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2012: Dom Brown, Chase Utley…?
Posted By Christopher Rowe On Mar 5 2011 @ 6:17 pm In Philadelphia Phillies | 1 Comment
According to all available sources, Phillies and professional Spring Training strikeout artist Domonic Brown broke his right hand. The blue chip prospect OF (ranked #4 by Baseball America) suffered the injury during an at-bat earlier on Saturday afternoon.
Facing Paul Maholm of the Pirates, Brown fouled a ball off and appeared to shake his hand following the pitch, according to sources. He then singled up the middle on the next pitch (his first base hit of the spring after nearly two dozen strikeouts), but did not take the field the following inning. Now, we know why… but for how long…?
Brown broke the hamate bone in his hand and will likely be out 3-6 weeks after surgery. Ruben Amaro Jr. has stated officially that despite this development, he still considers the right field job an open competition – even if that continues into the regular season. No one has the right field job locked up – although odds and The Eyeball Test indicate that the front-runner is Ben Francisco. Francisco has been tearing the cover off the ball in the first week of Grapefruit League games.
While this is a tough break (literally) for Dom Brown, perhaps it will force the Phillies to make a decision sooner than planned. Originally, Francisco was supposed to compete with Brown, John
Mayberry, Ross Gload and possibly Delwyn Young. Now that Brown is out of the running, it guarantees that Brown will require more time at AAA after rehabilitation. Most distressing is that a broken hand leads to a lack of power and will require additional rehabilitation in order to rebuild strength. Apparently, it can take between 12-18 months to regain full power  after a broken hamate in the hand. Brown will very likely spend most of 2011 in AAA – perhaps not returning to the major league club until September.
As for right field… it makes Francisco the prohibitive favorite – which he probably was anyway. Barring any additional moves, this may simply add Corey Sullivan (http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/philadelphia-phillies/sullivan-signs-minor-league-deal/) to the laundry list of platoon prospects. Sullivan is a left-handed veteran OF with moderate power, average speed and has been in minor league camp during the Spring.
In 2010, Brown batted .327 last year between two levels, with an OPS of .980 and 20 HR. He was, for a time, ranked the top prospect in all of baseball, and slated to take over for Jayson Werth in right field once he signed elsewhere. So Ruben Amaro called him up to the bigs once Shane Victorino went down in July and despite only 62 at-bats in three months, Brown stayed with the team while Ben Francisco managed a mere 72 at-bats. It is possible that the real Dom Brown will not be seen in a Phillies uniform until 2012 at the earliest.
CHASE UTLEY WATCH!: Chase Utley had a cortisone shot in his ailing knee, sending a fan base and franchise reeling while they fear the worst. The knee “tendinitis” has not healed with simple rest and treatment as originally prescribed. A cortisone shot was the next step to reduce the inflammation, but to this point, it has not. It might be time to start worrying quite a bit more, especially if this prognosis continues in its seeming downward spiral. What is Plan B?
G M Ruben Amaro told the media today that Utley’s injury could be worse than the team initially suspected, but that the doctors are still diagnosing it as tendinitis. Delmon Young and Wilson Valdez have been sharing playing time. Look for the team to take a much longer look at Michael Martinez, Pete Orr and Josh Barfield in weeks to come. Potential replacement candidates from outside the organization remain unofficial as Amaro refuses to comment, but this is the same GM who breathed nothing of the Cliff Lee signing until December 14 (2 days before the team physical made the announcement officially public). Keep your fingers crossed and start thinking about what kind of a deal we could put together with Joe Blanton and Michael Young (TEX).
Maybe involving additional players would be prudent in the consideration of Nelson Cruz. Cruz’s contract ($3.65M) as well as Young’s ($16M) would far exceed that of candidates in camp right now, but if both Utley and Brown could be lost for half the season, perhaps more drastic measures would be required. Possible trade bait would have to include Raul Ibanez ($10M), Blanton and possibly some combination of Orr, Sullivan, Mayberry or Barfield. It is more likely that the Rangers, who are eager to unload Young’s salary as a fifth infielder/DH would seek a lot more talent in return for Young or Cruz. Joe Blanton would help their starting rotation but is owed $16M through 2012. Ibanez is 39 years old. If you had a choice between Cruz (.318 AVG, 22 HR, 78 RBI in just 400 AB in 2010) and Ibanez (.275, 16 HR, 83 RBI in 561 AB), which would you take?
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 between 12-18 months to regain full power: http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/id/33597/mlb-insider-keith-law
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