A highly-touted pitching prospect in the Braves' farm system, Chen was expected to team with lefty Odalis Perez to succeed Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Greg Maddux as the next generation of dominant Atlanta starters. Pleased with Chen's progress in Double-A, the club had no qualms about trading Denny Neagle before the 1999 season, assuming that the 24-year-old Panamanian would make the rotation by the middle of the season. But despite his success in the minors, Chen didn't impress as a spot starter, and in July 2000, with Atlanta looking for established pitching help for the postseason stretch, he was dealt with a minor leaguer to the Philadelphia Phillies for Andy Ashby.
Chen was a full-fledged starter for the rest of 2000, and ended up with hopes of being the first or second starter the following year. But while the rest of the 2001 Phillies staff enjoyed moderate success, Chen suffered. After a 4-5 record and 5.00 ERA at the beginning of July, he was sent down to Double-A for retooling, and then traded with a minor league pitcher to the New York Mets for relievers Turk Wendell and Dennis Cook. (AG)
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FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»July 12, 2000:
The Braves swap pitchers Bruce Chen and Jimmy Osting to the Phillies for P Andy Ashby. Chen, who made 22 appearances for the Braves this year, all in relief, will make 15 appearances for the Phils—all starts (as noted by Wayne McElreavy).
»July 27, 2001:
The Mets trade experience for youth, sending pitchers Turk Wendell and Dennis Cook to the Phillies in exchange for pitchers Bruce Chen and Adam Walker. The two Vets will struggle with the Phils.
»April 17, 2002:
Montreal scores eight times in the 4th inning and the Expos go on to defeat the Cubs, 15–8. Chris Truby hits a 2–run triple in the frame and Vlad Guerrero lines a bases–loaded triple. Expo starter Tomokazu Ohka exits after failing to retire any of the first six batters, but Bruce Chen supplies four solid innings.
»June 14, 2002:
The Reds and Expos exchange pitchers, with Bruce Chen going to Cincinnati and Jim Brower to Montreal.