Joining Up with HardballTalk

I will be contributing over at the NBC Sports baseball site HardballTalk for the 2013 season. You can catch me there every evening on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. This will have no effect on the content here as the partnership with ESPN remains intact, and I will still be contributing content on the Sweet Spot blog every weekend as well. I just published an introductory post over at HBT, which you can find here if you are interested.

Phillies Better off With Young than Brown

The Phillies have their answer for right field, but it’s not who you think it is.

Sure, Domonic Brown is hitting well in Clearwater. But he’s proven he can’t handle the limelight.

Delmon Young, on the other hand? He’s going to be the answer.

Brown, who was once a great prospect, has had three years to crack the Phillies’ starting lineup. But he hasn’t. Whether it’s by not playing through injury or by jogging to first base, he’s proven that he doesn’t have what it takes to win.

But what about Young?

Young is a right-handed power threat. In 2010, he hit .298 with 21 home runs and 112 RBI. Domonic Brown has never approached those numbers.

Young is a winner. He’s been to the playoffs four years in a row.

Who would you rather have? I’ll take the reigning ALCS MVP.

And he’s just getting started. He’s only 27, which means he’s still a prospect. But he already hits lefties 80 points better than the Phillies’ best hitter, Ryan Howard. Maybe an MVP is in Young’s future, too.

Maybe if Brown played more like Young, he would have been able to stay in the lineup. Young plays best when it counts. I know he’s had anger issues, but don’t you want that grit and fierceness in a player?

I’ve been around baseball a long time, and I know Dom Brown doesn’t care enough.

It’s strange that more people don’t see how great Delmon Young is. Some people say he doesn’t have enough WAR. But if you actually watch the games and don’t rely on made-up stats, you’ll see how much better Young is.

The Phillies aren’t going to give Brown the starting right field job. And they shouldn’t.

That’s the problem with people like Brown–they expect to be given everything. But it doesn’t look like he’ll ever learn that real men have to work hard.

Young brings a veteran presence to the lineup. An edge, but with good attitude. There’s no hungrier player in baseball than Delmon Young.

And that’s the real difference between Domonic Brown and a winner. The Phillies will be better off with the winner.

Phillies Prospect Conversation: Keith Law (ESPN)

Keith Law and I have interacted with each other a total of three times. Once was during my first trip to the Arizona Fall League in 2010. Nervous and paranoid, I held a door open for him as we entered Scottsdale Stadium via the front office, where scouts can pass through before a game to see batting practice and infield work. I wasn’t nervous that Keith Law was behind me as much as I was nervous about being caught in a place where I had absolutely no business being. It’s amazing what you can get away with at a ballpark when you wear a face of feigned confidence, tuck in an ugly polo shirt and carry one of those very adult looking, over-the-shoulder bags.

Not long after that, Keith and I got into a spirited, but short, “Audrey Hepburn vs. Grace Kelly” debate on Twitter. We chose to argue with words instead of just sending pictures back and forth to one another so we both lost that one as far as I’m concerned. Our most recent encounter is our discussion concerning the Phillies farm system which you’ll find below.

I don’t need to tell you about Keith’s experience or credentials. His voice’s rationality is only exceeded by its influence on modern baseball discourse. Make a list of who you associate with baseball statistics and a separate list of who you associate with prospects and scouting. Keith’s name will be the first you see on both lists. He broke Rob Parker. I encourage all of you to head over and grab an ESPN Insider link account now, even if it’s for Keith’s work alone. We emailed back and forth about the Phillies system for almost two weeks and exchanged about forty total correspondences.

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The Betancourt Power Rankings

With the Phillies’ dynasty fixing to end with an impotent whimpering of clueless old men the like of which we haven’t seen since the fall of the Soviet Union, it’s easy to forget about the little things.

Like, I’d completely forgotten that the Phillies had signed Yuniesky Betancourt. It’s easy to forget that Yuniesky Betancourt is on the Phillies when the season is only theoretical. But now, Yuniesky Betancourt has put on a Phillies uniform and played baseball in it, which leads me to consider the following:

Yuniesky Betancourt does nothing well on a baseball diamond. He does not hit, he does not field, he does not run, he does not scrap or grind or any of the other uncomfortable-sounding actions we ascribe to white people who are showy about how much effort they put into the game. Never mind that if they weren’t so unmistakably awful at baseball, they wouldn’t have to try so hard and we wouldn’t be in a constant state of “No, but seriously, man, he’s helping the team win, I promise.”

I’m looking at you, Ryan Theriot.

The point is, Yuniesky Betancourt is a Huxleyan Epsilon among ballplayers. But what if we compare him to a different group of which he is a subset? We know roughly where Yuni stacks up against baseball players, but how does he compare to other Betancourts?

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Crash Bag, Vol. 42: I’ve Got a Brand New Pair of Rollerskates

We’re a little under-length in this week’s Crash Bag, but fear not! …actually, there’s no good reason for that. Sometimes there just isn’t 2,500 words’ worth of baseball to write about.

I recently found myself in a social situation that involved an icebreaker question. Anyone who’s ever been to…I dunno, school, or camp, or any sort of organized social group will know what I’m talking about: you go around the room and everyone says his name, a piece of information relevant to the nature of the gathering and an inane fact about yourself. So if we were going around the baseball internet, I’d probably go: “I’m Mike, I write about the Phillies at Crashburn Alley and the last book I read was The Soccer Men by Simon Kuper.” That sort of thing.

When I taught, I’d use one of these at the start of the semester so I could put names with faces and start to get to know my students. It was clumsy, and sometimes boring, but it served a purpose. But the icebreaker question in this particular social situation was: “What was the last song you had stuck in your head?”

And Lord Almighty, what a horrific experience that question is.

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