The Lost Art of Patience

To read a similar take on Dom Brown with an eye to the future, check out Bill’s article on ESPN Sweet Spot.

I’ve finally had enough.

I took it rather well for a few days, this incessant whisper from a fraction of the fanbase that Domonic Brown is not just trade bait, but should be dealt. The reasoning seems varied, but it seems to boil down to the notion that Domonic Brown is not now – nor will he ever be – better than Hunter Pence, and, as such, the two should be swapped.

It seems that, if one area of this very good Phillies club should be upgraded, it’s the offense. With Carlos Beltran off the market as a new member of the San Francisco Giants, the best possible upgrade is no longer available. Enter Pence, whose skillset and rumored availability put him squarely in the second tier of available outfield bats. Pence is enjoying a productive season, hitting .307/.354/.467 with 11 HR in 426 plate appearances entering Thursday. Pros and cons of his ability and season stats abound, but this post is not about Pence.

No, this post is about the perception of Brown. Brown, a man who entered his first Major League game to a standing ovation and entered the 2011 season as a near-consensus top five prospect in all of Minor League baseball, now finds himself rumored to be on the trading block. None of us knows for sure if he’s really being dangled, thanks to the airtight nature of the Phillies’ front office, but the very thought of giving up so soon being embraced so easily by some fans discourages me.

Dom Brown, he of the 23 years and 328 days of age, is not Jason Heyward. He has not emerged as a regular starter and set the world on fire. What he has done, though, is accomplish far more than perception seems to be giving him credit for.

  • .251/.343/.406 season slash. The AVG is 5th among NL rookies, the OBP is 3rd and the SLG is 4th.
  • 5 HR in 201 PA. Not great, but when you consider Brown’s hamate injury in the spring and the fact that Pence has 11 HR in 426 PA, it doesn’t seem so bad.
  • Be team-controlled. This isn’t so much an accomplishment as it is a characteristic. Brown will not qualify as a Super Two after the 2012 season, so his arbitration years won’t start until after 2013. He will make in the neighborhood of $450k in the meantime.

That last point stick as the most salient, to me. Across last year and this one, Brown has played just 87 games – little more than half of one season – and his production is on par with what Raul Ibanez has done in twice the playing time. Since that’s not so flattering these days, I’ll say instead that Brown’s .749 OPS ranks 4th among Phillies regulars (behind Victorino, Utley and Howard) and 5th overall (also trails Mayberry). His walk rate is the highest on the team, and he has nearly as many walks as he does strikeouts.

All of this, and he’s cheap for two more full seasons. Cheap, on a team with the following players entering arbitration or hitting free agency between now and the winter of 2012: Roy Oswalt, Jimmy Rollins, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and Cole Hamels. Some of the players named are just money off the books, but they’ll need replacing. Is it that much of an upgrade to add Hunter Pence for two seasons – likely at upward of $20 million combined in that time – than have Brown for five more? Sure, this team has a “window,” but it sure isn’t closing when this season is over. Is it worth tying up that much money in a good-not-great player when better-to-star caliber players will need replacing or new contracts?

Better yet, why are some so quick to give up on Brown as a lost cause? If anything, Philadelphia should be somewhat accustomed to slow starts. Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and even Mike Schmidt started their Philly careers without blowing everybody away, yet with patience, coaching and experience, they are turned into excellent players. Brown has the potential to be the next Philly star, better than the guy he’s rumored to possibly be traded for. If only we’re given the chance to see it happen.

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  1. Css228

    July 29, 2011 12:57 PM

    Phillie697 – I see Brown as too athletic to play terrible defense. The kid’s got good range and is really just making rookie mistakes out there. The mistake he made Wednesday he overran the ball. It happens.
    To Everyone – I do think (granted its a small sample size) that Brown is trying too hard to impress the home crowd and its causing him not to play as well at home. I’m not going to draw any decisive conclusions about it, but it might be an issue to look out for. His batting splits are .219/.309/.406 at home while he’s .280/.372/.390. His OPS is almost 50 points higher on the road. I’ll admit it could be something else as well. Brown’s BABIP is about .80 points higher on the road. I just think that the common factor between the struggles at the plate and the fielding miscues is that they continually seem to happen in front of the home fans. Maybe its just selection bias at my part. But at the same time, he might just be pressing like any rookie expected to be an instant savior on a World Series contender might. Just realize that Brown is .2 WAR replacement right now. Ibanez is -1.2. Francisco is -.1. The only in house corner outfielder option with more WAR than Brown is Mayberry at 1.1. He’s earned the right to play everyday at this point and see if he can’t get in a rhythm. Its not fair to expect Brown to be Jason Heyward. Heck, Heyward isn’t Heyward this year. IF we can get Pence cheaply fine. Let’s not lose our minds over normal rookie struggles and overpay for Pence. If we have to, we might as well run a Mayberry, Victorino, Brown outfield out there the rest of the year. Let’s see if it works. Better than putting the walking corpse that is Ibanez in left every day (love him, but he’s just not an everyday player anymore). I know I’ve been ranting so I’m going to stop at this point. I just don’t get when Hunter Pence became the superhero that’s going to lift our offense to greatness (up from the 4+ runs per game since Utley came back)

  2. Css228

    July 29, 2011 12:58 PM

    Please RAJ don’t

  3. Css228

    July 29, 2011 12:59 PM

    Actually why aren’t we considering Upton at all?

  4. Dustin

    July 29, 2011 01:00 PM

    Blah, yeah, SI and ESPN are both reporting Brown’s name has been brought into it. Wade could be the worst GM ever if he doesn’t pull the trigger now.

  5. Phillie697

    July 29, 2011 01:10 PM

    I would have rather traded Cosart AND Singleton for Beltran at this point. At least we’d keep Brown for next year, plus any way you slice it, Beltran > Pence this year, by far. What’s the point of getting a player with team control by trading away another player with (more) team control, when the future projection of both players are essentially equal with Brown having more upside?

  6. Phillie697

    July 29, 2011 01:14 PM

    @Css228, because Upton is terrible? Plus the Rays seem to not want to trade him for cheap.

  7. Phillie697

    July 29, 2011 01:16 PM

    If Brown is traded for Pence, I will officially jump off the RAJ bandwagon and consider him just another GM. With the Howard contract and trading away Brown, I might as well stop watching Phillies baseball from 2015-2020.

  8. Matty B.

    July 29, 2011 01:18 PM

    I wouldn’t trade Brown for Pence straight up, let alone with other guys included.

  9. Css228

    July 29, 2011 01:19 PM

    @ Phillie697 – Price is more reasonable than Pence and argument can be made Pence is no better than Upton whose also 2 years younger

  10. Phillie697

    July 29, 2011 01:24 PM

    What we need to do is flood the message boards now that Brown is in the mix and talk about how terrible that would be. Obviously RAJ is listening to the bozos who are crying to trade Brown for Pence.

  11. Phillie697

    July 29, 2011 01:25 PM

    @Css228 – Yeah, except we want help THIS year as well. Upton is terrible THIS year. If we aren’t looking at this year, why make a trade? Brown > Pence or Upton in 2012 or 2013.

  12. Css228

    July 29, 2011 01:39 PM

    Oh not saying trade Brown at all. I’m saying that Upton can help us now (get Ibanez out of playing everyday) and we might be able to keep Brown in the process

  13. Phillie697

    July 29, 2011 02:19 PM

    I’d say offer Cosart and Singleton to the Twins for Cuddyar and see if they bite. Cuddyar is better than Pence anyway, and we can probably even sign him for less than what Pence will get in arbitration.

  14. Phillie697

    July 29, 2011 02:20 PM

    And btw, if two days ago someone said let’s offer Cosart and Singleton for Cuddyar, I would have told him he’s crazy. Yet here we are… RAJ is absolutely nuts, and he’s affecting my sanity.

  15. CP

    July 29, 2011 02:21 PM

    According to ESPN: “The reason for that: The Phillies initially offered their two best prospects, pitcher Jarred Cosart and first baseman Jonathan Singleton, and were told that wasn’t enough. The Phillies then offered to include their right fielder, Domonic Brown. But the Astros, according to one team that spoke with them, would prefer to spin Brown elsewhere for multiple prospects than take him themselves.”

    Are you serious? I hope the Phillies don’t make a terrible mistake.

  16. LarryCosgrove

    July 29, 2011 02:34 PM

    While I agree that the Phillies have issues with the Giants, and will be underdogs against them in the playoffs, I think it is a dumb move to trade away Domonic Brown for either Hunter Pence or B.J. Upton.

    Pence is not a star, whatever his average. He is the kind of everyday player who puts up decent (not fantastic) averages, while fans more or less ignore him. As for Upton, he is a head case without the ambition to make things work. You can have all of the physical assets and skills to be a dominating player, and still not get there. That is how you describe B.J.

    Salary wise, it makes no sense to mess with our line-up now. Vance Worley is one of those workaday pitchers who will complement the other four quite well. Domonic Brown (sorry Dave) is going to be a very good player, but not a great one. He will have a couple of “great” years like Werth had, probably some good ones too. I suspect that he will grow enough to help the Phillies this season and certainly next. But trading either for a righty bat that might or might not produce, and NOT electrify the fans, is not good business.

    If the Phillies can trade other prospects for a borderline great, but older, player with a righty stance, more power to them. I am just saying that we cannot improve the team now. That should have been done pre-season after a year when the bats largely fell silent.

  17. Phillie697

    July 29, 2011 02:38 PM

    At this point, I say go trade for Francoeur. Above average outfield defense, decent bat, mashes left-handed hitting… BEST of all, don’t need to trade Brown.

    I can’t believe I just advocated trading for Francoeur…

  18. DomTheFuture

    July 29, 2011 04:27 PM

    phillie697, francoeur turned down more money from the phils this offseason to go play for the royals, so you might say the feeling is mutual.

    i hope we get in on quintin. i hear the white sox are setting up to trade him this winter, but if we give them a good enough offer im sure they’ll trade him. plus he’s a better impact bat than pence. Quintin can carry the offense on a good night, pence is just a contributor. plus hes much cheaper (no brown and probably keep cosart or singleton)

  19. Phillie697

    July 29, 2011 04:42 PM

    Watch us find out Monday morning that it was Houston who put the Dom Brown rumors out there in the first place, causing me to age 10 years in the process.

  20. LTG

    July 29, 2011 04:44 PM

    Did someone mention Upton? Have you looked at his stats recently?

  21. Phillie697

    July 29, 2011 04:51 PM

    My preference now is Quentin > Cuddyer > Francoeur > Ludwick. In fact, I would only want Ludwick if we’re getting him as part of a combo deal for Adams/Bell. Charlie’s loyalty to Ibanez or not, Ludwick actually hits right-handed pitching worse than Ibanez, so Ludwick would strictly be a platoon.

  22. Mike B.

    July 29, 2011 05:37 PM

    @LarryCosgrove: good points about Upton; however, his talent makes him pretty intriguing. Too bad the Rays are asking too high a price for him, b/c he strikes me as a guy who could benefit immensely from being in a locker room like the Phillies’. It’s one thing to be unmotivated when you play in Tampa; it’s another to remain that way when you have to look guys like Jimmy Rollins, Roy Halladay and Chase Utley in the face every day.

  23. Taco

    July 29, 2011 07:23 PM

    If the rumors are true, I don’t know who is more stupid, the Phillies for offering Brown for Pence, or the Astros for rejecting that offer

  24. Dustin

    July 29, 2011 08:22 PM

    Trade could have been worse.

  25. Eric

    July 29, 2011 08:28 PM

    Pence is out of the Astros game. And Dom Brown is still in the lineup. Sweet!!!!

  26. feeox

    July 29, 2011 08:33 PM

    Pence and now Howard have been pulled from their games…connecting dots.

  27. feeox

    July 29, 2011 08:34 PM

    …Halladay too!

  28. Phillie697

    July 29, 2011 08:52 PM

    Ouch, Cosart, Singleton, AND 2 other prospects. This is a steep price, but seeing as how we didn’t trade Brown, I think I can live with it… Maybe.

    Now, let’s hope Charlie sits Ibanez more often than Brown.

  29. Matty B.

    July 29, 2011 08:54 PM


  30. wxdavid

    July 29, 2011 09:10 PM

    thats a steep price? …. um NO it isnt .

  31. wxdavid

    July 29, 2011 09:15 PM

    LARRY… Pence has good Number on a CRAPPY astros team. You seem to arguing that even though the phillies are vastly better team than Astros… that will have no impact Pence’s stats.

    Sorry I dont follow that reasoning.

  32. Phillie697

    July 29, 2011 09:36 PM

    Yeah it’ll impact his stats, the stats that don’t matter, like RBIs and runs. Minute Maid Park is actually a better hitter’s park than CBP.

    Well, I guess there is one VERY minor improvement to his hitting over the rest of the season… He won’t have to face the Phillies pitchers in Houston’s Sept. 3-game series with the Phillies.

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