As this series on the most random Philadelphia Phillies players from the 1971-2019 teams continues, fans of the ball club might be surprised at just how veteran a bunch the 2005 team fielded among its position player group.
First-year manager Charlie Manuel opened with half of his regular lineup at age 31 or older in first baseman Jim Thome (33), center fielder Kenny Lofton (38), right fielder Bobby Abreu (31) and catcher Mike Lieberthal (33) as starters.
The bench group included five players who were also 31 or older. The young players who were on the roster would all go on to become fixtures for the Phillies or other MLB clubs over the ensuing years.
So, the selection for the most random position player for that 2005 team, someone who combined minimum impact on that team and for an overall MLB career, is utility infielder Matt Kata.
Kata is a native of Ohio who was a ninth round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks during the 1999 MLB Amateur Draft out of Vanderbilt University. He reached the big-leagues four years later, seeing significant playing time with a 2003 Dbacks squad that was in serious NL Wildcard contention through August.
Kata was a member that year of what became known as the popular “Baby Backs”, a group of young players who filled in for injured veterans and kept the team in contention. For his part, Kata was Arizona’s starting second baseman for a month that year while Junior Spivey was out with an injury.
Kata began the 2004 season as the starting second baseman with the Dbacks but slashed just .247/.301/.364 with 13 extra-base hits over 178 plate appearances. He would be lost to the team at that point with a shoulder injury for the balance of the season.
He returned in 2005 and was hitting .310 over 46 games at Triple-A Tucson when, on July 21, he was traded to the Phillies for veteran reliever Tim Worrell and cash considerations.
Kata hit .313 with Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre in the Phillies organization during the 2005 season and received a pair of promotions to Philadelphia. From July 24-August 2, Kata played in five games during a week-long stay with the club. He then returned to the team when rosters expanded in September, appearing in five more games.
On July 24, 2005 at Citizens Bank Park, Manuel sent Kata up to pinch-hit for reliever Ryan Madson leading off the bottom of the 7th inning of a game the Phillies led 4-1 over the San Diego Padres. He would loop a base hit to center field off Clay Hensley, but then was immediately wiped out on the front end of a 6-4-3 doubleplay hit into by the very next batter, Jason Michaels.
Four days later on July 28, 2005 at Coors Field in Denver, Kata was sent to pinch-run for David Bell, who had doubled leading off the top of the 9th inning with the Phillies and host Colorado Rockies tied at 5-5. Four batters later with two outs and Kata at third base, Tomas Perez singled him home for what would prove to be the winning run in an 8-5 victory.
Overall that year with the Phillies, Kata slashed just .167/.167/.167 with just that one hit and run scored over a half-dozen plate appearances across 10 games. Kata would go to spring training with the Phillies in 2006 where he was selected off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds in mid-March.
Kata would drift through five organizations after leaving the Phillies, including multiple stints with the Texas Rangers. He appeared in 78 big-league games in the 2007 season split between Texas and the Pittsburgh Pirates, and then in 40 games with the 2009 Houston Astros.
Kata returned to the Rangers organization and played with their Triple-A team at Round Rock through the 2012 campaign. He now works for the Cleveland Indians organization in their youth development program.