NLCS roster undecided. Likely down to Dobbs/Brown. Dobbs can play INF. Brown has speed/bat. Health concerns 4 Polly/JRoll might help Dobbs.
Matt Gelb tweeted that the Phillies gave the rose to Brown.
It’s not a terribly important decision as neither is likely to see much playing time all things being equal. The debate comes down to security against convenience. Are the Phillies willing to gamble on the health and effectiveness of Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins by not carrying an extra infielder in Dobbs? Or would the Phillies rather forgo Brown’s better offensive output (despite what his 70 MLB plate appearances say) by bringing Dobbs as a security blanket?
The Phillies already have a left-handed pinch-hitter in Ross Gload, so the odds of seeing Brown in a regulation game are already lowered, barring an injury to one of the relatively healthy outfielders. Defensively, Brown is behind Ben Francisco on the depth chart.
If one of Rollins and Polanco is too hurt to play, the Phillies will go with Wilson Valdez as a replacement. If both are hurt, then both Valdez and Dobbs are in the lineup. It’s not likely to happen but the probability is nonzero, given how gingerly Rollins ran the bases in the NLDS and Polanco’s staggering ineffectiveness since August. After Valdez, the Phillies would have no one qualified to play third base.
As the Phillies showed in the middle of the season, they can win games without half of their starting infield. You can’t just throw your hands up and say, “Well, if Rollins and Polanco are out, then the Phillies lose anyway.” Should that happen, the Phillies would have to get creative. Mike Sweeney at third? Carlos Ruiz? He did play one inning at third base on August 26, 2008. Dobbs, as bad as he is defensively (career -4.7 UZR/150), would be much better at third base than any emergency substitute.
Playing third base may look easy, especially having watched Polanco all year, but there are a lot of little things that players pick up with experience: footwork, throwing, decision-making, etc. If Andres Torres drops a bunt down the third base line, you’d rather have a somewhat experienced third baseman making the bare-handed throw to first base. Same deal if the bases are loaded with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Remember that double play that Troy Glaus turned for the Atlanta Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS? That decision — to attempt the double play rather than go home — comes from experience playing the position.
Ultimately, the decision probably won’t matter. But if the decision were mine — and perhaps it’s a good thing it wasn’t — I’d have hedged my bets and gone with Dobbs over Brown.