Dom Brown or Greg Dobbs?

Via Todd Zolecki on Twitter, the Phillies were deciding between Domonic Brown and Greg Dobbs for the final spot on the NLCS roster:

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.

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10 comments

  1. Sanj

    October 15, 2010 05:21 PM

    It’s more important to have that home run power off the bench than to have an extra infielder just in case two infielders go down. I guarantee you this is what Manuel was thinking, he pretty much said as much before the previous series.

  2. Steve

    October 15, 2010 07:55 PM

    Interesting that our #1 prospect and next year starting right fielder barely makes the roster. Sign Werth.

  3. Jim

    October 16, 2010 12:17 AM

    One left-handed bat against SF’s more righty-centric bullpen isn’t gonna be enough in a series that is expected to be low-scoring and close, unless you’re gonna start counting Schneider as your other lefty bat. Bringing in Kendrick and Brown into the NLCS screams Manuel expecting the games to be really close, and I don’t blame him.

  4. Dan

    October 16, 2010 02:14 AM

    @Steve,

    First of all, he isn’t guaranteed a starting job next year. Second of all, do you think the Braves would have brought Heyward to the postseason (had they made it) last year? He’s inexperienced and hasn’t had much playing time in the past couple of months. He’s going to be rusty. The fact that he DID make it says just how much the organization thinks of him (this kid had the possibility to win a WS ring before his rookie year, that’s gotta be pretty rare). And as per signing Werth, I agree, do it… you provide the money, and I’m sure they’d be happy to.

  5. Scott G

    October 16, 2010 05:28 AM

    Dan,

    The way you’re looking at it is one perspective. The other is that he’s the best option they have at this time, which isn’t a good sign. He certainly hasn’t played great since his call-up (not to say he won’t in the future). I mean it’s either a player like Brown, or Dobbs (!!), someone like Bocock, or Mayberry.

    Also

    Before the season anyway, Baseball Prospectus had a different outlook on the Phillies signing Werth. They looked at it as the Phillies have put the money out to be competitive for a few more years. They seem to think the Phillies FO would make more money by keeping Werth (all but assuring they would be competitive).

  6. Steve

    October 16, 2010 05:48 AM

    @Dan,

    We’re all paying for it by selling out CBP every game of the year and buying merchandise for the team we love. I agree with Scott G, it will be a terrible waste if the FO has gone to such great lengths to build a contender with great pitching, only to become the San Diego Padres and play a lot of 2-1 ballgames, half of which they lose. I don’t mind low scoring games, but I don’t want to see this team lose their greatest offensive threat, because they can’t figure a way to work it out given the revenues they have. That’s why the FO gets paid the big bucks. We saw a sample of what it looks like to be anemic on offense this past summer, and it wasn’t pretty.

  7. Phil

    October 16, 2010 07:55 AM

    Steve,

    We’re not losing Utley, so no, I doubt we’re losing our greatest offensive threat.

    Anyways, you can overpay Werth whose only going to get slower over the course of his next contract OR you can put a young high-ceiling talent whose done his time in the minor leagues and is cost-controlled for the near future in. I don’t want to see Werth go, but at a certain point, the paths must diverge.

  8. Dan

    October 16, 2010 09:14 AM

    Agreed on the Utley point. Werth is a great player, no doubt. But Utley is, as Harry Kalas (RIP) would put it, “the man.”

    And if the FO can sign Werth for a few more years, I’m all for it. Let Dom get some more work in down in the minors for a year, then let him take over for Raul in 2012. However, I’m doubtful the Phillies will be willing to spend what Werth is going to want. And do we want him for 5+ more years? Because, yes, he is going to slow down in production. Probably more significantly than the rest of our core players (aside from Rollins and maybe Vic). The FO already made a mistake with a big contract in Howard’s. They’re probably going to be a little more careful with handing out the big bucks now.

    On a related, but completely hypothetical, note what if the Phillies shocked everyone and signed Crawford in the offseason? That would be crazy. Imagine that for an outfield; Dom, Vic, and Crawford. Who would be in centerfield?

    Although what we should really be worrying about is finding some bullpen strength and looking around for Rollins’ heir.

  9. Scott G

    October 16, 2010 08:45 PM

    First of all, put Dom Brown in left, and trade ibanez for next season. Keep Werth and Brown.

    2nd – Manuel needs to get a friggin’ clue. He cannot continue to bat Jimmy Rollins 6th. He also needs to utilize a take sign. Lincecum has been all over the place and we have Polanco and Rollins swinging before there are strikes on them. AWFUL.

    It’s about time for an automated strike zone. Umpires are employed to be an unbiased arbiter of the game. THERE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE A HUMAN ELEMENT FROM THE UMPIRES. Objective rules should not be judgments. The players are supposed to decide the game, and they’re the only ones who are supposed to have a role in the outcome.

    The score has just been made 4-3 on Werth’s homer, but as far as anyone should be concerned the score should be 3-2 good guys.

  10. Jim

    October 16, 2010 11:59 PM

    @Dan,

    Seriously, if we lose Werth, we’ll become the Padres? A little exaggeration never hurts anyone, but that’s beyond exaggeration, that’s mis-characterization. Phillies would have to lose another 4 or 5 productive bats before turning into the Padres.

    We’re talking about the SECOND lefty bat on the BENCH!!! And now we are discussing how it’s not a good sign that we have to bring Brown into the NLCS? Just exactly how far have our expectations gone, when it seems like we’re expecting an All-Star bat on the bench!!! Let’s put this into perspective: Giants had to decide between Guillen or Rowand, and between Sandoval and Fontenot. Braves had to actually PLAY Conrad. But oh no, the Phillies have to bring Brown in as a second lefty bat, we’re in big trouble… I think we’ve all just collectively lost our objectivity.

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