Switching gears from sellers (of real talent) to buyers (of geriatric talent) is one thing. Sure, pick up a 43-year-old Jamie Moyer while Vicente Padilla, who was traded essentially for nothing, is 13-8 in Texas. Jose "Sr. K" Hernandez? Yes, he's still playing. And I won't mention the name of a throw-in in the Eric Milton tradeactually I will: Nick Punto, who's helping the Twins win a wild card that actually matters in the AL.
It's bad enough that the Phils are picking up these marginal talents after Crazy Pat's fire sale at the end of July. Yeah, that Abreu is really killing the Yankees.
OK, I get it. The Phils are in a wild card hunt. As they fall to .500 tonight, they are still just a game and a half out of the wild card lead. Given that it has been 13 years since their last playoff appearance and 23 since the one before that (both ending in Series losses), this team should do whatever they can to get a cherished playoff spot.
But Jeff Conine?
Johnny Damon going to the Yankees? David Wells to the Red Sox? Those are nothing compared to the man who single-handedly knocked the Phils out of the wild card spot in 2003 joining them for a wild card run in 2006.
When Conine was acquired by the Marlinsagain from the O's in at the trade deadline in 2003they were tied with the Phils for the wild card lead (73-63). By the time the Phils and Marlins next met (Sept. 16), Florida was 1.5 games up.
After a 14-0 shellacking brought the Phils within one-half game of the wildcard lead, Conine helped lead the Marlins to an 11-4 going 2-for-3 with a home run, a double, two walks, two runs scored, and three runs batted in. He also doubled off two runs from his position in left field. He drove in two runs in the top of the first to put the Marlins up 3-0. After the Phils tied the score, he homered with one out in the fourth to put the Marlins 4-3. They added two more runs in the inning to go up to stay.
Despite a single and a run scored on a bunt and a Kevin Millwood error, Conine and Florida lost the final game of the series, and the Phils were again one-half game behind. The meet again in Miami after one series eachthe Marlins split with the Braves and the Phils lost two of three to the Reds to fall to one full game back.
With six games remaining, the two teams had three games left to play. The Phils led 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh. After two straight walks by Kevin Millwood to lead off the bottom of the seventh and a flyout, Jeff Conine homered to tie the game and drive Millwood from the game. The ill-fated Mike Williams came in to give up a single and walk. When all was said and done, the Marlins nabbed a 5-3 leadthe eventual score was 5-4.
The Marlins led by two games, but the Phils could still tie them if they won the final two games of the series.
In the next game, the Marlins led 2-0 in the sixth when Conine hit a two-run homer to cap a four-run inning. Conine went 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored, and two batted in in the 6-5 Marlins win.
The Phils were now done three games with just four games left to play.
Conine had an off game in their last meeting going just 1-for-5 (a double) with two runs batted in. The Marlins won 8-4 to eliminate the Phils. The Marlins went on to their second wild card be-pilfered ring in seven years. The Phils have been a team seemingly one game away from a playoff spot ever since.
Overall, in 37 at-bats against the Phils in 2003, Conine had 12 hits, 3 doubles, 3 home runs, 3 walks, 5 runs scored, 11 batted in, and five Ks. His ratios were .324/.375/.649/1.024. For Conine's career, there is only one team (the Rockies) against whom he has more homers than the Phils (13).
Did I mention that I dislike Jeff Conine?
But I digress
If the Phils somehow steal the wild card spot, they will become one of a handful of teams who would play a playoff series without two of their regular-season starters. No matter what happens the rest of the way this season, Baseball Reference will list already departed Phils Bobby Abreu and David Bell as the starters in right and at third, respectively. And Sal Fasano, Abreu's teammate in the Bronx, had more at-bats than any other Phils catcher when he was inexplicably designated for reassignment a week before the trade deadlinewell, maybe that was the explanation.
There are only two teams in playoff history who have started a series with two of their regular-season starters on other rosters. The first was the 1909 Detroit Tigers who traded the right side of the infield in August (1B Claude Rossman and 2B Germany Schaefer) for their superior replacements (Tom Jones and Jim Delahanty) for the last forty-odd games of the season. The Tigers still lost in seven games to the Pirates.
The other team was the 2004 Paul DePodesta Dodgers. They traded starting catcher and Team Leader(TM) Paul Lo Duca and staring right fielder Juan Encarnacion to the Marlins in the Brad Penny trade.
Of the twelve teams that played a playoff series without at least two of their regular-season starters, just one (the World Series Reggie-less 1972 A's) has won the World Series. The least number of starters fielded in a playoff series was four by the injury-plagued Braves in the 2001 Division Series, which they won. The Braves were missing starters Javy Lopez, Quilvio Veras, Rafael Furcal, and Wes Helms. Lopez returned for the NLCS, which they lost.
Here's the complete list of teams who have played a playoff series without at least two regular-season starters: