Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The 1968 Phillies

I kicked off my team reviews in April 2010 with the 1967 Phillies. Here's the next edition of the team, on their way to oblivion.

The Phillies didn't make ONE player deal during the 1968 season! I guess they were satisfied with the chemistry that went on to produce a 76-86 (7th place) season.

The only move they made was to fire manager Gene Mauch after 54 games. Mauch was given the boot on 6/14, after the team dropped the first game of a Friday doubleheader with the Dodgers, 6-0. 3rd base coach George Myatt took over for the nightcap, and for the next day (with the Phillies winning both games). AAA manager Bob Skinner was hired as the new manager, and when he took over on Sunday, the losing resumed!

The Phillies went with the same 4-man rotation for the entire season, with a 5th starter added as needed. Chris Short (36 starts) was the team's ace, and was coming off a '67 season where he was 3rd in the NL in ERA. Short won 20 games in '66 and 19 in '68. Larry Jackson (34 starts) was in his final season at age 37.

Woodie Fryman was one of the players acquired from the Pirates for Jim Bunning in the off-season, and made 32 starts. Rick Wise made 30 starts in his 2nd full season in the majors.

The bullpen was manned by 5 pitchers all season: closer Turk Farrell led the staff with 54 games and 12 saves. Gary Wagner returned to the team after spending most of '66 and all of '67 in the minors, and contributed 8 saves.

John Boozer worked exclusively out of the bullpen in 1968, after being a reliever and spot starter for the past few years. Grant Jackson was the only lefty in the bullpen, and also made 6 starts, all seemingly during doubleheaders.

Veteran Dick Hall was the oldest member of the staff at age 37. Joining the team in 1967, he was a co-closer of sorts with Farrell, but played a reduced role in his 2nd and final season in Philly. Rookie Jerry Johnson was picked up from the Mets in the off-season, and was recalled in mid-August to fill the #5 starter role.

Jeff James made his debut in April, and filled the occasional 5th starter role as needed for the first half of the season until he was replaced by Johnson. Paul Brown pitched in 2 games (4 innings) in mid-season, probably when someone else was on the DL. Brown was with the Phillies in 1962, and for parts of '61 and '63.

Here are the starting eight. There was some position shifting due to Richie Allen's off-season injury, as well as some patchwork moves at shortstop.

Mike Ryan was acquired in the off-season from the Red Sox, and was good defensively but absolutely could not hit. He shared the position with long-time regular Clay Dalrymple. Bill White was in his last of 3 seasons with the Phillies, but only started 103 games this year.

Cookie Rojas was a steady performer at 2nd base, starting 149 games there. Initially, the Phillies handed the starting shortstop job to rookie prospect Don Money, who was acquired from the Pirates with Fryman. However, after 3 starts it was clear he was not ready for the big time, and was replaced by Bobby Wine. Soon Money's roster spot was filled by journeyman minor-leaguer Roberto Pena. When Wine injured his back on May 12th, Pena started all but 6 of the remaining games.

Veteran infielder Tony Taylor started 137 games at the hot corner, where he had played since Allen injured his hand in late-August 1967. Already defensively challenged, Richie Allen returned to the lineup at the start of 1968, but this time in left field (136 starts). He also spent 7 games at 3rd base and a few more on the bench in the manager's doghouse.

Tony Gonzalez started 93 games in center field, and a dozen more in left. Johnny Callison was the team's #2 slugger (behind Allen) and although his career had been declining since 1966, he still started 106 games in right field.

Here are the subs, in order of at-bats:

John Briggs had been with the team since 1965, and although a starting outfielder in 1967, he got squeezed out because of Allen’s position switch. Briggs was the #3 center and right fielder in '68, and was also the starter at first base for most of July. Don Lock also felt the squeeze in 1968, only seeing playing time as the #2 in CF and RF.

Clay Dalrymple started just under half the games behind the plate in his final season with the Phillies. Rick Joseph was the corner infield backup since being called up in August 1967 after Allen’s injury.

I have to wonder about Gary Sutherland. As a rookie in 1967, he platooned at shortstop and in left field, seeing lots of playing time. In '68 he was relegated to utility INF-OF, starting only 27 games across 5 positions. This is especially surprising since after the failure of Money and the injury to Wine, the Phillies chose to go with organizational grunt Pena at shortstop instead of Sutherland. After the season, Gary was the first Phillie selected in the expansion draft! Bobby Wine was the team's shortstop for most of the mid-1960s, but played his last game as a Phillie in mid-May.

Doug Clemens was with the team in '66 and '67, and was recalled from the minors when rookie prospect Larry Hisle was sent down early in the season. John Sullivan was recalled in mid-season, and played in 12 games as a pinch-hitter or #3 catcher. Outfielder Howie Bedell also played a few games for the Phillies in 1968.

Don Money was the centerpiece in the December 1967 trade of Jim Bunning to the Pirates. After failing his first shot in April 1968, he was sent down for the rest of the season. Winning the starting job 1 year later, he was also named to the Topps All-Rookie team. Center fielder Larry Hisle's story is the same as Money's: handed the starting job in Spring 1968, flopped, sent down, returned in '69 as the starter, named to the Topps All-Rookie team.

Gene Mauch had been the Phillies' manager since game #2 of the 1960 season. He only lasted through mid-June '68, thanks to clashes with team star Richie Allen. Bob Skinner was managing the Phillies' AAA team in '67 and '68, and was named as Mauch's replacement. He only lasted until early-August 1969, also having had enough of Allen’s shenanigans, with little support from the front office.

Here are the Rookie Stars cards:

Larry Colton's major-league career consisted of 2 innings pitched on 5/6/68. Dick Thoenen had a brief tryout in 1967, but did not play for the Phils in '68.

Transactions from the end of the 1967 season to the end of 1968: 

11/28/67 - Lost Chuck Hiller and Jimmie Schaffer in the Rule 5 draft.
11/28/67 - Selected Doc Edwards and Jerry Johnson in the minor league draft.

12/15/67 - Traded Dick Ellsworth and Gene Oliver to the Red Sox for Mike Ryan.
12/15/67 - Traded Jim Bunning to the Pirates for Don Money, Woodie Fryman, Bill Laxton, and Hal Clem.
12/15/67 - Sent John Morris to the Orioles as the player to be named for the 1966 acquisition of Dick Hall.

02/19/68 - Purchased John Sullivan from the Mets.

10/14/68 - Lost Gary Sutherland, Mike Wegener, Larry Jackson, Tony Gonzalez, Roberto Pena, and Steve Arlin in the expansion draft.

10/29/68 - Released Dick Hall.

12/02/68 - Lost Billy Cowan and Bobby Klaus in the Rule 5 draft.

12/03/68 - Purchased Deron Johnson from the Braves.

Next time, we will look at who the Phillies protected in the October 1968 expansion draft.

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