So the inevitable happened; when the Phillies brought Raul Ibanez off the DL, they DFA’d catcher and noted author Chris Coste. Coste, OPS-ing only .724 and playing sparingly since the arrival of Paul Bako, was suddenly expendable and the Phillies severed ties with the aging cather/right-handed pinch hitter.
While Coste was not nearly as important to the Phillies’ recent success as, say, Chase Utley, but he was a fan favorite, an everyman who, through perseverance, grit and all sorts of things Dusty Baker values over things like plate discipline and defensive range. Being old and not particularly athletic, he was a real public service, a Phillie beloved not for his prowess on the field, but for what he represented–the dream of playing in the major leagues.
Coste was (well, I guess he’s still is, but I always imagined Houston being like purgatory) a real class act. He continued to exude that class after he was waived:
“I wouldn’t say it was a huge shock; my playing time decreased a lot,” he said. “I’m disappointed. At the same time, at least I’m not going back to the minor leagues. That would have been much tougher. Getting sent back to the minors in 2006 and 2007, that was pretty tough. Obviously, with my situation for the past 4 or 5 years, leaving Philadelphia is tough. But in Houston, I’m going to a good situation.
“When I first got into the big leagues in 2006, I wanted to get 1 day in the big leagues. After 1 day, I wanted to get a full year. Once I got that full year, I wanted 10 years. That’s been my approach. I just want to stay in the big leagues as long as I can. I don’t know any other city that would take to me the way Philadelphia has. It’s almost the kind of stuff you can write a book about.”
Funny, gracious and eternally optimistic. It’s no surprise that the Phillie faithful embraced Chris Coste so, and I’m sure we’ll remember him fondly now that he’s gone. It may have been the right baseball decision to waive Coste, but that doesn’t make it any less bittersweet. Best of luck to you, Chris.
On a lighter note, Jayson Werth (the man who misspells both his first and last names) was added to the All-Star roster as a last-minute injury replacement for Carlos Beltran. While many opinionated individuals (including myself) think that Werth’s selection was a bit of homerism by Uncle Cholly, and that Matt Kemp or Pablo Sandoval might have been more deserving, it’s still a nice thing for Werth, who went from being a fourth outfielder who couldn’t hit righties or stay healthy in Toronto or L.A. to a legitimate power-speed guy and a very good defensive corner outfielder in Philly. I wouldn’t have picked Werth for the All-Star team, but bully for him.