Phillies Dom Brown scales wall to make catch
The way this baseball season has unfolded, the Phillies and their fans must think their living in a bizarro world. The once irrelevant Washington Nationals sit atop the National League East, while the Phillies have toiled at or near the bottom of the division for most of it.
Though the Phillies have displayed some semblance of the team that we’re used to seeing over the last few weeks, last weekend’s debacle against the putrid Houston Astros, losing 3 of 4, may have put an end to their 5 year consecutive playoff run.
But even if they miraculously make the post-season, Phillies general manager, Ruben Amaro, Jr., has a lot of wheeling and dealing to do to fill the holes he’s dug into his aging lineup for 2013.
The biggest question surrounds the outfield configuration. Veteran left fielder, Juan Pierre, may have been the team’s most consistent performer. But at 35, he’s no longer an everyday player, however, if another team doesn’t take a run at him to be one, the Phillies should definitely bring him back to provide leadership and spark off the bench.
John Mayberry, Jr. seems to have all the tools to be a quasi-star, but he was so disappointing when given the starting job in left, it paved the way for Pierre to shine. Mayberry is an outstanding fielder who has trouble with off-speed pitches, explaining why he’s spent most of his career in the minors. He’s had the last two spring trainings to seize one of the corner outfield spots and hasn’t provided the consistent power needed. Recently he’s improved offensively, but he turns 29 in December and may never break through.
Now that center fielder, Shane Victorino is out of the picture with the Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s imperative that Domonic Brown be given the chance to become a fixture in the outfield. And I mean in center field! He possesses the speed and range to play there as well as the arm strength. He flourished and seemed very comfortable at the position after coming back from injury earlier this season for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The Phillies must send him to winter ball to hone his skills and not foolishly overspend in the free agent market.
I admittedly am a fan of Atlanta Braves pending free agent center fielder, Michael Bourn, but $15-20 million for a soon-to-be 30 year old leadoff man that strikes out like a power hitter would not be wise. Despite his blazing speed, great defense and ability to steal bases.
San Francisco Giants center fielder, Melky Cabrera, would have been intriguing until his substance abuse suspension in August, brought to light his season long display of testosterone. So he’s out of the conversation. And unless they can unload pitcher Cliff Lee’s contract, Texas Rangers superstar Josh Hamilton is out of the question. I can’t see the Phillies paying 5 players over $20 million a year, to go with pitchers Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels and first baseman, Ryan Howard. Hamilton’s power would be welcome, but his drug and alcohol abuse issues, not withstanding, would not be worth the risk…especially for 5 years at age 31.
Ruben would be wise to figure out a trade for another corner outfielder who can provide some power, like Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder, Justin Upton, who appears to be on the trade block. He’s just 25 and is coming into his prime. He needs to find another left fielder with power to compete with Mayberry. He should dangle Reading Phillies first baseman, Darin Ruf out there to satisfy this need or to help pry Rangers prospect, Mike Alt to play third base. Ruf may be able to play in left because, let’s face it, Howard’s still healing Achilles and his $125 million contract, renders him untradeable. Right fielder Nate Schierholtz can be a left hand bat off the bench and spot starter. Lance Nix hasn’t done enough, in my eyes, to return next season.
Whatever he does, it’s time for Domonic Brown to become the center piece in the outfield, let him learn as we all cross our fingers and hope he’s the five-tool star he was billed a few years ago. If not, with Brown now 25, the Phillies may have waited too long to find out.