While at a Phillies game with the guys from On the DL Podcast last weekend, we were discussing the All-Star ballot. The idea of voting for former Phillies in the American League came up and we all started to analyze the AL ballot to see if it was possible to vote for a former Phillie at each position.
Turns out the idea was not so far-fetched.
FIRST BASE - Russell Branyan, Seattle Mariners
Phillies: 2007, acquired via trade for cash
Played a whole seven games with the Phillies in 2007, but ironically played a key role in helping the Phillies on their way to clinching the NL East division.
In just nine at bats he hit two home runs, including a game winning two run homer in his first at bat with the Phillies. The majestic shot came on August 14 against the Washington Nationals. The Phillies won 3-2.
SECOND BASE - Placido Polanco, Detroit Tigers
Phillies: 2002-2005, acquired in trade for Scott Rolen
Polanco was one of the most well rounded players while he was with the Phillies. The biggest name to come to the Phillies from St. Louis in exchange for Scott Rolen, Polanco provided the Phillies with a minimum of a .289 batting average, few strike outs, and solid defensive play.
Some wonder what would have happened if Charlie Manuel would have used Polanco at third base more often, allowing a young Chase Utley more time at second base early on. After signing a free agent contract with the Phillies in 2005, the Phillies traded the solid infielder to Detroit in exchange for Ugueth Urbina and Ramon Martinez.
THIRD BASE - Scott Rolen, Toronto Blue Jays
Phillies: 1996-2002, drafted in second round in 1993
Scott Rolen is probably the best player to play third base in this franchise's history not named Schmidt. Rolen had so much talent on offense and defense but he could not get along with manager Larry Bowa.
Rolen pushed for his exit from Philadelphia, causing many fans to detest him, but Rolen was a pure talent. He has dropped off in numbers since his departure, but he did win a World Series with St. Louis.
SHORTSTOP - Nick Punto, Minnesota Twins
Phillies: 2001-2003, drafted in 21st round in 1998
Nick Punto was never in a roster battle with Jimmy Rollins, but his speed did come in handy on the base path. He never developed though and recorded just two stolen bases in 77 games with the Phillies. He was traded to the Twins (along with Carlos Silva) in exchange for Eric Milton.
CATCHER - Rod Barajas, Toronto Blue Jays
Phillies: 2007, signed as free agent
The 2007 season was an interesting one, as some of the off season moves designed to help the Phillies reach the playoffs fizzled and exploded. On the mound was Freddy Garcia. Behind the plate was Rod Barajas.
After backing out of a deal with Toronto and switching agents, Barajas reached a deal with the Phillies, paying him much less than he would get in Toronto. Barajas saw split action with Carlos Ruiz and once he went down to injury Chris Coste emerged on the scene. Barajas eventually signed with Toronto before the 2008 season.
LEFT FIELD - Pat Burrell, Tampa Bay Rays
Phillies: 2000-2008, drafted in first round in 1998
Pat "The Bat" still has his loyal fans in Philadelphia, even if Raul Ibanez has taken over in left field the way he has. Burrell was a power in the lineup for most of the decade and seemed to bleed Phillies red.
The fans loved him and he was always respectful of the fans. But more importantly he put up numbers. 251 home runs, 827 RBI, 100-plus hits each season, and 785 walks. Burrell of course is now with Tampa Bay, seeing most of his playing time as a designated hitter, though he is currently on the DL.
RIGHT FIELD - Bobby Abreu, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Phillies: 1998-2006, acquired in trade for Kevin Stocker
Abreu was a tough guy to figure out. He was one of the toughest outs on the team yet he had many people detest him while with the Phillies. Perhaps it was his lack of going all out on defense, though he somehow won a Gold Glove, or the Eskin driven hate machine pointing out his lack of production when it mattered.
Say what you will about Abreu, the best move made by former general manager Ed Wade, but he was a shoe-in for 150 hits, 20 home runs, about 100 RBI and 100-plus walks any given season.
Abreu was traded to the New York Yankees, along with Corey Lidle, for C.J. Henry, Carlos Monastrios, Jesus Sanchez, and Matt Smith in a trade that can only be referred to as a salary dump. The move did set the stage for the team's future though.
CENTER FIELD - J.D. Drew, Boston Red Sox
Phillies: Technically never, but the Phillies did draft him in the first round in 1997
In order to complete the former Phillies AL ballot, somebody has to play center field. In this case J.D. Drew must field the position. True, Drew never did suit up in a Phillies uniform as he and his agent, Scott Boras, failed to go back on their words that Drew would not sign for less than $10 million.
You can debate who was right and who was wrong, but Drew has only put together one all star season, coming last year in a game in which he was named the MVP. Drew opted to play in the independent league and re-entered the draft the next season, being selected by the St. Louis Cardinals. Pat Burrell would be the top pick by the Phillies that year.
Don't forget to vote for this year's All-Star teams!