Phillies Time Machine: 1988

After a 1987 season where the Phillies flirted with the .500 mark, finishing 80-82, there was some optimism coming into the 1988 season. Steve Bedrosian was coming off a Cy Young Award season and free agent Lance Parrish surely had to put up better numbers than he had in '87, so it was assumed the Phillies would be better. Those thoughts were soon to be proven wrong.

As the Phillies left spring training, they couldn't have known the rocky roads that lie ahead for them. Right out of the shoot, the team was bad, going 3-8. While the best of optimists thought the team could still recover, it never happened and the Phillies were in a dive bomb toward the NL East basement. Not only were the Phillies losing, they looked bad doing it. There was no fire to the team and losing seemed to come comfortably.

The higher-ups were not pleased and started dismissing staff. General Manager Woody Woodward exited to be replaced by Lee Thomas a few weeks after. When the Phillies dismissed Woodward in June, they also sent farm director Jim Baumer with him. Thomas was given the chance to fill the job and hired Lance Nichols and also brought in Jay Hankins to be the Phillies director of scouting. By late in the season, Thomas was tired of the on-field product and dismissed manager Lee Elia along with coaches Claude Osteen, Del Unser and Dave Bristol. John Vukovich was given the reins of the team on an interim basis.

As for player moves, Thomas took a slower approach. The only major move was to send Glenn Wilson and Mike Jackson to Seattle for Phil Bradley. Bradley put up decent numbers, but was a disruption in the clubhouse and didn't stay long in Philly. In fact, he was gone by the start of the '89 season.

In all fairness, the Phillies started the season without Bedrosian, who had pneumonia. The reliever came back to save 28 of the Phillies 65 wins.

The true rock bottom came in a 38 game stretch in the middle of the season. The Phillies lost 23 of those 38 games and staggered from there on out, becoming the worst Phillies team since 1972. The Phillies finished eleventh in the league in hitting and pitching and their fielding didn't help any as they finished tenth in the league in fielding percentage. Chris James led the team with 19 homeruns and Mike Schmidt finished with just 12, finishing the season on the bench because of a strained rotator cuff. It was the first time since that same 1972 season that no Phillie hitter hit 20 or more homeruns.

Two young players brought up during the season seemed to show some potential, although neither of them would ever live up to what they showed in their debuts. Ricky Jordan finished the season with 11 homeruns, 43 RBI and a .308 average in 69 games. Outfielder Ron Jones played in 33 games and hit .290 with eight homeruns. Jones would suffer one knee injury after another and never equal those numbers again in his career.

The dismal 1988 season opened the door for a lot of changes during the offseason as Thomas tried to put his stamp on the Phillies and move them back toward the top of the division.


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