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Phillies and Pirates’ Parallel Playoff Procedures


Phillies and Bucs’ core players are similar – Photo credits AP George Widman, Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America


In 1979 the Pirates won the World Series. In 1980 the Phillies won the World Series.

In 1992 the Pirates almost advanced to the World Series. In 1993 the Phillies lost in the World Series in 6 games.

The Phillies went on a 15 year playoff drought which ended in 2007. The Pirates went on a 20 year playoff drought which ended in 2013.

The similarities between the Pirates and Phillies don ?t end there. Over the last 30 years there have been some interesting correlations between the two teams located in the Keystone State. The Phillies’ rise to prominence in 2007 has some markedly similar resemblance to the Pirates’ rise to the playoff team we see today. The two organizations also share some of the same player management maneuvers that affected how they rebuilt.


1) Failed trades of cornerstone players

In the spring of 2000 the Phillies had three veterans that thought they were going to be integral to the team ?s renaissance and eventual World Series run: Bobby Abreu, Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen. Over the next several seasons the Phillies tried to rebuild the team with the following trades:

  • Curt Schilling for Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee and Vicente Padilla
  • Scott Rolen for Placido Polanco, Bud Smith and Mike Timlin
  • Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle for C.J. Henry, Jesus Sanchez, Carlos Monasterios and Matt Smith.

The trades are ironically similar to:

  • Freddy Sanchez for Tim Aldersen
  • Jose Bautista for Robinzon Diaz
  • Jason Bay for Craig Hansen, Bryan Morris, Andy LaRoche and Brandon Moss

Abreu was the Jason Bay of the Phillies. Both were beloved players and the face of their era for their respective teams. Both were corner outfielders. Both were among the best in the game and both were traded for four players that ultimately didn ?t work out.


2) Homegrown talent becomes the stars of playoff teams

In 1996 the Phillies drafted then 17 year-old shortstop Jimmy Rollins in the second round of the draft. Rollins reached the majors in 2000, which was the same year that the Phillies drafted Chase Utley with the 15th pick in the 1st round. A year later Ryan Howard was selected in the 5th round of the 2001 draft. With these three picks the core of the Phillies’ starting nine was set, with other additions filling out the roster.

The Pirates selections of Neil Walker in 2004, Andrew McCutchen in 2005 and Pedro Alvarez in 2008 were very similar to the Phillies’ threesome. Howard and Alvarez are especially similar in that they are very polarizing players.


3) Rotation depth with low priced options

When people think of the Phillies’ playoff run, they think of a stacked expensive rotation with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. In reality the playoff run started with only Hamels and a gang of cheap starters that came from different methods. On the 2007 playoff team the Games Started leaders for the Phillies were:

Jamie Moyer – 33 (obtained in trade from SEA in 2006 at spry age of 44)

Adam Eaton – 30 (drafted by Philly in 1st round in 1996, re-signed as free agent in 2006)

Cole Hamels – 28

Kyle Kendrick – 20 (drafted by Philly in 7th round in 2003)

Jon Lieber – 12 (free agent, signed in 2004)

Kyle Lohse – 11 (obtained mid-season in 2007 from CIN in trade)

Freddy Garcia – 11 (obtained in trade from CHW in 2006)

J.D. Durbin – 10 (selected off waivers from BOS in 2007)


Not that dissimilar from the Pirates’ 2013 leaders in Games Started:

A.J. Burnett – 30 (obtained in trade from NYY in 2012 at age 35)

Jeff Locke – 30 (obtained in trade from ATL in 2009)

Francisco Liriano – 26 (free agent, signed in 2013)

Charlie Morton – 20 (obtained in trade from ATL in 2009)

Gerrit Cole – 19 (debut, drafted in 1st round in 2011, Pirate version of Hamels)

Wandy Rodriguez – 12 (obtained in mid-season trade from HOU)

Jeanmar Gomez – 8 (obtained in trade with CLE in 2013)



After the Phillies’ foray into the playoffs in 2007, they traded promising young outfielder Michael Bourn for elite closer Brad Lidge. They also saw Jason Werth finally put it together at the age of 29, the remarkable transition of Brett Myers from elite closer to workhouse starter and J.A. Happ maturing into a mid rotation starter (who was then dealt to acquire Roy Oswalt in 2010). Cliff Lee and Halladay were then acquired and the core three were extended and thus the window was held open for another few years.

While the Pirates entry into the playoff window seems similar to the Phillies in 2007 and might be open longer due to the creation of the second Wild Card, it seems as if the similarities in keeping the window open might differ. The Phillies traded some young promising players for veterans, gave up some contract years to remain elite and signed some big free agents deals and extensions. It seems as if the Pirates will use Latin America, the draft and team friendly deals and extensions to continue its run.

Let ?s hope the Pirates get at least the one World Series win that the Phillies got, because it ?s been a long time and also because Pittsburgh fans don ?t boo Santa Claus.

Michael is a Pirates contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. Michael is former submarine officer and Naval Academy grad. He now runs a small consulting firm and does veteran related job fairs. He is a SABR member and regularly attends Altoona Curve games to scout the Pirate prospects.