Leave Dom Brown Alone!

Outfielder Raul Ibanez is still hurting, so says Ryan Lawrence of the Delco Times:

Ibanez’s elbow now has athletic wrap, not ice like yesterday. Also wearing batting gloves & carrying bat, so he can at least swing today.

That news got Dash Treyhorn of The Fightins wondering if that was a  “Harbinger of the Dom Brown era?”

The Atlanta Braves recently promoted phenom outfielder Jason Heyward to their Major League club and he will be in Atlanta on Opening Day against the Chicago Cubs. If the prospect is good enough and there is a vacant spot, it is certainly not unprecedented that a team will take the risk with the young player. Would the Phillies make the move?

I am highly skeptical. Why?

Heading north with Domonic Brown would start his arbitration clock.

A player is eligible for arbitration if he has been on a Major League roster or disabled list for three years. For instance, this off-season, the Phillies had serveral arbitration cases to deal with:

*Note: Service time is written as Years.Days. In the example below, Joe Blanton is listed at 5.016. That means he has five full seasons of MLB service and 16 days.

  • Joe Blanton: Third year, 5.016 years of playing time
  • Chad Durbin: Second year, 5.102
  • Shane Victorino: Second year, 4.092
  • Carlos Ruiz: First year, 3.069

The Phillies will start Dom Brown’s arbitration clock if he is added to the roster. Furthermore, he may be able to qualify as a “Super Two” once he accrues two years of playing time and:

  • Played in the majors for at least 86 days in the previous season
  • Is among the top 17 percent for cumulative playing time in the majors among others with at least 2 years, but less than 3 years experience

That means that Brown will have four, instead of three, years of arbitration eligibility before he becomes a free agent. In other words, the Phillies will have to pay him more money sooner. The mindset of Major League general managers on paying their young players is best summed up by J. Wellington Wimpy who said, “I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

With Jayson Werth most likely heading into free agency, the Phillies would have to keep Brown in right field next year, ensuring that he would rack up the necessary amount of playing time. Furthermore, the Phillies do have outfield depth. If Ibanez is sidelined, he can be replaced by Ben Francisco on an everyday basis, and by Ross Gload, Greg Dobbs, and John Mayberry on a spot-starting basis.

Ruben Amaro knows the Phillies are going to be one of the best teams in baseball with or without Brown, so why start his arbitration clock unnecessarily early? The Phillies could wait two months and call him up in early or mid-June — if they still need him — which would make it highly unlikely that he would qualify for Super Two status.

Lawrence’s tweet leads one to believe that Ibanez should be ready to go by Opening Day, so there is no reason to fret. This is, though, a good thought exercise and one that the Phillies’ brass no doubt has had ad nauseam. It is simply smart business to keep Brown in the Minor Leagues for at least two more months, if not longer. Many fans cringe when they hear about ownership doing what’s “best for business” but those types of decisions were what brought a championship parade to Philadelphia in 2008. Sometimes, the best decisions benefit both the owners and the team and this is one of those cases.