New Century, Old Result: Last

The new century Phillies were bad from start to finish – 7-17 in April, 9-20 in September. They lost 97 games and finished fifth in the five-team NL East, 30 games behind the all-winning Atlanta Braves. Terry Francona’s pitching rotation to begin the season was, Andy Ashby, Paul Byrd, Robert Person, and Randy Wolf.

Where was Curt Schilling? Probably off sulking somewhere about having to pitch for such a lousy ballclub; by the time he finally took the mound on April 30 at the Vet against the Cardinals, his team was already 10 games below .500 at 7-17, and on a fast track to nowhere. In that game, Schilling gave up a two-run homer to Mark McGwire in a 4-3 loss. In his next outing, Schill threw a complete game, 11-hit shutout in a 6-0 win over Kevin Millwood in Atlanta.

Schilling groused his way through May, June, and July with a 6-6 record before Ed Wade finally gave in and traded him to Arizona on July 26. There is debate in Philadelphia to this day (March, 2011) about who got the better of that deal. The Phillies received three pitchers, first baseman Travis Lee, four cactus plants, and a snakeskin belt for the big horse.

At trade time the Phillies were 44-53, then, without Schilling, 21-44; Arizona was 58-45, then with Schilling, 27-32 to finish 3rd in the West, 12 games behind the Giants.  Schilling’s first Arizona win was on July 28 in Florida, and his first home win was on August 2, a complete game, five-hit 2-0 win over Greg Maddux and the Braves.

Ed Wade was having trouble finding time to sleep, with all the deals he was making in what looked like a frantic effort to make the Phillies better. He did a good thing on June 5th when he used the 15th pick in the first round to get Chase Utley. After the Schilling trade, he went on a clubhouse-clearing tear:
July 29 – Ron Gant to the Anaheim Angels for Kent Bottenfeld and a beach ball.
August 3 – Rico Brogna to the Red Sox on waivers.
August 4 – Desi Relaford to San Diego for a ticket to the Yellow Fish Tuna Derby.
August 5 – Mickey Morandini to Toronto for a Canadian Royal Mounty hat.

Some good news arrived in September when 22-year-old Jimmy Rollins made his Phillies debut; it was in the second game of a doubleheader with the Florida Marlins at the Vet in a 6-5 Phillies’ win. J-Roll batted second in the lineup and walked in his first Major League at bat. His first ML hit came on his next at bat when he tripled off Florida righthander Chuck Smith; he was stranded at third when Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, and Travis Lee all struck out.

By max blue

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Andy Ashby, Atlanta Braves, Bobby Abreu, Curt Schilling, Desi Relaford, Ed Wade, Greg Maddux, Jimmy Rollins, Mickey Morandini, Pat Burrell, Paul Byrd, Philadelphia Phillies, Randy Wolf, Rico Brogna, Robert Person, Ron Gant, Terry Francona, Travis Lee


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