Brandon Moss Wouldn’t Have Made A Difference for the Phillies
On Thursday, Ken Rosenthal wrote a column about Oakland Athletics 1B/OF Brandon Moss, who is having another fantastic season. Before joining the A’s before the 2012 season, Moss had jumped around several organizations, spending a majority of his time in the minor leagues. Through 2010, he had posted a .688 OPS in 743 plate appearances in the big leagues despite comparatively better success at Triple-A — he finished with an .834 and .874 OPS with the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2007-08.
Moss was involved in a three-team trade in July 2008, moving from the Red Sox to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He again failed to make an impact at the big league level, and left the Pirates as a free agent after the 2010 season. He joined the Phillies and started the 2011 season with Lehigh Valley. There, he posted an .877 OPS with 23 home runs. The Phillies, in need of a left-handed bat off the bench, opted for John Bowker over Moss. Moss did come up late in September, but went hitless in six plate appearances. After the season, Moss debated re-signing with the Phillies, but eventually signed with the Athletics on a minor league deal. The rest, as they say, is history.
Moss sure would look nice in a Phillies uniform right now in the middle of the lineup. Rather than have MLB odds of making the playoffs at a lousy three percent, they could be at or near the top of the NL East with 50 percent odds.
According to Rosenthal, Moss is still a bit perturbed that the Phillies passed him over:
“Philly had kind of showed me what they thought of me when they were looking for a left-handed bench bat late in the year,” Moss recalls. “I had been having a pretty good year at Triple A for them. And they went outside the organization and got another guy. Things like that are when you see what teams think of you. You see where you stand. I read the writing on the wall.”[...]
That off-season, as a minor league free agent, Moss’ choice came down to the Phillies and Athletics. He was still upset with the Phillies, mind you. But he nearly re-signed with them, anyway.
“I knew they knew who I was, knew how I played,” Moss says. “It’s always good to be in a place that at least knows what you’re capable of doing. But at the same time, when I found out Oakland had interest, I just felt like it was a good fit.
“The things I do as a hitter are things that they valued. Batting average was not the end-all, be-all of things. They look at numbers outside of that, numbers that usually are in line with what I do well. I thought if I could go show what I was capable of doing, there might be an opportunity to earn some sort of spot. And if not, at least I knew I would be in the PCL (Pacific Coast League).
Moss has become one of baseball’s elite power hitters. In 1,032 plate appearances with the Athletics, he has a .906 OPS with 66 home runs. He has the tenth-best weighted on-base average in baseball at .401, tied with Mike Trout. That sure would look nice on the Phillies, wouldn’t it?
Unfortunately, there was no chance that Moss would have gotten the playing time necessary to show the Phillies what he is capable of doing. The National League doesn’t have the DH rule, so that’s one less spot for him. Then there’s Ryan Howard at first base who is also left-handed, owed a lot of money, and at the time was not nearly as bad offensively as he is now. The Phillies had Hunter Pence in right field who wasn’t being displaced, and Raul Ibanez in left field who was an established player on a World Series contender. There was no chance Moss would displace Ibanez.
So where was Moss going to play? John Bowker took all of 13 trips to the plate, so maybe Moss would have had 19 PA’s instead of six. Still not nearly enough to convince the Phillies he was ready to turn the corner on his previously mediocre performance at the big league level.
The Jason Grilli situation was similar. After leaving the Phillies organization following the 2011 season, Grilli joined the Pittsburgh Pirates and eventually became their closer. Now in his fourth year with the club, the right-hander has posted a 2.78 ERA with 45 saves in 155 1/3 innings. But the Phillies had no room in the bullpen for him.
It stinks that Moss and Grilli have gone on to enjoy such great success with other clubs, but the Phillies were not in a position back then to gamble on minor league veterans with a very sketchy history. The club did nothing wrong in looking past them.
If you want a decision to get upset over, try this one: according to a report from Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle, the Phillies included Domingo Santana in the Hunter Pence trade with the Astros due to a clerical error:
Less than two months after they picked George Springer from the University of Connecticut, the Astros sent Pence and cash to the Phillies on July 29, 2011, for Cosart, Singleton, Zeid and a player to be named, which ended up being Santana. In spring training, a Phillies official admitted that Santana wasn’t actually supposed to be on the list that was given to the Astros to pick from to satisfy the final piece on Aug. 15, 2011.
Santana, a 6-foot-5, 224-pounder from the Dominican Republic, has usually been one of the youngest players at each minor-league level. He’s 21 now at OKC hitting .292 with nine home runs, 36 RBIs and an .858 OPS over 58 games. It wouldn’t be surprising if he’s up in the majors this year.
I’m not saying Amaro is lying, but the person who told us said it while in the presence of a top Astros official too. t.co/AzO8kU09wh
There are two possibilities here, and both are unappetizing:
- Ortiz’s report is accurate, and the Phillies sent a fantastic prospect to the Astros due to a clumsy mistake
- Amaro is correct about there not being a mistake, which means the Phillies intentionally sent Santana to the Astros. That means the Phillies A) overvalued Pence and B) did not correctly gauge Santana’s value
The Pence trade is bad enough without even considering Santana. There’s your player to retrospectively lament losing.