Tag: Domonic Brown

Domonic Brown to Blue Jays: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

The Toronto Blue Jays signed 2013 All-Star outfielder Domonic Brown on Thursday to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, per Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com.

Brown spent the first six years of his big league career as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, who drafted him in the 20th round of the 2006 MLB draft.

He was named to his first All-Star team three seasons ago after having career highs of 27 home runs, 83 RBI and a .272 batting average.

“Bring him into camp and see what he can do, see what he’s got left,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said, per Chisholm. “More depth, that’s one thing we’ve been concentrated on, adding depth at different positions this year in the organization, and we’ll see how it all works out.”

Chisholm noted Brown could be in play for backup left fielder behind current starter Michael Saunders. Brown has a career fielding percentage of .982 and committed 13 errors as a member of the Philadelphia outfield.

Brown is an athletic outfielder with great speed, and he could revive his career in Toronto. The reigning American League East champions led the majors in runs scored with 891, almost 130 more than the next team, the New York Yankees

Toronto fields a team with the reigning AL MVP, Josh Donaldson, and power hitters Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. Adding a guy with speed like Brown can be a difference-maker for the Blue Jays.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com. Follow Danny Webster on Twitter.  

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MLB Winter Meetings 2013: Analyzing All the Action, Hot Rumors of Day 2

Day two of the winter meeting got off to a bang as the rumored three-team deal between the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels came together rather quickly and was a reality by early afternoon.

With one more day before the focus turns to the Rule 5 draft on Thursday, expect at least a few more big free agent signings and/or trades to happen over the next 24-30 hours or so.

Here’s all the latest from the rumor mill.  

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Philadelphia Phillies: A Closer Look at Domonic Brown’s Numbers Last Year

Much is being made of the Philadelphia Phillies‘ desire to trade left fielder Domonic Brown, as reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan. A line in the sand has been drawn, and there are those who feel as if Brown is the keystone for the Phillies’ future while others are screaming sell, sell, sell!

Independent of where one stands on this issue, the fact remains that Brown burst out of a disappointing start to his career to have a breakout, All-Star season in 2013. In 540 at-bats, Brown smashed 27 home runs and drove in 83 runs.

His dinger tally put him alongside the likes of Mike Trout, Robinson Cano and Justin Upton for 17th most in Major League Baseball. He finished 34th in the big leagues, alongside Victor Martinez, with his 83 RBI. While Brown’s .272 AVG is nothing to write home about, it did place him at second among the Phillies’ qualifying hitters.

On the surface, Brown’s numbers don’t look all that bad. Sure, nearly half (12) of Brown’s HR total came in the month of May and they all landed in right field, but that doesn’t necessarily negate his production for the Phillies.

What does negate his production is when we look at what he did (or didn’t do) beyond the box score.

Among qualifying left fielders, Brown finished 2013 with the third-worst Wins Above Replacement (WAR). His 1.6 WAR ranked ahead of only Eric Young and Chris Carter. It compared to that of Daniel Nava (1.8) and Michael Brantley (1.6).

Brown’s on-base percentage (OBP) ranked 11th among the same group of qualifying left fielders. A walk rate of just 7.2 percent can be attributed to this. Walking in just about seven percent of his at-bats, Brown was slightly better than just four other qualifying left fielders. The worst was Starling Marte who tallied a 4.4 percent walk rate.

To make matters worse, Brown’s Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) was second worst among this group. With a .287 BABIP, Brown finished 32 percentage points less than Chris Denorfia

In terms of Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+), the Phillies’ lefty slugger finished with 123. Since the MLB average is 100, Brown finished slightly above average in this regard but 20 fewer than Matt Holliday and five fewer than Nava. Brown was closer to Marte in this measurement. 

Finally, Brown’s defensive WAR comes in at minus-15.9. Only four other left fielders come in worse, including Upton. However, there is a 26-defensive WAR difference between Brown and Gregor Blanco. Needless to say, Brown has his issues in left field.

The finer details to Brown’s production show us that he compares more favorably to the likes of Nava, Carter, Young and Marte than he does Holliday or Upton.

With such a small sample though, some outliers do emerge. Brown does look more favorably than Alex Gordon is some measurements. He even bests Yoenis Cespedes in others. However, it is his future projections that look more alarming. 

In just his first full season of MLB play, Brown looks to have already reached his ceiling. Projections for Brown’s traditional statistics look weaker than what he accumulated this past season. In addition to his decline, the descent elsewhere is likely the reason for the Phillies shopping him.

The upside to Brown is that he is under team control. This will make a deal for him look more likely but at the same time, the Phillies should not expect a top-of-the-farm pitching prospect in return. Brown’s statistical anomalies should be corrected as he gains more experience as an everyday piece of the lineup, be it in Philadelphia or elsewhere.

No one should fault Ruben Amaro Jr. for trying to sell Brown high. All indications point to Brown hitting his peak in 2013. If this is the case, the descent will be a long one for the 26-year-old. The fact that Brown may not be as good as Chris Young, a comparable player, was in 2007 through 2011 with the Arizona Diamondbacks is a telling sign.

Young has reached the point where he will likely be piggy-backing one-year deals throughout the next couple of years. What will Brown end up accomplishing production-wise? For whichever team he plays moving forward, production similar to Young’s aforementioned four-year span is the most desirable, even if it won’t necessarily be pretty.

The question for those looking at Brown as a possible piece in a trade with the Phillies is: What can Brown do for you?

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MLB All-Star Voting 2013: Elite Stars Who Need a Late Push to Make the Cut

With the American League and National League All-Stars set to be announced on Saturday evening, there is plenty of speculation about who will and won’t make the cut.

While the final voting tallies for starters have remained under wraps, it’s not too difficult to predict who will make the teams through that manner.

Vote totals were released a few days ago, so unless there were some monumental swings in the final days, most of the starting sports have long been determined. When it comes to the reserve spots, however, it is anyone’s guess who will play at Citi Field, as the players and managers are trusted with the responsibility of picking those players.

Here are three elite players who are very much on the All-Star borderline right now and will need a little bit of luck in order to make one of the rosters.


Evan Longoria

Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria is known for getting off to slow starts before turning it on and heating up down the stretch.

That hasn’t been the case this season, though, as he has been excellent from the very start. Longoria has never hit .300 in a season, but he is flirting with that number right now at .295 and also has 17 home runs as well as 49 RBI to boot.

Due to the strength of third base in the AL, however, there is a chance that Longoria will get snubbed.

Along with Longoria, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers, Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles, Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers and Josh Donaldson of the Oakland Athletics are in play. All five men are having spectacular seasons and deserve to make the team, but it’s unlikely that more than three of them will.

MLB Network’s Peter Gammons seems to believe that Donaldson and Beltre will ultimately be the odd men out.

That’s possible, but it’s far from a guarantee. The only certainty is that Cabrera will deservedly get the starting nod, as ESPN.com had him well ahead in the voting on July 1. Longoria was fourth behind Cabrera, Machado and Beltre, so he wouldn’t even make if it was up to the fans entirely.

The final battle could come down to Longoria vs. Donaldson. Even though Longoria is more established, Donaldson may get the nod due to the fact that he has helped carry the A’s.


Domonic Brown

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown has been labeled a can’t-miss prospect for the past several years, but until this season he missed plenty. Brown couldn’t hold down a full-time spot with the Phils, so he was often shuttled between the majors and Triple A.

After a lukewarm start this season, Brown appeared to be in the same position, but he came around in a major way and is suddenly one of the top power threats in baseball.

Brown’s numbers are extremely impressive, as he is hitting .279 with 22 home runs and 60 RBI along with eight steals. Despite that, Brown received absolutely no love from the fans. As of July 1, ESPN.com had him at 15th among NL outfielders, behind the likes of Angel Pagan, Jon Jay and Gregor Blanco.

According to CSN Philly’s Reuben Frank, Brown would love to make the All-Star team, but it isn’t his main focus at the moment.

Even though Brown has been disrespected through the fan vote, he should still be in decent position to make the team. He has been the Phillies’ best hitter by far this season and has surpassed the likes of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins to become the face of the franchise.

The All-Star Game is about showcasing the best talent in baseball, so Brown definitely deserves to be a part of it. If the players and managers neglect to vote him in, he’ll be one of the biggest snubs in recent memory.


Jacoby Ellsbury

Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury‘s career arc has been an interesting one. He came into the league as a pure speed guy and quickly became one of the most exciting players in the game, as he stole 120 bases between the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

After an injury-plagued 2010 season, Ellsbury changed his style of play and became a slugger, clubbing 32 home runs and driving in 105 runs en route to a second-place finish in AL MVP voting in 2011.

Ellsbury once again struggled with injuries last season, but he has returned to his roots this year. Ellsbury has just two homers and 30 RBI, but he is hitting .302 with 54 runs and 34 stolen bases to lead the entire league.

Ellsbury also plays Gold Glove-caliber defense, which is no small feat at Fenway Park. He didn’t get much love in the voting as of Monday, however, as he was just eighth among American League outfielders.

There are a lot of good outfielders in the AL, so Ellsbury will have a battle on his hands. The likes of Los Angeles Angel Mike Trout, Baltimore Oriole Adam Jones and Toronto Blue Jay Jose Bautista were first, second and third in the voting, respectively, and their numbers are certainly good enough to warrant playing in the All-Star Game.

Ellsbury brings a different dimension to the Red Sox and would bring a different dimension to the AL All-Star team as well, so look for him to make it by hook or by crook.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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Domonic Brown Becomes Philadelphia’s Best Hitter with a New Swing

Big Brown—one of Ryan Howard‘s many nicknames—was bestowed upon the first baseman during his reign as the Philadelphia Phillies‘ best power hitter.  Now a changing of the guard is in order. Big Brown Part Deux: The Real Big Brown is already underway.

Not too long ago, Domonic Brown appeared to be a bust. Despite being named the fourth-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America after the 2010 season, Brown scuttled early on.

Not to mention that the DL seemed to call to Brown like a siren. First he suffered a hamate bone fracture in 2011 that required surgery. Then it was a slew of nagging muscle issues in 2012.

In the first three years of his career, Brown hit a mediocre .230/.302/.381. In his 433 at-bats, he hit 12 homers. That’s one homer per 36.1 at-bats. Now I’d say he’s just a tad better. Brown is currently batting .272/.306/.549 with 15 bombs. In 195 at-bats. Overall, that’s a homer per 13 at-bats. In the month of May, that number drops to a home run per nine at-bats.

I’ll do my due diligence and note that Brown’s OBP is still pretty bad. And there’s a clear reason for this. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb, Brown walked exactly zero times in May. Before last night’s game, MLB Stat of the Day tweeted that Brown could go into the record books (which he did):

However, considering the Phillies Paradox (the team has one of the most anemic offenses in baseball despite playing in a hitter’s haven), this is a tradeoff the team is willing to take.

On Wednesday night—the day after he was named National League Player of the Week—Brown hit two jacks to lead the Phillies over the Boston Red Sox, 4-3. Gelb tweeted this during the game:

But Brown’s May heroics didn’t stop there. Last night, he raised his home run total in the month to 12 with another pair of bombs against the Milwaukee Brewers. That’s seven in seven days. Brown now has 15 dingers, which leads the NL.

Brown’s improvement may be due to a number of things. Maturation and playing everyday are certainly valid possibilities. In this case, however, something quite tangible is the culprit: his swing.

In an interview with Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly, Brown noted that he is cognizant of the fact that his recent success is due to the changes he’s made at the plate. 

“I think I just had a longer swing, now that I’m looking back on it,” Brown said. “I did a lot to my swing to shorten it up, especially in those good hitter’s counts, just being able to be short and quick to the ball.

The differences are slight but significant. Here is Brown flailing at a high fastball during spring training in 2012:

Now look at the much-improved Brown hit a game-tying single against the Arizona Diamondbacks just a couple of weeks ago:

Brown’s quick hands are a by-product of his new approach. In this instance, they enabled him to fight off a tough pitch and knock it in the gap between shortstop and third base. Brown’s 2012 swing would’ve likely had him undercutting this pitch, resulting in one of those big whiffs Philadelphia has learned to endure.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News’ Ryan Lawrence, Chase Utley—who champions the short swing—noted that he has picked up on Brown’s shift.

“It’s noticeable. I think he’s in more control than he has been in the past. He’s made some adjustments in his stance, where his hands are, and that’s probably allowed him to be a little quicker to the baseball, shorter to the baseball.”

So we know Brown can perform when it counts. He has the ever-coveted intangibles. But he also measures up when it comes to good old statistics. Out of the Phillies with 50 or more at-bats (and this is being quite generous), Brown leads the team (or is tied for the lead) in six offensive categories: batting average (.272, tied with Utley), runs (25 to the second-most 21), home runs (15 to the second-most seven), RBI (36 to the second-most 26), slugging percentage (.549 to the second-highest .475), and OPS (.855 to the second-highest .814). And four of these said “second” spots are held by none other than the DL King himself, Mr. Utley. So if we had been going by active players here, Brown’s stats would’ve distanced himself even further from the pack.

Just for kicks, Brown is also only a smidge behind the team leaders in hits and doubles.

Other vast improvements for Brown are his splits. As is typically the case with lefties, Brown struggled mightily against lefty arms early in his career. Before this season, Brown was batting .184 against lefties and .244 against righties. Reminiscent of Howard’s early numbers (Big Brown numero uno was .179 against lefties and .329 against righties in his first three years). In 2013—and this is not a typo—Brown is hitting .326 against lefties and .255 against righties. His improved swing working in tandem with improved vision show to be a lethal combination.


*All statistics are accurate as of May 31.

**All statistics are from espn.com, Baseball-Reference.com, and MLB.com

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Domonic Brown’s Fast Start Could Help Him Earn Starting Job with Phillies Soon

Remember last month when the possibility existed that the Philadelphia Phillies could use a double-platoon for their corner outfield spots, rather than naming a starter at each position heading into spring training?

Although the eventual signing of Delmon Young made it appear as if the Phillies had their candidate for an everyday right fielder, left field was still a mystery.  And following news from Jim Salisbury on CSNPhilly.com that Young could not only miss Opening Day, but also much of April, it appeared as if both corner outfield spots were back up for grabs.

That is, unless Domonic Brown continues with his strong early showing.

The Phillies have only played four spring training games, but manager Charlie Manuel recently spoke on the outfield situation in an article by David Murphy on Philly.com, and made sure he mentioned Brown’s name when it came to which players could claim spots early.

We’ve got 10 outfielders, and somewhere along the line, probably about two-thirds of the way through spring training, we’re going to have to make decisions on at least four of them, Manuel said.  We’re going to try to get them all some playing time where we can see them enough.  If somebody jumps out and really gets going, like Brown right now, the last three days he’s really swung good.  He’s played good in the outfield, things like that.  We could settle on a guy or something.


Again, it’s still very early in camp.  But another week of strong performances, similar to the one he had today, could allow Brown to see his name officially penciled into a starting corner outfield spot.

Brown hit his second home run in four spring training games against the New York Yankees today, and now has three hits in seven at-bats this spring. 

Manuel is not the only member of the Phillies who has been encouraged by Brown so far.  In another article by David Murphy on Philly.com, it is noted that both Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard believe in Brown’s ability this season, and may already think it’s time to give him an everyday starting job.

Brown may not have many opportunities left with the Phillies.  In 147 career games over the last three seasons, Brown has a career average of .236 to go with 12 home runs and 58 RBI.  However, his two home runs already this spring are nearly half his total from a year ago in the major leagues.

With Ben Revere already locked into the starting center field job and John Mayberry, Jr. and Laynce Nix serving as better options off the bench rather than starters, Brown and Darin Ruf give the Phillies two young players with the potential to win starting outfield jobs. 

Once Young returns, both players could also be candidates for being sent down to the minor leagues depending on how they have performed up until that point. 

Throw in Rule 5 draft pick Ender Inciarte, and the Phillies have an even more interesting situation in their outfield.

However, this situation could also mean that the team is hoping at least one player will step up early and earn a starting job, regardless of whether Young is on the roster.

Following his monster home run today, Brown has certainly gotten off to the type of start that the team was hoping for early.  

If Brown is able to keep this fast start going, he could soon earn a starting job for Opening Day, something he has never received.

Since debuting in 2010, Brown has experienced two vastly different situations with the Phillies.  In 2011, Brown had an opportunity to remain as the Phils‘ everyday right fielder, before a .165 batting average in June led to the Phillies acquiring Hunter Pence a month later.  Last season, Brown was not called-up until Pence was traded to the San Francisco Giants in late July.  Following his promotion, Brown batted .235 while playing in an outfield that looked much different after the trade deadline.

In 2011, Brown played on a Phillies team that was on pace to win a franchise record number of games, and win the National League East by 13 games.  Last season he played on a Phillies team that finished 17 games back of first place. 

Playing in these situations allowed Brown to play on a team with little pressure on it during the regular season due to a strong lead in the standings, and on a team that, except for a late season charge at the second wild card spot, was hardly in playoff contention.  Two very different situations, yet two situations that were not as high pressured as some the Phillies have seen in recent seasons. 

However, despite the lack of pressure, Brown was unable to earn and maintain an everyday starter’s job in the outfield.

This year, with an open competition for the corner outfield spots, Brown has a third chance to claim a starting outfield job.

Although the returns are still very early, it appears as if the third time might be the charm.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Delmon Young Signing Shows Phils’ Fear of Closing Window

Delmon Young has been a Phillie for a very short time, and per Ruben Amaro Jr., already Young is being penned in as the Phillies‘ starting right fielder in 2013 (h/t hardballtalk.nbcsports.com).

Young hit .267 with 18 home runs and 74 runs batted in for the Detroit Tigers in 2012. Young is a right-handed hitter, he is only 27 years old and he’s coming off ankle surgery.

For all of those reasons, and because Young is kind of a jerk, a guy who once drove in 112 runs in a single season and was the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player in 2012 took the Phillies’ low-ball offer of one year with a $750,000.00 base salary.

Incentives could push the deal’s value to $3.5 million, per mlb.com.

For weeks, Phillies fans were hearing that the Phillies were interested in signing right-handed outfielder Cody Ross, who instead went to the Arizona Diamondbacks for three years and $26 million.

Ross’ 2012 slash line of .267/22/81 is not much different from Young’s 2012 slash line of .267/18/74. And Ross is four years older. Is Ross really $25 million better than Young at this stage of their careers?

The clear and fair knock on Young is that he supposedly cannot play right field (or perhaps any position) adequately, and thus he is best suited for the American League.

But the 2008 Phillies won the World Series with a decomposing Pat Burrell chipping home runs into the short porch in left field. The 1993 Phillies won a pennant with Pete Incaviglia and Wes Chamberlain staggering around the AstroTurf at Veterans Stadium. None of them were ever confused with Garry Maddox in the outfield.

It didn’t matter, because they all hit.

Above all else, though, Young’s addition to the roster tells you that Amaro has seen all he needs to see out of John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown—and not enough from Darin Ruf.

Amaro Jr. has concluded that none of them can hit in the middle of the lineup for a Phillies team that is trying to make one last playoff push with the core of the teams that won the National League East in 2008 and 2009.

Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels have been with the Phillies through mostly thick and not much thin. But last season’s 81-81 season, marred by extended absences from Howard and Utley, could be seen as either a temporary setback or the beginning of a trend.

Amaro has seven players on the 2013 roster guaranteed to each make eight figures’ worth of the Phillies’ money in 2013 (Roy Halladay, Hamels, Howard, Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, Rollins, Utley.) Michael Young is also going to make $16 million in 2013, but $10 million of that is coming from the Texas Rangers.

Every one of those players but Hamels is over 30 years of age.

If the 2013 team does not make the playoffs, significant changes are likely in the very near future. For that matter, if the team falls out of the 2013 race early, the likes of Halladay, Utley and Young (all of whom have contracts that will end after 2013) could be dealt to contenders.

And that means this is no time to be relying on “maybes” and “could-bes” in the outfield.

John Mayberry Jr. is 29 years old. He is a lifetime .254 hitter with a career on-base percentage of .313.

Domonic Brown is still a young player at 25 years of age. But his numbers are worse than Mayberry Jr.’s (.236 lifetime average, .315 career on-base percentage) and he is another left-handed hitter in a lineup loaded with them.

If either Mayberry Jr. or Brown had “it,” it stands to reason the Phillies would have seen it by now.

Fans clamor for 2012 minor league sensation Darin Ruf, who was his league’s Most Valuable Player at Double-A Reading in the Eastern League.

Ruf had a nice stint with the Phillies in September last year. But that is all it was: 12 games and 37 at-bats on a team playing out the string of a dead season.

To project Ruf as a No. 5 hitter on a team with a win-now-or-else imperative based on 37 at-bats would leap over “optimistic” and land on “foolish.”

Maybe Ruf can be a productive major league hitter, maybe he can’t. If Ruf was starting the season in Miami, or even with the New York Mets, plugging him into the starting lineup from the jump would make a ton of sense.

Not in Philadelphia, though. Not in 2013. Not with a team whose shelf life gets shorter with each passing day.

So the Phillies spent on Delmon Young’s 2013 season approximately what a single Cole Hamels start will cost in 2013. For that money, they secured a right-handed power bat who is not a “maybe” or a “could be.”

Young is a proven right-handed hitter at the major league level.

The Phillies could not afford to go into 2013 without one of them.

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MLB Rumors: Should the New York Yankees Look to Swing a Deal for Domonic Brown?

The Philadelphia Phillies have signed right-handed hitting outfielder Delmon Young to a one-year deal worth $750,000, and Buster Olney opines that this could leave left-handed outfielder Domonic Brown out of the loop in Philly.

While the New York Yankees are not currently in the market for a left-handed outfielder, they ARE in the market for some young talent.

Brown was once the top prospect in the Phillies organization. Many compared him to a more athletic Ryan Howard, and he was thought to have all the tools to succeed at the big league level.

He’s yet to reach his full potential in parts of three seasons in the majors.

In 147 career games, he has just 12 home runs and 58 RBI with a line of .236/.315/.396. He has recorded 102 hits and 24 doubles.

He has played pretty well in the outfield, however. Brown has always possessed a strong arm, leading to seven outfield assists in just 101 chances last season.

For 2013, the Yankees outfield projects to be set. Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki will man the three positions.

With all three being left-handed, the Yankees were in the market for a right-handed hitting fourth outfielder. Scott Hairston is still available, but it’s unknown as to whether or not he’ll end up in pinstripes.

The Yankees continue to get older, and really don’t have much young talent to rely on moving forward. While Brown hasn’t exactly been the most productive player in the bigs the past three seasons, he still has the potential to become a very good player.

If he’s indeed on the outs in Philadelphia—something that’s still unknown—the Yankees should look to swoop in and pick him up cheaply.

It wouldn’t require much to get him. A one-for-one swap of pitching prospect Adam Warren for Brown would make sense, as would a one-for-one of second base/third base prospect David Adams for Brown.

Or the Yankees could even deal Joba Chamberlain for the outfielder.

Whatever deal is agreed upon, it would be a low-risk, high-reward move for general manager Brian Cashman.

Brown has the tools to be a 30-home run threat with a very respectable batting average, while playing a strong right field.

At worst, Brown doesn’t pan out and the Yankees didn’t really waste much in the trade.

This is all speculation at this point, but it’s also something that Cashman should look into if Brown is indeed made available. What’s the worst that could happen in acquiring a bat with 30-plus home run potential?

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Philadelphia Phillies: ‘Ruffing’ It in Left Field?

The Philadelphia Phillies have several holes that they needed to fill in the 2012 offseason. This is partially due to the subpar performance of the 2012 where they decided to trade away two outfielders and a starting pitcher. Those players are Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, and Joe Blanton, respectively.

Since the offseason has started, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has sought to fill those holes along with the hole at the back end of the inconsistent bullpen.

So far, Amaro has filled three of those holes: first by trading for Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins to play centerfield and then for Michael Young from the Texas Rangers to third base, as that was a position of inconsistent performance in 2012 as well and one that saw eight different players cover during throughout the year. Last week, Amaro also filled the bullpen hole by signing free agent Mike Adams.

Amaro has been looking for a corner outfielder that can provide consistent offense and play strong defense. The free agent market has been unflattering, except Josh Hamilton who has already signed with the Los Angeles Angels. The price of any outfielder seems higher than Amaro wants to pay and probably higher than those players would receive if there were better talent on the market.

With the free agent market drying up and trade agents seemingly shutting down, Amaro has looked at internal options for the outfield.

Three options that he has are the frustratingly inconsistent Domonic Brown, who has yet to live up to the potential stamped on him when he was regarded as a top prospect, John Mayberry Jr. who has also been inconsistent, but shown flashes of how well he can play given an everyday starter job (see more in a forthcoming story) and Darin Ruf, who seemed to come out of nowhere after blowing up in AA Reading this past season.

The general consensus is that Ruf will have a fair shot at earning an everyday or platoon spot on the Phillies roster in left field. People have compared him to Pat Burrell in his prime.  The 26-year-old has a lot of pop from the right side of the plate, which was one major vacancy in the Phillies roster all of last year with the exception of Carlos Ruiz. Now, Ruf has an extremely limited amount of major league experience, but all signs point to the fact that he can contribute on a daily basis.

No matter where he played in 2012, all he did was drive in runs.  In AA Reading he hit 38 home runs and drove in 104 runs.  When he finally got a chance to play in nine Phillies games last year, he managed to hit three home runs and drive in 10 runs.  He then played in the Venezuelan Winter League where he broke the record for home runs with 10 and drove in 27 runs. Through all the leagues he played in, he has averaged at least one hit per game.

Overall, in the minors this year, across 489 at bats, Ruf hit for .317 average, with a .620 slugging percentage, and a 1.028 OPS.  In those at bats, he hit 38 home runs, 32 doubles, and had 104 RBIs.  He also had a 120:65 strikeout to walk ratio.  When he made his debut in the majors, he continued with his natural slugging ability by hitting for a .333 average, with 3 home runs, 2 doubles and 10 RBIs across 33 at bats.  Then in Winter League he hit for an average of .258 with 10 home runs, 27 RBIs, and 8 doubles across 120 at bats in 33 games.

He is also a substantial defender at left field or first base.  He is not going to be the best defender in the game, but he brings an above average ability to play his zone and brings a great deal to the plate overall.  So, regardless of the fact that he is a first baseman and not a true outfielder, would the Phillies be risking it by “Ruffing it in left field,” or would he be the answer for power that was missing from the right side of the plate and left field in all of 2012?

He is an average defender, but he has been hitting the ball like an all-star all season. If he can perform like he has shown he can, the Phillies are much better with him in left field than any option they would find on the market. For example, he drove in the last eight runs against the Nationals that the Phillies had in 2012 across four games. Ruf has shown enough to be the Phillies left fielder for 2013.

The question for left field has been answered. The only question should be is what will be done in right field.

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Why the Philadelphia Phillies Should Not Pursue Alfonso Soriano

The Philadelphia Phillies still need a corner outfielder and Alfonso Soriano is not the answer.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports reported the Phillies have potentially discussed a deal with the Chicago Cubs sending Soriano to Philly in return for youngster Domonic Brown.

While the Phillies do need some right-handed pop in their lineup, this would be a step in the wrong direction.

The club recently traded for another aging veteran, Michael Young, who will serve as the Phillies’ everyday third baseman. In that case, shipping out youth for experience made sense. Young struggled last season, but he is an instant upgrade for the Phillies. The free agent market was limited at third and high-profile trades were nearly impossible to execute. Essentially, Young will serve as a stop-gap for prospect Cody Asche.

But the Phillies need to get younger and trading for Soriano is not the way to do that.

Now Soriano was productive last season and still might have some gas left in his tank, but trading away potential years of service out of Domonic Brown is not a wise investment. Even if the Cubs eat most of his salary, the Phils need to run from this deal.

Yes, Brown is unproven and fans are tired of waiting for him to live up to his potential, but trading him for another right-handed power hitter with league-leading strike out potential would be a mistake. The Phillies should give Brown a shot, or keep him and sign Cody Ross, Nick Swisher or Josh Hamilton.  Then let Brown and Darin Ruf battle for the remaining starting spot.

Soriano is also injury-prone and if the Phillies lose him during the season—the club will have no legitimate reserve player for the position. Jon Mayberry Jr. will have to fill the void, and not many want this scenario.

The Phillies have made some exciting moves this offseason, bringing in both youth and experience, but the club’s next moves must be smart and accurate. The team does not have to settle for its current needs, but concentrate on promising players for years to come with low risk.

Soriano’s enjoyed a very nice Major League career but it should not continue in Philadelphia.

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