The Phillies came into this offseason with a lot of questions regarding their outfield after trading 2 out of their 3 starting outfielders (Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence) at the trade deadline in 2012. Both trades brought back prospects with a good deal of potential, with RHP Ethan Martin coming from the Dodgers for ”the Flyin’ Hawaiin” and catcher Tommy Joseph coming from the Giants for “Indis-Pence-able”. I’ve actually never heard that nickname for Hunter Pence, but that is what he was to the Phillies, ultimately, so I went with it.
By the way, where the hell were our pep talks Hunter?! What, we couldn’t have used them?
Anyway, I’m getting off track here. Unfortunately for the Phils, both of the prospects mentioned play on the dirt and not in the grass. So, to combat that, Nate Schierholtz (among other pieces) was also included in the Pence trade in order to fill one of the two vacant outfield spots. They also brought up former uber-prospect Dominic Brown from AAA Lehigh Valley to fill the other spot for the duration of the 2012 season.
Schierholtz was hardly even given a chance while wearing Phillies’ red during the second half of last season, only stepping to the plate 73 times before being released during the offseason. He may not have been anything flashy, but he was a servicable defender in the corners and not a total eyesore at the plate, batting .273 during that span. One would think that it would have been prudent of the Phils’ brass to keep him for logic’s sake. He was relatively inexpensive, and they had a noticeable lack of experience in their outfield, but seemingly the front office doesn’t subscribe to that sort of tomfoolery.
After letting Schierholtz walk, the Phils still had some options for their outfield, but I don’t think you could find an expert anywhere in the baseball universe that would say they had a plethora of real options.
Those options included John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, Dominic Brown, Darin Ruf, and then possibly Tyson Gillies, who is in the minors and on the Phils’ 40 man roster, but is not really being considered as a major leaguer at this point.
Mayberry has proved to be nothing more than a platoon/bench player. Laynce Nix has either been injured or ineffective thus far in his tenure in red pinstripes. Dominic Brown has all the potential in the world, being a former #1 prospect, but has proven absolutely nothing in his 3 cups o’ coffee in the majors. Darin Ruf is already being nicknamed “Babe Ruf” after his record setting 38 dingers at AA Reading in 2012 and his subsequent September callup with the big boys where he kept on mashing, albeit in an extremely small sample (33 at-bats). Phils’ fans hope that Ruf can keep up that fervent pace as an every day player in the big show, but nobody really knows. Then of course there is Tyson Gillies, who has had issues both on and off the field during his career in minor league ball, but does have some interesting upside if he can put it all together.
In all reality, the Phillies’ organization and their fans knew that, at the least, 1 or 2 guys would need to be brought in to remedy the meager situation in the outfield grass at Citizen’s Bank Park come spring time. Thankfully, there was a flock of free agent outfielders on the market this offseason, and even more options when considering the trade market. We had to get somebody good, right?
When the Phillies came out with the Ben Revere trade, my first thought was “Ben who?”, any relation to Paul? Then I started to look him up, saw the bio, the stats, the highlight video…
and especially…the contract we inherited. I started feeling pretty good about it. Not only does this kid look pretty exciting to watch, but he was young, cheap, and under team control for an extended period of time. Time enough to make plenty more “gifs” while in a Phillies uniform.
I liked Worley as much as the next fan, but losing him wasn’t killing me. He was a 4th starter, and another 4th starter could be had much easier than an every day centerfielder that could help the team, especially at that age/price. Trevor May, ehhh, not really worried about it. We have minor league pitching out the “wah-zoo”, and he had somewhat lost my interest in 2012.
The Revere trade got me thinking that the Phils had something much bigger up their sleeves, either for third base or the corner outfield position. I thought for sure that they were gonna pull a rabbit out of a hat and get Josh Hamilton, similarly to how they pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes during the second ”go ’round” when Cliff Lee ended up as a Phillie.
Then we traded for Michael Young, and the dreams of having another proven slugger in CBP for the foreseeable future got a smidgen bleaker. I admit that for a minute it had me thinking the whole “Michael Young has a good relationship with Hamilton” thing, but that was eventually ruled out by simple math and logic. Amaro isn’t going over the luxury tax, no matter if it makes sense to me for the Phillies to just say “screw it” one year before the threshold goes up another $11 million.
I am not as down as some are about the Michael Young trade, especially as a stopgap. I think he will significantly improve on his offensive numbers from last year, which, in comparison to the rest of the Phillies squad, weren’t as bad as people make them out to be. I know his “value” as stats like WAR point out was low, but I take my WAR with a heavy dose of salt. I am a bit worried about his defense, though, especially when Lannan and Kendrick are on the mound. Then you add in the possibilities defensively that we are speaking of in the outfield, and things get grey. But, I do think that his condensed reps at third base will help considerably in manning the hot corner, and the guy is a consummate professional, so I will hold out judgement.
After we had CF and 3B covered, added starting pitching depth with John Lannan, and a setup guy in Mike Adams, I was feeling a lot better about our offseason. One of our biggest issues last year was our bullpen, after all, and having a proven veteran back there (health assumed) to ease some of the pressure off the youngster’s shoulders gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Whether RAJ courted another corner outfielder or not, I cared not. By this time I knew that the fate of our 2013 season would lay squarely on the shoulders of our pitching and infield. Adding one of the very slight upgrades in the corner outfield category was not going to make or break our season.
Then, it happened. News broke that the Phillies signed Delmon Young. Am I having a nightmare? (OUCH!) Nope, this is real. We have Delmon Young.
Is this the same Delmon Young that has such short strides that it looks as if he is wearing shackles when he runs? The same Delmon Young that shouted anti-semitic slurs outside of a bar last year? The same Delmon Young that is younger than myself, yet looks a solid 15 years older? The same Delmon Young that made, with no exaggeration, the WORST throw in World Series history?….
Yep, thats him. This (above) is what happened when the Tigers were forced to use Delmon Young in the outfield during the World Series, when they couldn’t hide him defensively as a designated hitter playing in a National League park.
At least the Phils play in the American League and won’t have to use him in the outfield on a regular basis in order to get his bat in the lineup. Oh wait…we are in the NL East? Shit….
We might as well just sign Mariah Carey to a one year contract…
Seriously, after seeing those shenanigans on a national stage last year, what the hell was Ruben thinking? Was he that mesmerized by the fact that Young was given the ALCS MVP? Does Young’s agent have the ability to use the “Jedi mind trick” on unsuspecting General Managers? Are we in the twilight zone?
No matter what the explanation is, we now have to deal with it. But what does this mean for the rest of the roster?
Before the Delmon Young signing, I was feeling pretty confident that by the end of spring training Darin Ruf and Dominic Brown would be our starting LF and RF, respectively. Delmon throws a bit of a wrench in those plans, obviously, especially after Ruben Amaro Jr. came out saying that in his “perfect world” Delmon Young would be their every day rightfielder. There is some light at the end of the tunnel, though. Young may be starting the season on the disabled list, leaving an opening for Ruf and Brown to make their moves.
They both have their own liabilities on defense, but I think most would agree that they are much better options in the field than Young. So that just leaves their offensive prowess.
If Ruf seems like he can continue his success at the plate from last season, he shouldn’t have a problem winning the LF spot. The real question is if Brown can win the RF position from Young in head to head competition with only a small head start.
He did show some progress last year, and he has always had a decent approach at the plate, which is sorely needed on this roster no matter what “Clueless Rube” says about walks and production (See interview after Delmon Young announcement).
But will the time Brown has before Young comes off the DL be enough for him to totally adjust to major league pitching and start to fulfill the potential he has always had? We all know the saying ”Only time will tell…”, and it certainly rings true this spring for the Phillies’ former “can’t miss” prospect.
The start of this season is of huge importance for the Phils, and not just because of its implications for the rest of 2013. It is possible that we could find our rightfielder of the future in Dominic Brown in my “perfect world”, or conversely, if Brown continues to underwhelm, we could lose it.
It has been speculated by many analysts that this is Brown’s last chance with the Phillies to earn a place among their starters, and if he doesn’t get it done this year, then he never will. That may mean that he could be traded for whatever they can get out of him, or just let him rot as yet another minor league journeyman that never lived up to the hype.
I for one, truly hope that he passes this “final”, and does so convincingly. It sure would be nice to have him join in the transition of one core to the next. Change is coming Phils fans, and I think we all know it. It’s time to let our young guys show us what they can really do and cross our fingers.