Dreading Delmon Young

Delmon Young officially started his rehab assignment yesterday. Matt Gelb reports the future Phillies right fielder had an interesting day patrolling the outfield, botching the first ball hit to him:

The first batter hit a fly ball at Young and it landed for a triple. Young should have limited the hitter to a single had he taken a better route, said two people who attended the game in Lakeland, Fla. Later, in the seventh inning, Young committed a fielding error that allowed a runner to take an extra base.

He batted cleanup in single-A Clearwater’s lineup and went 1 for 4 with a sacrifice fly and single. While the Phillies are evaluating Young’s bat, they are primarily concerned with his defense.

“Delmon isn’t going to come here unless he can play right field,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said April 12. “If he can’t play right field, he ain’t coming.”

Everyone knew his defense would be an issue as soon as the Phillies signed him, so this isn’t surprising news. What is surprising is that the Phillies have had good production out of right field, at least from the similarly right-handed John Mayberry. In 32 plate appearances as the Phillies’ right fielder, Mayberry has posted a .978 OPS which includes a homer and four doubles. Laynce Nix hasn’t been anything to write home about as he is the author of a .345 OPS when in right. Sample size caveats abound. On the other hand, Domonic Brown has struggled offensively out of the gate. His OPS as the left fielder is a paltry .638.

The Phillies will have an interesting decision to make if and when Young is ready to join the 25-man roster. Ezequiel Carrera seems to be the easy choice for odd man out.

Compared to Mayberry, Young won’t add anything of value to the outfield. Like Mayberry, Young hits left-handers well, but right-handers not so much. Mayberry’s career wOBA against LHP is .372 compared to .308 against RHP; Young’s career splits are .352 and .309, respectively. Mayberry, obviously, runs the bases much better and plays better defense.

On the other side, as much as Brown has struggled as of late, he has only logged 60 PA in total and still has yet to have more than two consecutive months of consistent playing time at the Major League level. If Mayberry is hitting and Brown is not, the Phillies may be tempted to have Young usurp Brown’s role, but that would be counter-productive to the team’s long-term goals, which is developing talent.

The Phillies are fine without Young. They have the fourth-worst walk rate in baseball at 6.1 percent, and Young’s career 4.1 percent walk rate will only drag that down further. The Phillies are striking out more than all but five teams at 22.1 percent, and Young’s 17.5 percent rate isn’t very helpful. The Phillies are the fourth-best base running team according to FanGraphs; Young has cost his teams between three and four runs on the bases in two of the last three years. And, of course, the Phillies are weak defensively this side of Ben Revere, Chase Utley, and Freddy Galvis (when he does play); Young would only hurt them further defensively, as mentioned above.

To put this succinctly, there is nothing to look forward to when Young is healthy enough to join the 25-man roster. He would need to catch fire offensively more than Kevin Frandsen did last year just to have the Phillies break even over their other options.

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21 comments

  1. Richard

    April 22, 2013 08:01 AM

    “They have the fourth-worst walk rate in baseball at 6.1 percent, and Young’s career 4.1 percent walk rate will only drag that down further.”

    Yeah, more to the point: which ever player he’d replace, be it Mayberry or Brown, is currently currently one of the few players who currently is drawing walks.

  2. Jonny5

    April 22, 2013 09:29 AM

    Delmon Young can only help this team as a 1st base platoon to compliment Howard, pinch hitter, or as an inter league DH. Otherwise he will give up more runs than he produces. That’s how I see it, and with how Howard has produced lately, it may light a fire under Howards a$$, which is sorely needed.

  3. Phillie697

    April 22, 2013 09:38 AM

    At some point Phillies fans may have to just come to the realization that Ryan Howard just… isn’t… that… good… anymore. I hate using that “anymore” in that word, because he hasn’t been good for a long time now. But I do recall some fuzzy memory about how he was pretty good once upon a time.

  4. Phillie697

    April 22, 2013 09:38 AM

    word = sentence.

  5. Richard

    April 22, 2013 10:03 AM

    If you’re just talking about offensive value, Howard was still “good” in 2010 & 2011. Unless you don’t consider a wRC+ of 125 good.

    I admit I was anticipating a pretty sizable rebound from him this year, and he hasn’t look so hot in the early going.

  6. Tomg

    April 22, 2013 10:03 AM

    It’s always … I’ll go with “interesting”, here … to hear broadcasters talk about the light at the end of the tunnel for the Phillies because Ruiz and Delmon Young will be in the line-up soon … as though those two were of equivalent value.

    As you point out, yet again, vis-a-vis our outfield, we’re better off at status quo.

  7. JM

    April 22, 2013 10:32 AM

    I am wondering if Revere might get the bench more often. JMJ plays an ok CF and has the power potential. It could be is “jason Werth” yr…at least I hope it is…I know it’s the wrong move, but we all know Cholly loves when the ball leaves the yard, and Revere certainly isn’t gonna do that…

  8. amarosucks

    April 22, 2013 10:43 AM

    ryan howard stinks. has since the 09 WS. how can a player be in the majors and be so scared/unable to throw the ball? that play last night was comical.

    as for d young, he’s an inevitable disaster. shierholtz has played well offensively for the cubs and he is one of the best defensive corner OFs in mlb. dropping him was just another of amaro’s blunders.

    what does amaro need to do in order to get fired? the OF situation is one of the many ways that he has proven to be completely overmatched as a GM.

  9. Phillie697

    April 22, 2013 10:45 AM

    @Richard,

    In 2010 and 2011, Ryan Howard’s wOBA among all qualified 1B was 10th and 11th respectively. In other words, without even looking at his negative contributions in defense and base running, he was merely an average-to-above-average 1B. And then we had last year. Yes, he isn’t “that good” anymore.

    You have to remember, he’s a 1B. He is SUPPOSE to hit. If he doesn’t hit like a 1B, he belongs in the league about as much as Douchbag Young does.

  10. Evan

    April 22, 2013 11:10 AM

    It is frustrating that Amaro didn’t keep Schierholtz. I suppose Young is like $1MM cheaper, but I have a feeling money had less to do with it than how poorly Amaro evaluates talent.

  11. hk

    April 22, 2013 12:55 PM

    Evan,

    The thing is that the only way that Young will cost them less than Schierholtz would have cost is if Young never plays. Schierholtz was going to get ~$1.5M in free agency. Young is guaranteed $750K + $250K coming on his 1st day on the active roster + another $600K as long as he keeps his weight below 230 lbs + additional bonuses depending upon Young’s time on the active roster and PA’s.

    The other thing is that RAJ probably saw his decision as one between Schierholtz and Laynce Nix and, since he ever so wisely signed Nix to a 2-year deal before last season – I’m sure because teams were lining up to give Laynce Nix 2 guaranteed years – he let Schierholtz go in favor of Nix. I remember arguing with RAJ supporters when he signed Nix about how unnecessary it was to give Nix 2 years and they defended RAJ by saying he’ll just cut him and eat the 2nd year at $1.35M if it doesn’t pan out.

  12. Pencilfish

    April 22, 2013 01:31 PM

    The Phillies are not *fine* by a long shot, not with that walk rate and the anemic offense up and down the lineup so far.

    Young may turn out to be a bust, but the paranoid fear is not yet warranted. There are still 19 days on the rehab assignment, and as RAJ said, he has to hit and play RF adequately before being called up. Even if he’s called up, you can always sub Mayberry for him in the late innings. This is a non-story.

    The much bigger development is Ruiz’s impending return next Sunday, and who takes over from Lannan over the next 6-8 weeks. This should have a much bigger and immediate impact than DY’s play in rehab.

  13. hk

    April 22, 2013 02:03 PM

    While the Phillies wait for Delmon Young to rehab so they can determine whether they’re going to pay him $1M or $3M, Oakland just paid cash for a minimum salaried RH hitting OF who has accumulated between 3.9 and 4.4 WAR (depending upon what site you use) in 650 PA’s and who has a .363 wOBA vs. LH pitchers in 313 PA’s. It sure would be nice to have a John Mayberry / Ryan Howard platoon at 1B and a Nate Schierholtz / Casper Wells platoon in RF.

  14. Jack Parkman

    April 22, 2013 02:14 PM

    I’m hardly in the Delmon Young fan club (for both the reasons Bill lists and the fact that he’s a despicable human being), but I’m not willing to pass judgment on his potential value to the Phillies.

    For me, the question is one of depth. What does Ezequiel Carrera give you? I see no reason he should ever get a start. Is he a defensive replacement? A back of the bench bat? I’m still not sure.

    Young, on the other hand, is not that much of a downgrade as a platoon OF / pinch hitter. I project him to be a slight upgrade over Domonic Brown against LHP. I have no interest in Young ever starting against righties, but an OF of Mayberry/Revere/Young (or Brown/Revere/Young with Mayberry at 1B once in a while) isn’t a bad option against a lefty. Getting D. Young two starts a week and three or four PH appearances isn’t that bad. As a part-time player who takes most of his ABs away from Brown/Howard vs. LHP (or PH ABs from Frandsen or Galvis), it’s not the end of the world. Still, I wish he’d walk more. And if I see him out there against righties I will be upset.

  15. Pencilfish

    April 22, 2013 10:51 PM

    hk,

    Casper Wells profiles as a clone of JMJ (defensively sound, big power, large platoon splits, prodigious SO machine, etc). Note that:

    1) Wells will be the 25-th man on the 25-man roster, and he could displace Michael Taylor (yes the former Phillie!).

    2) Wells is out of options. He can’t be sent down without going through waivers when Cespedes returns from the DL this weekend, so
    Wells could be available again next Monday.
    Maybe RAJ can fool Billy Beane and swap Brown for Wells!

  16. hk

    April 23, 2013 10:00 AM

    Pencilfish,

    JMJ and Wells are both better fielders and base-runners than Delmon Young and have also been better hitters, which points out the folly of guaranteeing $1M to Young with a chance for him to earn more as long as he keeps his weight down (even if he sucks). Also, since I think that JMJ should be platooning with Howard at 1B, the team could use a JMJ clone as part of an OF platoon and put out a more formidable lineup vs. LHP’s.

  17. hk

    April 23, 2013 10:04 AM

    Beane would probably look at Dom’s 11.8% BB% and his .234 BABIP and be happy to take a chance on him.

  18. Phillie697

    April 23, 2013 10:28 AM

    @hk,

    I’m just glad he remembered to be patient at the plate again. Further reminder to myself that I need to stop paying attention to small sample sizes.

  19. hk

    April 23, 2013 10:55 AM

    Phillie,

    After the GM stated that he was interested in production, not walks, Dom walked 3 times in his first 56 PA’s. After the GM stated his disbelief that the team did not walk in 3 or 4 consecutive games, Dom walked 5 times in his next 12 PA’s. Coincidence? Probably. Regardless, it is nice to see Dom get on base 6 times in his last 12 PA’s and I hope we see the patience continue and Dom get some better results on balls in play.

  20. Phillie697

    April 23, 2013 11:08 AM

    hk,

    If his BABIP doesn’t go up soon, I’m going to start thinking that he just sucks at actually making good contact. This is starting to get ridiculous.

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