I have written here several times (10/11/11, 5/20/11, and 7/30/11) about Domonic Brown and the terrible mishandling of the talented, young outfielder by the Philadelphia Phillies. Still just 25 years old, Brown faces another uphill battle with Phillies’ management signing Delmon Young to a one-year, $750,000 deal on Tuesday.
Young adds a right-handed element to the Phillies crowded outfield, as he joins Brown, John Mayberry, Jr., Laynce Nix, Darin Ruf, and Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte as possible corner outfielders. Only Ben Revere seems locked into a job in center, with the other six men fighting for two spots.
While Rotoworld stated that Brown will likely see most of his at-bats in right field, you have to wonder if Ruben Amaro, Jr. is going to actually stick to that. He is the same man who said that Brown needed another full season in Triple-A in 2012, only to give the outfielder another up and down season with just 187 major league at-bats and 220 at-bats for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
While Brown is not Jason Heyward, the two were likened to each other at times coming up through the minor leagues. The major difference: Heyward was given an opportunity in Atlanta after posting a .953 OPS over three levels (as high as Triple-A) in 2009, earning the every day right field job in Atlanta in 2010. In 2009, Brown also went through three levels (as high as Double-A), while posting an .880 OPS. He hasn’t received his opportunity yet
Over the last three seasons, Brown now has 465 at-bats in Triple-A and 433 at-bats in the majors. Considering 500 at-bats is the norm for an everyday player, why has Brown been riding the bench in Philadelphia instead of getting everyday at-bats, and if he isn’t ready, why is he not in Lehigh Valley full-time instead of sharing outfield duties with Raul Ibanez and Ben Francisco over the last few years?
The Phillies have played with their talent a bit too much, here, and for a team that has so quickly aged with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard leading the offense, they needed to actually give Brown the job and see what he could do, allowing him to prove that he is a failure instead of miscasting him as one without a full opportunity to prove the theory wrong.
While the Phillies rely on Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee to win them so many games in 2013, it is still questionable as to whether the team is going to rely on Domonic Brown. After signing Delmon Y0ung, it looks like the one-time No.4 prospect in all of baseball will have to prove himself and fight for at-bats among a group of less talented peers.
Brown still has value and for a team that seems to have no interest in building around him or giving him an opportunity, perhaps it is time to deal him for a pitcher that doesn’t cost $30 million per season or a younger position player who isn’t earning nearly three times what they are worth, like Rollins, Utley, and Howard.