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Saturday, June 01, 2013

Domonic Brown Shows Why Phillies Kept Him

Around 2007, the Phillies were onto something.  The Bank was abuzz.  Younger players not yet on big contracts played with a huge verve.  Prospects were coming through the system.  The team needed a few more pieces to become elite.

So they traded prospects. . . for Joe Blanton, for Cliff Lee, for Roy Halladay, for Hunter Pence, among others.

They traded guys like Kyle Drabek, Adrian Cardenas, Josh Outman (great name for a pitcher), Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Michael Taylor.  They also traded Gio Gonzalez, Travis D'Arnaud, Jonathan Singleton and Anthony Gose.  There is good news and bad news in this.

The good news is that so far they haven't made a trade along the lines (if you're very old) of Lou Brock (a future Hall of Famer) for Ernie Broglio, (if you're middle-aged) Larry Bowa AND Ryne Sandberg (a future Hall of Famer) for Ivan DeJesus, (if you're somewhat younger) Jeff Bagwell (a possible Hall of Famer) AND two others for Larry Andersen and John Smoltz (a future Hall of Famer) for Doyle Alexander (who admittedly pitched great for the Tigers in a pennant race after the trade).

The other good news, believe it or not, is that they did trade some good prospects.  The reason is. . . if you only trade people who don't turn out, the other teams will get a sense of your GM and be unwilling to trade, precisely because, well, trades are supposed to work out for both teams.  So, while the Phillies got stars in trades, they also gave up some guys who could pan out -- D'Arnaud (a very promising catcher), Singleton (a very promising first baseman) and Gose (who, somehow, if he can put all his tools together, could be special).  That also shows that the Phillies' brass's ability to evaluate and draft talent isn't awful, even if they haven't elevated a star position player except Brown since Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley came up.

The bad news is that some of the prospects I just discussed could be very special, and, if that's the case (and the odds are that all will not), then they've misjudged their talent and erred badly.  So, that's not really bad news, just potential bad news.

But remember when they made the trades for Halladay and Lee?  Drabek was supposed to be another Halladay, Taylor a right-handed version of Dave Parker (for those who remember), Marson a potential All-Star and Donald a player along the lines of Sandberg and Utley.  The Phillies and their fans agonized over the price that those trades required, but it turns out the Phillies made good trades.  It's just that they didn't win a second World Series.  Halladay pitched great before he got hurt, including a perfect game and then a no-hitter in a playoff game.  Lee has had mixed success, but will be remembered for his failure to hold a 4-0 lead in game 2 of the NLDS after one inning (with the Phillies up 1-0 in games).  Had Lee been able to hold that lead, it stood to reason that the Phillies would have won the NLDS and perhaps gone on to win another World Series.  Then again, who really knows?

So, amidst a continued decline of aging stars, Brown is emerging as the star the team thought he would be.  He's on pace to hit 40+ home runs, and be an anchor in a lineup that desperately needs one.  While the Phillies are 26-29, they are this way without many stars.  If somehow the stars can get healthy for a last hurrah (save Halladay, who seems done for the year), then perhaps they can grab the last wild-card spot.  That seems unlikely, but at least Brown will give the fans some hope for the future.


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