Former Phils Look Elsewhere For Success

In this era of free-agency when baseball is run more like a business than the national pastime, changes are common. Many players who are starring on other teams have their roots with the Phillies organization. Players like Mike Williams, Desi Relaford, Benito Santiago, Bobby Estallela, Gary Bennett, Reggie Taylor and others began their careers sporting Phillies pinstripes. These are just a few players who have changed addresses since calling Veterans Stadium home.

Perhaps the best former Phil still bouncing around the league is Mike Williams. Williams was a key member of the National League championship team of 1993, and today he's the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates. While he never had a chance to flourish in Philadelphia, Williams has made quite a career for himself while pitching for the Pirates. 2003 may turn out to be a career year for this former Phillie. Through 12 appearances this season Williams has posted seven saves for the Bucs. Although his ERA at 6.67 is high, he is still turning in a solid campaign for Pittsburgh this year.

Desi Relaford just couldn't get it going in Philadelphia. He may have struggled during his time in Philly, but playing for the red-hot Kansas City Royals this season Relaford is at the top of his game for his first place club. Playing 3B, LF or SS this year Relaford is hitting .315 with one home run and six RBI. Those are pretty impressive numbers for a player who has been somewhat of a journeyman since leaving the friendly confines of Veterans Stadium.

Benito Santiago was hailed as a power-hitting catcher when he came to Philadelphia in 1996. While he was a solid player during his time here, he never lived up to the expectations put on his shoulders. But ever since joining Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants Santiago has played like a man on a mission. In 2003 Benito is hitting .293, with a fairly impressive .361 on base percentage. What's more glaring is the fact that in 20 games he has hit one home run and 10 RBI. With a slugging percentage of .453 Benito Santiago is turning into a solid compliment to Bonds' bat at Pac Bell Park.

Two other solid catchers still active in the majors are Bobby Estalella and Gary Bennett. Estalella, playing for the Colorado Rockies has been reduced to a reserve role, but still holding his own with four home runs in Colorado. While he is not the catcher that Santiago is, nor does he have as many opportunities to prove himself, Bennett is still a solid backstop for the San Diego Padres. He has been sidelined most of this season with a sprained right knee so his playing time has been severely hampered. Still, his batting average is .282 and has been a leader in the clubhouse as usual. Bennett has always been able to provide leadership to young teams, and while he is unable to play this season, he is sure to bring this to the Padres.

And finally, Reggie Taylor who was once the number one pick of the draft by the Phightin's in 1995 was traded last spring training to the Cincinnati Reds. Taylor earned several minor league awards while in the Phillies organization, but just didn't have a place on the big club. Once joining the Reds his career has finally gotten off the ground. Upon Ken Griffey JR's injury, Taylor was dubbed his replacement, and is doing his best to fill Jr's shoes. He may be batting just over the Mendoza line, at .220, he has tallied one home run, and six RBI in 26 games played. It's obvious that Taylor probably will not have a Griffey like season, but he is still a solid prospect for the Reds.

Each of these players, among others who have left Philadelphia in search of success elsewhere, tried their hardest to prove themselves in Philadelphia. However, it just didn't work out, and hopefully they can have successful careers for their current teams, and this year's bunch of Phightin Phillies can make a long run at post season play.

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