Delmon Young's in the postseason, and is trolling Phillies fans
Nick Swisher struck out in his big moment Wednesday night.
Michael Bourn did too.
Twice, the two much-discussed free agents of last winter had a chance to propel their newest team to the Divisional playoffs. Twice, they came up small.
Welcome to postseason baseball. Winner-take-all postseason baseball.
Go figure baseball.
Delmon Young? Remember him? Wednesday he did exactly what made him such a tantalizing gamble for the Phillies last winter. He drove the first pitch he saw, a 95-mile-per-hour heater, over the wall to give his newest team, the Tampa Bay Rays, a 1-0 lead.
It was his ninth postseason home run in 23 games, the fourth in his last 32 postseason at-bats.
"I can't figure that one out," he said when someone asked him about his postseason acumen after Tampa’s 4-0 wild-card victory over the Cleveland Indians. "I think next year I need to act like it's the postseason at the beginning of the season.
If only he had at the beginning of this season. Then again, the Phillies took a low-cost flyer on a high-impact player recovering from surgery on his ankle, and by the time Young was ready physically, his swing had lost a few miles off it.
With a stint in the Rays minor league system after being released by the Phillies, Young found those miles. Before his third-inning at-bat, Indians starter Danny Salazar had retired the first six batters he faced, four by strikeouts.
"A ball up in the zone," said Young. "I got ready in time and it looked fat out of his hands so I decided to take a rip at it."
As for Bourne and Swisher, neither had their best seasons up until Wednesday’s showdown game. Bourn, 30, finished with a .263 average and a .319 on base percentage, the third straight year those numbers have declined. Bourn’s OPS was also lower than it has been since his first season as an everyday player.
Swisher, a month shy of his 33rd birthday, also experienced a statistical decline, posting his worst average and OPS since 2008.
Swisher signed a four-year, $56 million deal that takes him through 2016, with a vesting option for 2017. Bourn’s deal is also guaranteed for four years and $48 million, also with a vesting option at the end. No doubt each player contributed to the Tribe winning 93 games and tasting postseason play for the first time since,
But it’s hard to argue that either would have made much of a difference for the 2013 Phillies. And Young made sure neither will taunt us with what-ifs, at least in this postseason.
And Young? It’s hard to be mad at the guy. After his surgery, it took him most of the summer to find his groove, forced him to sign a minor-league deal with the Rays just to do it. Personally, I’d like to see a few more swings like that in the upcoming series against the Red Sox, would like to see Joe Maddon’s road warriors reach the World Series again.
As for the Phillies, they took a low-risk shot on the guy. It didn’t pan out. But at least they didn’t extend two long-range contracts to two players who did little this season to suggest that would have been money well spent.