.09. Cesar Hernandez led the team with a .333 batting average in 14 games, and Freddy Galvis and Howard hit three homers apiece. Revere tallied 13 RBIs and nine stolen bases. Justin De Fratus and Giles led the bullpen with ERAs of 0.00 and 0.82 in nine and eleven games respectively. Hamels was 2–3 record with a 1.96 ERA.
Unfortunately, the Phillies finished in the NL East basement at 73-89 (the Phillies had the same record in 2013 but earned fourth place in the divsion). Phillies fans demanding the ousting of Amaro, Jr. but that didn’t happen. Team president David P. Montgomery stepped down due to health reasons and was replaced by Hall of Fame GM Pat Gillick at that position.
Offensively, the Phillies batted .242 (1,356-for-5,603) with 619 runs, 251 doubles, 27 triples, 125 home runs, 584 RBIs, 443 walks, 1,306 strikeouts, and 109 steals in 135 attempts. Pitchers combined to post a 3.79 ERA in 1,468.1 innings with 40 saves, 12 shutouts, two complete games, 1,396 hits, 687 runs (619 earned), 134 gopher balls, 521 walks, and 1,255 strikeouts. The Phillies posted the league’s second-ranked defense (.987 fielding percentage) with 4,405 putouts, 1,673 assists, 133 double plays, and 83 errors.
Utley was the Phillies’ lone representative in the 2014 All-Star Game. Citizens Bank Park saw 2,423,852 spectators go through the turnstiles. Shortstop J.P. Crawford and reliever Luis Garcia (made some appearances with the Phillies) were the team’s top minor leaguers by receiving the Paul Owens Award.
Tom McCarthy (play-by-play), Jamie Moyer (color), Matt Stairs (color), Greg Murphy, (sideline/interviews), and Schmidt (color for Sunday home games) called the action on Comcast SportsNet, The Comcast Network, and NBC 10. Announcing the action on radio were Scott Franzke (play-by-play), Larry Andersen (color), and Jim Jackson (radio).