The Phillies wrapped up their three-game set with the San Francisco Giants on with an extra-inning loss on Wednesday, despite a late-comeback that nearly led to a sweep of the World Series champs. In the end, the Giants prevailed, and among them was former Phillie Hunter Pence, who hit a pair of home runs during the three game set against his former team.
Pence, who spent nearly a season with the Phils, is enjoying an .821 OPS in the early goings with the Giants. On Tuesday, he had some interesting words to say about his former club. Courtesy of Ryan Lawrence of the Daily News.
"To be honest with you, I felt really guilty," Pence said. "I felt like I did something wrong. Obviously I shouldn’t have looked at it that way, it was the wrong way to look at it. But I was, there was a lot of excitement to be put into this race. But I was heavily invested in bringing the Phillies back, and it felt like… I felt guilty. I felt like it was my fault that it fell apart."
And here I thought that all athletes were emotionless automatons.
In all seriousness, it's interesting that Pence feels that way, considering that it's about as far from the truth as you can get. It's not Pence's fault that the Phillies find themselves in the position that they are in. Instead blame should go to the front office personnel who saw fit to tear the organization apart from the inside, thanks to bad trades, bad free agent acquisitions, and the slow but steady erosion of one of the game's best farm systems.
For all of Pence's foibles – and there were many – he was a fine player during his time in Philly, however short his stay. Despite being an unnecessary addition to the 2011 team that was already running the table on the National League, he posted a .954 OPS in 54 games with the Phillies, en route to a 102 win season and their fifth straight National League east division title.
And even though that season ended with an early exit from the playoffs, no one should have been pointing their finger at Pence for what went down at the tail end of that season and during the first half of 2012. I suppose it speaks to his character that he feels that way, but it's a waste of worry for things that were well out of his control.
If anything, the Phillies fell prey to an unfortunate set of circumstances. Players got hurt, others stopped performing, and the National League east turned into a buzz saw thanks to the rise of the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves. And to his credit, he was solid enough with a .271/.336/.447 line, and his 17 home runs would lead the team at the time of his departure.
If anyone was to be at fault, it's General Manager Ruben Amaro, whose lack of foresight and a win-now-at-all-costs desire resulted in one of the oldest, most expensive teams in the league without a proper farm system from which to rebuild. Since he started calling the shots in 2009, the Phillies have acquired some amazing players, but at a cost that has proven to be unsustainable in the long run.
So while it's nice that he still feels some responsibility for what happened, there is really no reason to. He did his job, and he did it well. And that's about as much as you can ask from a ballplayer. For what it's worth, I find that most Phillies fans were happy for Hunter Pence when he helped the San Francisco Giants to their second World Series in three seasons in 2012. I'd have been much happier if he was hoisting the Commissioner's Trophy while wearing red pinstripes, but it just wasn't in the cards.