Phillies

Vince Velasquez is the last man standing from Matt Klentak's first big trade with Tom Eshelman dealt to O's

Vince Velasquez is the last man standing from Matt Klentak's first big trade with Tom Eshelman dealt to O's

It’s all on Vince Velasquez's shoulders now.

Vinny Velo is the last man standing from Matt Klentak’s first big trade as Phillies general manager. The power-armed right-hander took over that distinction Monday when the Phillies peddled pitcher Tom Eshelman to the Baltimore Orioles Monday in exchange for $1 million in international signing bonus money.

The Phillies acquired Velasquez and Eshelman, along with pitchers Mark Appel, Brett Oberholtzer and Harold Arauz, from the Houston Astros in exchange for reliever Ken Giles and minor-league infielder Jonathan Arauz in December 2015.

Giles was coming off a big season as Phillies closer and was considered a luxury for a rebuilding team. Klentak packaged him and Jonathan Arauz and sent them to the rising Astros for five pitchers.

Oberholtzer pitched in the rotation and out of the bullpen and was waived in August of his first season with the Phils.

Harold Arauz briefly reached Triple A with the Phillies and mostly struggled at Double A. He became a minor-league free agent after last season and is currently pitching to a 6.56 ERA in the Cardinals’ system.

Appel was the lottery ticket in the deal, a two-time first-round draft pick who went No. 1 overall in 2013. The Phils hoped a move from Houston to Philadelphia would unlock his huge potential. It didn’t. He struggled with injury and ineffectiveness and left the game during the 2017 season.

Not blessed with overpowering stuff, Eshelman was a legendary strike thrower at Cal State Fullerton and he initially shined in the Phillies’ system. He won the Paul Owens Award as the organization’s top minor-league pitcher in 2017 when he went 13-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 23 starts at Double A and Triple A.

Eshelman was invited to big-league camp in the spring of 2018, but he struggled during the regular season. He opened this season at Double A and made his last four starts at Triple A, allowing just eight runs in 26 innings.

The Phillies still might end up turning Eshelman into something in the future with that extra international money.

As for the Houston side of that initial trade, Giles was part of an Astros team that won the World Series in 2017. He had 34 saves for that club. He is now with Toronto and pitching quite well. It’s not out of the question that the Phillies look to reacquire him in the coming weeks as they seek bullpen help.

Jonathan Arauz, still just 20, remains in the low minors with the Astros.

From a Phillies perspective, Velasquez was always the centerpiece of that initial trade with Houston. He is in his fourth season in the majors with the Phils. He was inconsistent in three seasons as a starter and is now filling an important role in the bullpen.

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Joe Girardi and John Kruk relive their painful introduction

Joe Girardi and John Kruk relive their painful introduction

One of the first things Joe Girardi brought up during his introductory press conference as Phillies manager back in October was a bittersweet memory about John Kruk. 

Kruk, a three-time All-Star with the Phils, bowled Girardi over during a collision at home plate in the summer of 1991. Girardi held on for the out but his nose was broken. 

It’s the kind of violent play you’d never see again. Home-plate collisions have been outlawed in MLB since 2014. Colloquially, it’s referred to as the Buster Posey rule. Posey’s left leg was broken in 2011 when the Marlins’ Scott Cousins collided with him at home plate.

That play in 1991 didn’t lead to any kind of beef between Girardi, then a catcher for the Cubs, and Kruk. In fact, Kruk was one of the first people to contact Girardi while Girardi was in the hospital. 

"The bill of his helmet hit my nose, so that was my introduction to John Kruk,” Girardi told the Phils’ announcers during the Phillies-Pirates game Sunday on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

"If I'm not mistaken, being the sweetheart of a guy he was, you either called me when I was in the hospital or you came and saw me when they were examining my nose. I think I got a couple of stitches."

Kruk remembers it well.

"I didn't like many people, Joe., but you were actually one of them I did like,” Kruk said. “That's why I called you. If it was ... well I'm not going to name any names, some other catchers, I wouldn't have called them. I just enjoyed competing against you."

It’s all love, but they won’t be reenacting that experience any time soon.

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Watch Phillies fans' hilarious live reaction to seeing the 'new' Phanatic for first time

Watch Phillies fans' hilarious live reaction to seeing the 'new' Phanatic for first time

The Phillie Phanatic and his "new look" took flight for the first time on Sunday and, well, let's just say he didn't reach great heights.

Fans across the Philadelphia area were understandably shook by the changes to the Phanatic's look. I think it's safe to say most fans did not react positively to the changes. Just take a look at the responses to the above tweet for a sampling.

The Phanatic did have a few defenders, however, like his furry pal from across Pattison Avenue and current It Boy, Gritty.

Pretty much everyone had a strong reaction to the scales, the eyebrows, and most definitely the newly-accented tail.

But not everyone went the to great lengths like comedian and Phillies fans Paul F. Tompkins and Christine Nangle who did a 10-minute breakdown in their most natural Philly accents that included their reactions to seeing the new look for the first time.

It's a wide-ranging reaction, complete with tears at at least one point.

"They said it was going to be, like, an evolution but this seems like more than an evolution, you know," Tompkins said.

"Like he's in there, I can see him, but if I met him and had not said to me that's his cousin, I'd be like..." Nangle added.

The duo attempted to put their feelings into terms we can all understand.

"It's like you're walking down South Street," Tompkins said. "You know what, I haven't been to Jim's in a while, I'm gonna go in there, and then you order a whiz wit and then what you get is, like, what everybody else thinks a cheesesteak is where it's, like, provolone and green peppers on it. You know what I mean? That's what this feels like to me."

"That makes a hundred percent sense. That's a beautiful way to say it," Nangle responded.

They both come to a similar conclusion to what feels like the consensus in Philly right now.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

For more on the Phanatic's new look, check out our piece from yesterday.