When the Phillies declined contract options for Brad Lidge and Roy Oswalt on Monday, the Phillies started the “moving on” process as they parted ways with two pitchers who have contributed to their recent line of playoff appearances. Lidge, the hero of a perfect 2008 season, finishing it off with one slider that will be etched into the memories of fans everywhere and, Roy Oswalt, the man who helped make up “H2O” in the 2010 season.
When these two were teammates in Houston in 2005, neither of them thought that they would be back to the postseason anytime soon. Well, after Lidge arrived in Philly in 2008, he got that taste of the postseason and then some. When Oswalt came over in midseason 2010 and helped the Phillies get to the postseason, he plowed his way through the second half, earning up to his hype.
Oswalt spent most of his career with the Houston Astros attaining a 143-82 record and a 3.24 ERA, joined the Phillies mid-season 2010. Going 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA for the Phillies in the second half of 2010, Oswalt helped push the Phillies into the playoffs. There, he went 1-1 with a 3.62 ERA. In the 2011 postseason, Oswalt fared vulnerable in the NLDS, losing Game 4 to the Cardinals after allowing 5 runs on 6 hits through 6 innings. In two seasons with the Phillies, Oswalt went 16-11 with a 2.96 ERA in 35 starts.
If Oswalt is to walk, I will be okay with it. I personally believe his prime is past him, and 2010 was his last best season. I could be right or I could be wrong, though. Vance Worley seems to be ready for more another season full of big league starts. In just his first full season with the big club (excluding call downs to the minors), Worley proved himself to be a strong weapon for the Phillies’ rotation this past season. The 23-year-old righty won an impressive 11 games, losing just three and etching a 3.04 ERA.
As for now, Oswalt’s career is in his own hands.
"The 0–2 pitch — swing and a miss, struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of baseball! Brad Lidge does it again, and stays perfect for the 2008 season! 48-for-48 in save opportunities, and let the city celebrate!" -Harry Kalas
Looking at Brad Lidge, we all remember the 0-2 slider that sent the City of Philadelphia into a long-awaited jubilation. Screams and cheers overtook the crisp October air as Lidge struck out the Tampa Bay Rays’ Eric Hinske to clinch the 2008 World Series, the first World Series title in 28 years, and the city’s first title in any major sport in 25 years. With 41 saves in 41 opportunities in the regular season, Lidge continued his dominance throughout the postseason, sealing seven saves in seven opportunities.
I was just 14 years old that night and I knew it then and there that it was the greatest moment that I had ever witnessed. Now we all look back to that magic season and, after failing to do it again the past three seasons, we realize that a return of 2008’s Brad Lidge was highly unlikely. In the beginning of the 2009 season, Lidge continued his success for three saves. The first blown save was inevitable.
‘Sure I’ll let the first one go, the guy couldn’t keep it going forever.’ I thought. ‘A second one? It’s alright, it’s normal.’ ‘A third blown save? Okay he is getting in a slump.’ But after an 0-3 record and 7.57 ERA in nearly 30 innings pitched through the month of June, it was apparent that the “edge” that Lidge had the season before wasn’t there anymore.
He finished the 2009 season with an 0-8 record and a 7.21 ERA, while earning 31 saves in 42 opportunities. In the postseason, Lidge went 1-0 with three saves throughout the NLDS and NLCS. In the World Series, Lidge took the loss in Game 4 after allowing three runs in the 9th inning against the New York Yankees.
The anger of 2009 somewhat suppressed during the following season. Missing the first half of the 2010 season, Lidge rebounded as he converted 17 of his last 18 save opportunities during the regular season and recorded two saves during the 2010 postseason in which he did not allow a run. Lidge finished 2010 with a 2.96 ERA and 27 saves in 32 opportunities.
Okay, so maybe he is going to be good again. Not to the same magnitude as 2008, but still stable. Maybe in 2011 he’ll be better, I estimated he would earn about 35 saves again.
That wasn’t necessarily the case.
This past season, Lidge again missed the first half of the season with shoulder discomfort. Making his season debut on July 25th, Lidge threw an 11-pitch, perfect seventh inning in a 4-5 Phillies’ loss. With Ryan Madson already filling the closer’s role, Lidge was brought in to close out the game infrequently, saving just 1 game in 25 appearances. Along with an 0-2 record, Lidge finished the season with a 1.43 ERA.
In four seasons with the Phillies, Lidge posted a 3-11 record with 100 saves and a 3.73 ERA, adding a 1.77 ERA and 12 saves in 22 postseason appearances.
The Phillies bought out Brad Lidge’s contract on Monday, eating up $1.5 million. The man who brought this city something that hadn’t been delivered in over 25 years is now a free agent after three seasons of lackluster pitching after his magical 2008.
Ruben Amaro doesn’t believe that this is necessarily the end for Lidge and Oswalt.
“While we will not pick up either of their options, we will remain in contact with representatives for both players about the possibility of bringing them back for the 2012 season,” Amaro said. “Brad and Roy both made significant contributions to the Phillies over the past several seasons.”
The Phillies have just begun their first stage of offseason moves. With the rejection of Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge’s club options, it leaves Ryan Madson’s and Jimmy Rollins’ contracts still up for renewal. As for Brad Lidge, he played the largest role on the team that brought us all what 27 previous Phillies teams couldn’t, a World Series.
If Brad Lidge doesn’t come back next year, I want to thank him for the best season of mine and millions of fans’ lives. You made being a Philadelphia Phillies fan a whole new game. I wish him nothing but the best.
Erik Seybold is a contributor to BuzzOnBroad. You can follow him on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI
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