During my years traveling regularly with the Phillies, it sometimes rankled me when writers back home would cherry pick a quote from afar and make a big deal about it without having been privvy to the proper context. So that's exactly what I'm about to do (although, in my defense, I must point out that I did run this by our man on the ground in Miami, who should need no introduction in this space). Here's what jumped out at me from what Ruben Amaro Jr. told the media yesterday with regard to an upcoming roster decision that will require him to clear a space on the active 25 for David Buchanan, who will start Saturday in place of Cliff Lee. Amaro explicity ruled out sending down Ben Revere, who has options, saying, "We have a lot of guys who have options here who haven't been playing all that well." At which point my spidey sense screamed, HE'S TALKING ABOUT DOMONIC BROWN.
First, though. . .
1) I'm not sure how much sense it makes to continue to carry Ben Revere and Tony Gwynn on the same roster. They have the same exact skill set, and as of right now, neither is making use of it particularly well. Revere has had more of an opportunity to do so, but Gwynn has had plenty of opportunity in previous years in his career. What it comes down to is that, given the sample size they've produced this far into their major league careers, there's no reason to think that either player will suddenly become something that he has yet to be. Both players are fourth outfielder/defensive replacement/pinch runner types. Both hit left handed. Gwynn is better defensively. Revere is younger. They are never going to start in the same outfield on a team that wants to be considered a contender.
2) As far as I can tell, the only players who fit Amaro's description of having options and not playing very well are Revere, reliever Luis Garcia, and Domonic Brown. Jeff Manship fits the second category but not the first. Well, with Brown, we have another option. I’ve been a big supporter of him getting an extended opportunity as a regular major leaguer. And I don’t think the Phillies are in a position where they can write him off once and for all. But he looks like a hitter in need of serious remedial time right now. Yesterday, Mike Dunn threw three straight 94 mile per hour fastballs by Brown. He swung and missed at all three. He just looks completely off at the plate, and some time in Triple-A finding his swing might do him some good. Especially when the Phillies are at a point where they are going to need to find more offense to support a Cliff Lee-less rotation, and Darin Ruf is one of the only Wild Cards they can play and hope to get lucky on. The school of thought: Give Ruf an extended look in left field, see if he doesn’t get hot, and, if not, hope that a month-long timeout gives Brown the breathing room he might need to work out the kinks.
3) If the Phillies do not think Brown would be aided by time in the minors, then the rational move is to option Revere and hope that he gets hot at Triple-A. In the meantime, rotation Gwynn and John Mayberry Jr. in center field and Ruf and Brown in left field. The bench becomes better, Sandberg gets more options when filling out his lineup, etc.