The 2000 Philadelphia Phillies: The Andy Ashby Mistake

3 Mar 2000: Andy Ashby #43 of the Philadelphia Phillies (No photo credit given)
3 Mar 2000: Andy Ashby #43 of the Philadelphia Phillies (No photo credit given) /

Remembering Andy Ashby’s unique tenure with the Philadelphia Phillies .

During this 20th anniversary commemoration of the 2000 Philadelphia Phillies season, we’ve touched on numerous individual players who had the dishonor of being part of that club.

It’s run the gamut from guys who were laughably bad and contributed to the doldrums of that campaign (like Desi Relaford and Rob Ducey) to players who actually offered some sliver of hope for the future, such as Pat Burrell. Overall, though, nobody from that team came off as a true villain.

Nobody except for pitcher Andy Ashby.

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To refresh your memory, Ashby originally broke into Major League Baseball with the Phillies by making a smattering of starts during the 1991 and 1992 seasons. The Phils would go on to lose him to Colorado in the expansion draft, but Ashby made his way to San Diego shortly after that, where he would blossom into a solid pitcher. He put together a pair of all-star seasons in 1998 and 1999, at which point the Phillies made a splash by trading for him. It looked like he could actually give the team a formidable 1-2 punch atop the rotation (joining Curt Schilling). It didn’t happen.

With Schilling on the disabled list to start the season, Ashby got the call on Opening Day. He responded by allowing six runs in six innings, taking the loss. Ashby would mix in some good starts after that, but his results were still uneven enough (especially at home) to leave his ERA at 6.27 by the end of May. It was somewhere around this point that the grumbling began.

Ashby’s contract was up at the end of the 2000 season, which is the only reason that the Phillies were able to acquire him to begin with. But negotiations weren’t going well, and it was already starting to look like the Phillies would need to trade him before the deadline. Ashby even went on record in early June about his dissatisfaction, complaining how bad his feelings were being hurt by home fans booing him at the Vet.

Shortly after that, Ashby hit the DL when a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand got infected, which is a direct signal from the universe that this wasn’t going to end well. His first action upon his return was a terrible start at home, during which he got into a shouting match with several Phillies fans who were heckling him for his poor performance. He’d actually follow that bomb with two good starts (one away, one at home) before finally being dealt to the Atlanta Braves on July 12, 2000. In return, we got to enjoy a year of Bruce Chen, so it wasn’t all bad.

Ashby’s final numbers with the Phillies that year showed a 4-7 record with a 5.68 ERA. Some acquisition. At least the players that the Phillies traded to San Diego for him didn’t go on to do anything notable, except for Adam Eaton, who would stab himself while opening a DVD and then nearly sabotaged the Phillies’ 2008 World Series win many years later.

Phillies history is full of players who didn’t work out after signing contracts or being brought to town through a trade. But you’d be hard-pressed to find someone whose performance relative to expectations was as lousy as Ashby’s. Throw in the fact that he seemed to want out of town almost immediately and clearly couldn’t handle the fans (which is odd, since he had already pitched in Philadelphia before), and Andy Ashby stands out as one of the truly most reprehensible Phillies of the last few decades.

Zach Eflin will likely benefit from shortened season. dark. Next

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since the Phillies got rid of him, because the mention of Andy Ashby’s name still leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of Philadelphia fans today.