The Phillies outrighted outfielder Tyson Gillies from the 40-man roster earlier today, a formality given the outfielder’s on-the-field struggles. As the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb put it, however, it was the Phillies conceding another mistake. Gillies will remain in the organization, but the move severely impacts his chances of making the major leagues with the Phillies.
Gillies, 25, was one of the three players GM Ruben Amaro acquired in the Cliff Lee trade with the Seattle Mariners in December 2009. The other two players, Phillippe Aumont and J.C. Ramirez, have also disappointed, but Gillies is on another level. His baseball-related struggles were obvious. His OPS by year, starting with 2010, went .638, .462, .809, 685, .588. He battled leg injuries that sapped his speed, as he went from 44 stolen bases in 2009 with Single-A High Desert in the Mariners’ system to 31 in his entire time in the Phillies’ system.
Gillies made a habit out of throwing temper tantrums and was memorably involved in last year’s brawl between Team Canada and Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. On June 3, he was reportedly involved in a shouting match with his coaches. A few days prior, he went 0-for-5 and damaged a wall and bat rack outside the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ clubhouse.
As for the other two members of the Lee trade, the Phillies outrighted Ramirez last October. Ramirez then elected free agency and later joined the Indians but he hasn’t done a whole lot for them. Aumont has been a tire fire, allowing two home runs in the only two games he has appeared in the big leagues this season, while walking 22 in 26 1/3 innings at Triple-A with a 4.44 ERA. The Lee trade with the Mariners, one could say, has not worked out well for the Phillies.
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.