Last week in Milwaukee, the Phillies enjoyed their first four-game series sweep at a visiting ballpark for the first time since September of 2011, when they took four straight at Cincinnati.
It was during that series three years ago that the Phils prepped for the final month of the season by adding a lefthanded bat to their bench.
They struck a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates for Triple-A first baseman/outfielder John Bowker. The Phillies left Brandon Moss on the IronPigs roster at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Bowker went 0-for-13 with 7 strikeouts in his monthlong career with the Phillies. He never played in a big league game after that September, and was last seen in the Mexican League this spring.
Moss broke through with the Oakland the next season and is one of six A's at the All-Star Game in Minneapolis this week.
Moss admits he was upset the Phillies didn't call him up that September, but he understood he wasn't going to be in the teams plans anyway. Although the Phillies offered him another minor league deal after hitting .275 with an .877 OPS, 23 home runs and 80 RBIs at Lehigh Valley, he opted to sign a minor league deal with Oakland.
"I knew they had kind of showed that I wasn't the kind of guy they were looking for, although they also knew what I was capable of," Moss said Monday afternoon. "Oakland didn't know that much about me. But I felt the things that I did as a player were probably more in line with what Oakland looks for than what Philly looks for. So I thought, 'If I'm going to get a better opportunity for myself, than I should probably sign with Oakland.'"
Moss is hitting .268 with an .878 OPS and 21 home runs in 89 games with the Oakland A's, the team with baseball's best record. Both his home runs and OPS would lead all Phillies players.
But even Brandon Moss couldn't have predicted he'd be a late-bloomer turned All-Star.
"No one would have anticipated that I'd from from struggling at the beginning of my career to now at an All-Star game," he said. "You can't anticipate that. … There are plenty of opportunities given where guys don't make the most of it. You can't anticipate that."
But he doesn't hold a grudge against the Phillies (or the Pirates, who also gave up on him after 2010).
More from Moss:
Q: Disappointing the Phillies had you in minor leagues but opted to trade for John Bowker that year?
Moss: I felt like if they were going go and get a guy from within, I felt like I would have been a good option for them, I felt like I could have helped, as far as I should have gotten an opportunity. But at the same time, you know, you can't really dwell on that. Like I was saying before, you get labeled something, it's hard to break that label in the major leagues. I was labeled as more of a 4-A guy. I had a good year at Triple-A for them, but at the same time they were trying to win the National League East, trying to go to the World Series. They were looking for a guy who thought they could help them and they thought Bowker could help them more than I could. As a player, you have to look into that, say, 'I'm not the player they're looking for.' But as an organization, the organization has to do what they think is best for them.
Q: Were you upset though?
Moss: Yeah, it upset me personally. I wanted the opportunity. I wanted to be there. Because they were an unbelievable team. They won 102 games. Who doesn't want to be a apart of that? But at the same time I didn't take it personally as, 'Heck with these guys.' You just read the writing on the wall: I'm not the guy that they want, so you have to go elsewhere to maybe be a guy another organization wants. Personally you always want to be in the major leagues, especially on a really good team. But you can't hold it against an organization when you're not the guy they're looking for.
Q: When you opted for Oakland, just felt it was a better chance?
Moss: Even if I had gone with the Phillies, I don't think I would have had the opportunity to play everyday. They had (Ryan) Howard, they had (Hunter) Pence. They had (Raul) Ibanez, who was playing well. The year I was there they won 102 games. They had a lot of injuries the next year and ended up struggling but that team right there, thats the one I signed with because I knew it was a place where they were going to be a good team. if you could be on a team like that, you'll take any deal offered to you. I don't think I'd be here if I didn't have an opportunity with the Phillies because it wouldn't have been the same opportunity. I know there has been a lot of stuff said about my time with the Phillies, but you have to look at the team they had - there wasn't an opportunity to play everyday. The best I could have hoped for was to be a fifth outfielder."