The Phillies were in last place Friday, seeming to be days away from being buried. But now they’re flying to Boston with life after a weekend sweep of the Mets.
They’ll play three games against the Red Sox, who have lost seven straight, and then play two against the Blue Jays, who have lost four of their last six. The Phillies could wake up Friday with quite a different feeling than they had last Friday.
You’re signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox every weekday during the Phillies season. If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @matt_breen. Thank you for reading.
— Matt Breen (email@example.com)
The Phillies announced last week that they will retire Dick Allen’s No. 15 in September, a long overdue honor for one of the great sluggers in franchise history. The move breaks with tradition, as the Phillies previously said they would retire numbers only for players already in the Hall of Fame.
John Middleton, the team’s managing partner, discarded that rule and wrote up his own 3 1/2-page policy. Now the players must be Hall of Fame-caliber and must have had the majority of their success with the Phillies.
I wrote in Sunday’s Inquirer about what this means for the stars of the 2008 World Series-championship team — Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels — and how the door is now open for them to have their numbers retired if they fall short of reaching Cooperstown. Middleton’s guidelines will be strict, but there are at least debates to be had.
But those four are not the only players who should be in the conversation. Here are three more former Phillies who at least deserve consideration:
Larry Bowa (No. 10)
Bowa wore a Phillies uniform — as a player, coach and manager — for 29 years and is currently in his 36th season with the organization, as he works in the front office. Bowa was a five-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove shortstop, the starting shortstop on the 1980 world champions, a coach on the 1993 National League champions, and the first big-league manager for many of the key players on the 2008 championship team.
From 1974 to 1980, Bowa’s 16.6 WAR trailed only Dave Concepcion among all NL shortstops and his .274 average was the third best. In 1978, Bowa hit .294 with a .986 fielding percentage and finished fourth in the MVP voting. Not bad for someone who went undrafted 13 years earlier. His 16.8 career defensive WAR is the third best in Phillies history, trailing only Mike Schmidt and Chase Utley.
Bowa’s playing career, the years he has worked for the Phillies, and his devotion to the organization put him in the conversation.
Curt Schilling (No. 38)
From 1997 through 1999 — Schilling’s final three full seasons with the Phillies — he was sixth among major-league starters in WAR, third in strikeouts, and first in complete games. Schilling went 17-11 with a 2.97 ERA in 1997 for a 68-win team, led the majors with 319 strikeouts, and still finished fourth in the National League’s Cy Young voting. That’s how good NL pitching was that season. He was the ace of the 1993 National League champions and then one of the only players worth watching during some bleak years at the Vet.
Schilling is certainly a Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher. He did win championships elsewhere, but his nine seasons with the Phillies are more than the eight he combined in Arizona and Boston, and he accumulated more WAR in Philadelphia than anyplace else.
Schilling could eventually end up in Cooperstown, which would make his case for a retired number even stronger. The major roadblock seems to be his controversial political opinions, which will certainly be part of the conversation about retiring No. 38.
Del Ennis (No. 14)
Ennis, the pride of Olney High, has the third-most homers in franchise history and the fourth-most RBIs. From 1946 to 1956, Ennis hit the National League’s fifth-most homers (259), had the second-most RBIs (1,124), was a three-time All-Star, and was the cleanup hitter for the 1950 Whiz Kids. In 1950, he led the National League in RBIs, was fourth in batting average, and finished fourth in MVP voting.
Retiring his No. 14 — which was actually retired for Jim Bunning in 2001 — has been debated for decades. Bill Giles said in 1990 that the Phillies received letters every year asking why Ennis’ number had not been retired. Now, it would be a simple honor to add Ennis to the No. 14 that’s already retired. Ennis, who died in 1996, said he was hurt that it never happened.
For years, the Phillies could point to their policy and say Ennis was not a Hall of Famer. But now that policy is gone. And Ennis — just like Bowa, Schilling, and others — is back in the conversation.
“This needs to be done rigorously and thoughtfully so everybody’s got a shot, but you have to hit the standard. If you’re not a Hall of Fame-caliber player, I’m sorry, I don’t know that you qualify,” Middleton said. “I think this should be an attainable goal for people who fall short of the Hall of Fame. I think it should give them something to shoot for. I think that’s good for the players. I also think it’s good for the fans.”
The Phillies are in Boston tonight as they begin their first road trip during the pandemic. Scott Lauber writes about the precautions the team is taking as it hits the road for 10 days.
The weekend sweep of the Mets, Bob Brookover writes, is a signal of hope during a rather strange COVID-19 season.
Remember David Robertson? He hopes to help the Phillies bullpen next month, Scott Lauber writes.
Tonight: Zach Eflin starts at Fenway Park against the Red Sox, 7:30 p.m.
Tomorrow: Jake Arrieta faces Red Sox left-hander Kyle Hart, 1:35 p.m.
Thursday: Phillies play a doubleheader in Buffalo against the Blue Jays, 1:05 p.m.
Friday: Phillies open three-game series in Atlanta, 7:10 p.m.
With Nick Williams being claimed Saturday on waivers by the Reds, the Phillies no longer have any of the six players they acquired from Texas in July 2015 for Hamels. The team hoped the trade would kick-start its rebuilding plans, but none of the prospects the Phillies acquired became key pieces. For the Phillies, the best part of the trade is that Jorge Alfaro helped them land J.T. Realmuto.
Since 2000, the Phillies have traded Schilling, Scott Rolen, Bobby Abreu, Rollins, Hamels, and Utley. Those six players are the franchise’s leaders in Wins Above Replacement since 1990, with Utley (62) being the highest and Rolen (29.2) at No. 6.
The group combined for a 264.8 WAR, and in the six trades, the Phillies received a total of 21 players. And the combined WAR of the 21 players received for the most valuable Phillies players in the last 30 years? 28.6.
The return with the most WAR was the Rolen deal, thanks to Placido Polanco’s 10.3 WAR in four seasons after being acquired from St. Louis. The return with the lowest WAR was the Abreu transaction, which netted the Phillies four players, and just one — Matt Smith (-0.3 WAR) — reached the majors.
Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.
Question: Can fans go to Dick Allen’s number retirement? — Billy H., via email