100 Greatest Phillies

100 Greatest Phillies: 97 – Jose Mesa

Jose Mesa
Relief pitcher
2001-2003, 2007

Career w/Phillies: 242 IP / 13-18 / 4.05 ERA / 188 K / 112 SV

Mesa, believe it or not, is the all-time franchise leader in saves. Joe Table had two fantastic years in 2001 and ’02, with 42 and 45 saves, respectively. In that 2001, Mesa walked only 20 hitters in his 69.1 innings, staking out to a 2.34 ERA — his second-best total, besides his remarkable 1995 season for Cleveland. Known for his colorful gloves, his unknown age and possibly ridiculous sexual exploits, Mesa was always one of baseball’s more eccentric figures. At that point, that was all you could expect from him. Mesa returned to the Phillies in 2007, and was relegated to mop-up-type work.

Comment: Wash that 2007 out of your mouth — Mesa was one of the best Phillie closers, and his numbers show that. He ranks very closely with Bottalico — while Ricky had the better numbers, Mesa was flashier. They go hand in hand.



  1. Geoff

    December 20, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    I would LOVE to see all these teams blackball mark texeira because of this insane asking price. like they did last year when a-rod opted out: EVERY team blackballed him and the yankees made him come crawling back begging.

    they need to do that with tex and manny. the fact that they refused a 2 year 50mm deal for manny is absurd. mlb needs to send a message to boras to get real: blackball those two guys and move on. same with lowe, these three guys, and boras, have basically held up the ENTIRE offseason. you can thank these guys for the reason why its so slow. players will have to drop their values and boras doesnt get it yet…so instead of waiting around the angels resigned rivera, smartly, and other teams need to follow suit and shut them out…

  2. Geoff

    December 20, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    mesa brought every single batter i can remember him facing to a full count…it drove me crazy

  3. Chutley

    December 20, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    i thought the all time saves leader would be a little higher

  4. Mike B.

    December 20, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Oh my God. I just had a heart attack.

    I know this isn’t fair to Jose, but I most remember the Jose Mesa of 2003. And that year, he sucked. His ERA that September was over 20?

    I know he had some good years with us the years before that; I just wish I remembered them better.

  5. Tim Malcolm

    December 20, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Ha. I await the “Jose Mesa? Really?” comments, and you come with “thought he’d be higher.”

    Saves are kinda bogus, really, but they do count for something. When I looked at Mesa I looked at his ERA and such. In fact, Ricky Bo, Mesa and Mitchie-Poo are very close in a lot of ways. So there’s a hint.

    BTW, no Lidge. I’m not counting guys who had one season with the Phils. But if I did count him, I’d have him very very close to this point. No Wags, either. Maybe out of spite, I don’t know.

  6. KM

    December 20, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Can’t aruge again, he did have some solid year, but I do hate him with every fiber of my being.

  7. Jim

    December 20, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Jose “always make things interesting” Mesa

  8. boxage

    December 20, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Jose sliced a few years off my lifespan.

  9. Mazinman

    December 20, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    I would put Lidge on the list. Sure its been only one season but can a fan ask anything more than a championship? He could retire tommorrow and still be beloved.

    As for Mesa, when he was good it was great to watch. When he was bad it was torture. Still I can agree with him being in this position in the list.

  10. Gavin

    December 20, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Joe Table….he may be my most hated Phillie of all time. Let me guess Travis Lee is #96. Come on Tim, the guy had some good save years, but i blew out a vocal chord one time booing when he came in and gave up a game tying solo shot to some Mets rookie, then gave up consecutive doubles off the wall on back to back pitches to blow the lead. I think that was the year after his best season.

    Blows the WS for the Tribe and sucks for us. The only Top 100 list he should be on is the top 100 douchebags of all time. Plus I hated that whole red glove blue glove LL crap.

    Other than that I love the pick.

  11. Georgie

    December 20, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Eeewwww-“known for his ridiculous sexual exploits”? I never heard about that, and prefer to remain nausea-free today, so I’ll refrain from googling him(although my morbid curiosity is now starting to get the best of me).

  12. Jim

    December 20, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    I suspect we will see tom gordon in the top 90

  13. Matt

    December 20, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Tim – if Lidge was only signed for a year, and left after 2008, you wouldn’t consider him one of the 100 greatest Phillies of all-time?

  14. Rob Cowie

    December 20, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Mesa Time

  15. T Marty

    December 20, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    my guess is Porfi Altamirano, (am i spelling that right?) for #96, Heck, he had a winning percentage rivaled by few.

  16. Jack

    December 20, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    who’s next? Desi Relaford?!?!!?

  17. Robert Kreider

    December 20, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    As soon as I saw Mesa’s name I had a Pavlovian response and immediately started booing my computer. I know he should be on this list, but I also HATE that he is on this list. I know Larry Bowa feels the same way. If Mesa makes the list as a reliever than I can wait to see where Steve Bedrosian (Cy-Young Award), Al Holland, Jim Konstanty, and Mitch Williams turn up.
    I think you have to clarify as to whether we’re talking about all-time great players who played for the Phillies, or Players who had their best seasons for the Phillies. If it is the former, then you also have to look at all-time great relief pithers like: Sparky Lyle Kent Tekulve, Billy Wagner, Gene Garber, and Roger McDowell. I’d have to put these guys ahead of Ricky Bo’

  18. Mark

    December 20, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    speaking of hands … did Mesa really have an extra finger??

    Please, be gentle.

  19. Greg V.

    December 20, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Have there only been 100 people to ever play for the Phillies? I’m starting to wonder! JOSE MESA?

    Mark, Antonio Alfonseca had the extra finger (I’m putting my money on him for 96!).

  20. Greg V.

    December 20, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Actually, he had two extra fingers!

  21. Greg V.

    December 20, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Mesa just didn’t know where to put his fingers. Lol!

  22. Jason B

    December 20, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Joe Table… Really? Come on. Yes he had 45 saves in a season. 42 in another. That doesn’t automatically put him on this list. Tim, i respect the hell out of you, but I cannot agree with you here. My favorite memory of Mesa was labor day against the Red Sox. In the thick of a play off race, the Phils had a 4 run lead going into the 9th. Then all of the sudden… Boom, Trot Nixon grand slam. The only good thing that came out of that day was the Steve Carlton bobbleheads they gave out. If I’m not mistaken, that was a make up game. there originally no game scheduled for Labor day that year.

  23. Greg V.

    December 20, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I remember him coming in last season with a 10 run lead to close it out, and I still didn’t like it!

  24. Greg V.

    December 20, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Larry Anderson better make the top 50!

  25. Griffin

    December 20, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Jeff Brantley made Jose Mesa look like Brad Lidge. Props to Joe Table and his blue glove. I wonder what Omar Vizquel thinks of this ranking?

  26. Jason

    December 20, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    It is ludicrous to have Mesa on this list and not have Wagner.

    Also, Lidge meant more to this city in one season then Mesa did over a few.

    Your list, my opinions.

    But what if you hated Kruk like you hate Wags? Or even someone like Rico Brogna (who I assume will be on this list), or Mariano Duncan, Greg Jeffries, or Tommy Greene?

    I’d take all the guys I named on this list over Mesa by the way. And I despise Jeffries.

  27. Mark

    December 20, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    I always confused Mesa and Alfonseca. Anyone else have this problem?

  28. DD

    December 20, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Having Mesa on this list is like bragging about being the tallest midget in the circus.

  29. Brian Michael

    December 20, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Yes, I don’t think I’ve ever hated anyone more than Jose Mesa on that Labor Day game in 2003. Luckily, I have the pictures to remind me.


    He redeemed himself when almost beat up Howard Eskin though.

  30. Andrew R.

    December 20, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    I almost got kicked out of Vet stadium in 2003 because of Jose Mesa. It was a Sunday game and I was so fed up with him blowing saves. I got there early and they were all warming up and a ball went over Mesa’s head and came towards the seats. He got within 6 feet of me and I gave the typical asshole hater comment of “Mesa, YOU SUCK!” He didnt look at me but waved and said yea, thank you. Carlos Silva was standing there trying to stare me down, (he sucked too), but i remember being a little sad cuz bobby abreu gave me a dirty look as well. (hey, i was only 15, and at the time i loved abreu).

    Well wouldnt you know it, it was a sunday game, and some kind of give-away so there were parents and kids all over the place and somebody told on me. I was ushered out of there for making an ‘obscene comment’ and was told never to return for the rest of the game.

    And wouldnt you know it, by the end of the week, he had lost his closer’s job, didnt achieve the 14 appearances needed for his contract extension, and i like to think it was all because of me. and i beg to differ on the ‘obscene’ stuff, it was truth. he was garbage. even in his good years here, he still blew like 7 saves a season, too many. As for obscene, i saw his trial on Court TV. Something about him putting his fingers somewhere in a woman’s body…….. that’s obscene. He’s the Pee Wee Herman of baseball and he still sucks.

  31. Ed R.

    December 21, 2008 at 10:06 am

    No, no, no, no, no, no! Mesa epitomized the horrible adding-gas-to-the-fire Phils’ relievers that tormented fans for so, so long. The comment by Robert Kreider above is dead on about the Phils’ closers. Honestly, I’d take Slocumb over Mesa.

    After this I’m expecting Nino Espinosa to crack the top 25, and why not? He helped us win in ’80 with his “injury”.

    Love the site, by the way.

  32. Georgie

    December 21, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    You just had to keep talking about it, didn’t you? Now I have gone and googled Jose Mesa, found that CourtTV doc, and I was right in my post above- EEEEEWWWWW!!!!

  33. john of Albuquerque

    December 21, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    It’s fun to read the passion the Phils fans have on these subjects. I never liked Mesa and lived in Montgomery County when he was pitching for Philly. But, he did have a couple of good years and was brought to Philly by Larry Bowa, who was just too high strung to manage professional athletes. Mesa deserves credit for being loyal to Bowa. He pitched for Seattle the year before as a set-up man.
    People thought his career was winding down, but he gave us two good years and a real stinker. You can say this: he always brought the emotions out in everyone

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  35. Chuck P

    December 22, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    It’s going to be fun arguing about who was left off of your list…

    Joe Table gave us a couple of good seasons, sure and one really bad season. The franchise saves leader for any other team would surely find a higher spot on the all-franchise list… but this is probably a good spot for Mesa. Regardless, he has to make the list on that merit alone. I remember half-crying, half-laughing when I heard that we signed Mesa in early 2007 (on 610). I couldn’t believe my ears. It still makes me smile… at that point, no one thought that Mesa would be pitching meaningful games in September for us. He pitched 2 innings of no-hit ball in an extra-inning defeat of the Cardinals down the stretch that proved to be huge.

  36. fred

    December 23, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Me and my Dad came over from England in 2007 to watch the Phillies for 2 games in Houston. They lost the first game by a wide enough margin, but the 2nd game went into extras after Alfonseca blew a save on a blown call by the 1st base ump. Anyways, the game went on and on until the bottom of the 14th, when the only reliever we had left was… Jose Mesa. First pitch, Hunter Pence hit a ball that still hasn’t landed. I don’t think i’ve ever been so frustrated in my life, and consequently hate Mesa.

  37. Phan in TN

    December 23, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    I’m obligated to catch up since I haven’t posted since October. Watching Jose with my usual hypertensive ways was amazingly frustrating. Approx 10 minutes per batter drove me bonkers. Yes, he is memorable.

  38. Corrine Cacciatori

    June 4, 2010 at 9:27 am

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