Onetime Phillie Brandon Moss thrives with Oakland

The Athletics' Brandon Moss greets Yoenis Cespedes at the plate after a home run. (Kathy Willens/AP)
The Athletics' Brandon Moss greets Yoenis Cespedes at the plate after a home run. (Kathy Willens/AP)
Posted: July 16, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS - Brandon Moss batted six times for the 2011 Phillies, a team that established a franchise standard with 102 wins. The Phillies offered Moss, then 28 and unspectacular, another minor-league contract. So, too, did Oakland.

There was familiarity with the Phillies, who watched Moss bash 23 homers at triple-A Lehigh Valley. But the end, when John Bowker was afforded a better opportunity at a Phillies bench job than Moss, stung.

"They had kind of shown I probably wasn't the guy they were looking for in the organization," Moss said. "Whereas Oakland didn't know much about me, but I felt like the things I did as a player were probably more in line with what Oakland looks for than what Philly looks for."

Moss, a first-time all-star at age 30, has crushed 72 home runs for the Athletics since then. (Ryan Howard has 40.) Bowker plays for the Campeche Pirates in the Mexican League.

But Moss cannot fault the Phillies for their decisions.

"No one could have anticipated I would go from struggling at the beginning of my career to now I'm in an All-Star Game," Moss said. "You can't anticipate that."

Even so, had the Phillies retained Moss, he does not believe the same path was possible. Moss relies on precise timing for his swing, timing that is achieved only with regular playing time. He would have languished as a fifth outfielder.

"I don't think I would be here if I had had an opportunity with the Phillies," Moss said. "It wouldn't have been the same opportunity [as Oakland]. I know there has been a lot of stuff said about time with the Phillies, but you have to look at the team they had. There wasn't an opportunity to play every day."

Doolittle stoked

Sean Doolittle, the former two-time Inquirer South Jersey baseball player of the year from Shawnee High in Medford, was an outfielder at triple-A Sacramento in 2009. Now he is an all-star reliever.

The Oakland closer said this week is almost like being a fan.

"I was walking around the hotel," Doolittle said. "I saw some of the guys. I saw [Derek] Jeter and I was like, 'Whoa.' I mean this . . . are you kidding me?"

Doolittle, the closer for the best team in baseball, boasts an unthinkable 63-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That 31.50 ratio would be the highest ever for any pitcher; Dennis Eckersley's 18.33 in 1989 is the next closest for pitchers with a minimum of 40 innings.

"It's been something I couldn't help but notice so far this year," the 27-year-old Doolittle said. "Being a former hitter, I remember how hard hitting can be. I realize that I have a little bit of deception and velocity. If I can locate, especially early in the count, I'll take those odds."

Extra bases

Seattle's Felix Hernandez and St. Louis' Adam Wainwright will start Tuesday's game. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny chose his own pitcher over Clayton Kershaw, who has similar numbers. "The numbers line up, and it's obvious that this is a high-caliber pitcher who I believe to some degree has never even been given the amount of respect that he's due," Matheny said of Wainwright. "So I'm honored to be able to put this title on him and watch what he does." . . . Chase Utley will bat seventh for the National League. Fun fact: Utley last batted seventh for the Phillies on June 29, 2005, when he was 26.

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