Phillies fall just short of repeat in '09
Defending champs lose World Series in six games
PHILADELPHIA -- Oh, so close.
For just the second time in franchise history, the Phillies flipped the calendar to a new year as defending World Series champions. They captivated Philadelphia as they beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 World Series, which allowed Philadelphians to enjoy their first championship parade since 1983, when the 76ers won the NBA championship.
It would be tough to defend their crown, but the Phillies came close, losing to the New York Yankees in six games in the 2009 World Series.
Here is a look back at 2009:
The Phillies filled most of their offseason holes in 2008, but still kept busy in January. They signed right-hander Chan Ho Park to a one-year, $2.5 million contract on Jan. 6. They convinced him to sign with the promise that he would compete for a spot in the rotation with J.A. Happ, Kyle Kendrick and Carlos Carrasco. They also signed Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson, Jayson Werth and Greg Dobbs to multiyear contract extensions. But the news wasn't all good. Major League Baseball announced left-hander J.C. Romero received a 50-game suspension for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing substances.
The Phillies signed Ryan Howard to a three-year, $54 million contract extension, and a few weeks later released Adam Eaton, whose three-year, $24.5 million contract turned into one of the most disappointing in franchise history.
The Phillies made plenty of news in Spring Training. They released Geoff Jenkins and awarded Park the final spot in the rotation over Happ. Jack Taschner arrived in a trade with the Giants for Ronny Paulino, Hamels suffered an elbow injury and Brett Myers got the Opening Night start as a result.
The Phillies received their World Series championship rings during the season's first homestand against the Braves, but nothing on the field truly mattered in April after legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas died on the 13th in the broadcast booth at Nationals Park. Kalas had been broadcasting Phillies games since 1971. He was the voice of summer for Philadelphians, who many around the country knew as the voice of NFL Films.
The Phillies still had reminders of 2008 everywhere, and it seemed to be affecting their play. They were 16-16 when they visited the White House on May 15. They went 77-53 (.592) the rest of the way for the second-best record in the National League and the fourth-best in baseball. Myers was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a hip injury that ultimately required surgery. He wouldn't return until September. Howard set a franchise record May 31 with his eighth career grand slam. Jamie Moyer won his 250th career game. Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee replaced Park in the rotation with Happ.
Brad Lidge, who suffered through a terrible season, went on the DL with a sprained right knee. Jimmy Rollins, who suffered through the worst first half of his career, got benched for a weekend in Toronto.
Fans voted Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez as starters on the National League All-Star team. Howard, Shane Victorino and Werth made the team as reserves, but Victorino found himself in the starting lineup when Carlos Beltran could not play because of an injury. But during All-Star week, the Phillies came to an agreement with right-hander Pedro Martinez on a one-year contract. That was just the start of things. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. acquired Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco from the Indians for prospects Jason Knapp, Carrasco, Lou Marson and Jason Donald. The moves boosted a rotation that had struggled most of the season. Lee threw a complete game in his Phillies debut on July 31, a 5-1 victory over the Giants at AT&T Park.
The Phillies started August slowly, losing six of their first nine games. But things then started to turn around. Martinez made his Phillies debut in a 12-5 victory over the Cubs on Aug. 12, and finished 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine starts with the Phillies, which went 8-1 in those games.
The Phillies clinched their third consecutive National League East championship Sept. 30 with a 10-3 victory over the Houston Astros. It was just the second time in franchise history that the Phillies made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. The first came in 1976-78.
The Phillies continued to prove themselves as the class of the National League. They beat the Colorado Rockies in four games in the NL Division Series, which included late-inning heroics in Games 3 and 4 at Coors Field. They beat the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second consecutive season in the NL Championship Series. Rollins had an incredible walk-off double to right-center field to win Game 4 at Citizens Bank Park. They pounded the Dodgers in Game 5 to clinch their second consecutive trip to the World Series.
The Yankees beat the Phillies in the World Series in six games. Lee finished an unbelievable postseason in which he went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five starts. The Phillies were the first NL team to play in consecutive World Series since the 1995-96 Braves, but fell short of their goal of becoming the first NL team to win consecutive World Series since the 1975-76 Reds.
The Phillies completed arguably one of the biggest trades in baseball history when they acquired Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays for three prospects. They then sent Lee to the Seattle Mariners for three prospects. They also signed Halladay to a three-year, $60 million contract extension, and inked third baseman Placido Polanco, catcher Brian Schneider, outfielder Ross Gload and infielder Juan Castro.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.