07/10/09 8:10 PM ET
Phillies part ways with catcher Coste
Longtime Minor Leaguer, fan favorite claimed by Astros
By David Gurian-Peck / MLB.com
Coste was claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros on Friday, giving the Phillies roster space to activate Raul Ibanez from the 15-day disabled list.
Coste toiled in the Minors for 11 seasons before joining the Phils in 2006 at the ripe age of 33. He became a fan favorite, and his tale was immortalized in his autobiography, "The 33-Year-Old Rookie."
"At least I'm not going back to the Minor Leagues -- that would have been much tougher," Coste said. "When I first got to the big leagues in 2006, I told myself I just wanted to get one day in the big leagues. Once I got that one day, I wanted a full year. Once I got that full year, I want 10 years. So that's still my approach, is at least I'm still in the big leagues and I'll do whatever I can to help the Astros win at this time."
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said it was not an easy decision to part ways. But Philadelphia had been carrying three catchers, and Coste, now 36, was hitting .245 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 45 games. In the past month, he had started just seven games, while Paul Bako was seeing increased playing time backing up starter Carlos Ruiz.
"It's tough to see Coste go," Manuel said. "He's the type of guy where he's not pretty hitting, but when you put him in the game, he'll get some hits for you, and he did a tremendous job for us. And hopefully he'll go over there in Houston and he'll get to play some."
Coste hit .282 with 23 homers and 98 RBIs in 256 games over four years with the Phillies, the only Major League team he has known.
"I don't know if there's many other cities in all of baseball that would take to me the way Philadelphia has," said Coste, who then joked, "It's almost the kind of stuff you could write a book about."
Still, he's going to an organization where he will have some familiarity. Coste already received a phone call from Astros general manager Ed Wade, who, as GM of the Phillies, signed Coste in 2005 and asked Manuel to give the catcher a look. Coste played for Houston manager Cecil Cooper in the Minors and knows several of the Astros players.
Coste hopes he can contribute.
"When my career is over, I hope that people say, 'He was a good story, but man, he was a pretty good player, as well,'" Coste said. "I'm still kind of aiming for that. If you look at the back of my baseball card, I'm not a Hall of Famer, I'm not an All-Star, but I've had some decent production here and there."
Coste will also be checking up on his Phillies teammates. The Astros come to Philadlephia for four games starting Sept. 28. Coste said he would like to join the many ex-Phillies who homer against their former club, but he also hopes the Phils have already clinched by then.
And as he was with the team for more than half of '09, Coste has an added incentive to root hard.
"Believe me," he said. "I wouldn't mind another free ring out of the deal."
David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.