I used to collect football and baseball cards pretty religiously when I was a kid.
I would scrap together whatever money I could, fishing between couch cushions and doing odd jobs for the neighbors, to buy a pack for a few bucks. Every once in a while, I'd see an individual card that I felt like was a must have.
Usually, that card was either an Eagle, like Randall Cunningham, a Phillie, like Darren Daulton, or a rookie with promise, because they're the ones that end up being worth money.
Before they ever play a game, those rookie cards have value. I remember buying a Curtis Enis rookie card way back when, and it immediately became the crown jewel of my collection. You remember Enis—Penn State guy, drafted by the Bears, and few months later we realized all that "muscle" was really fat? It was worth 10 dollars, which is a lot when you're seven.
Then, Enis took the field. The next year, that card was worth three bucks. The following year, it was down to a dollar. Today, I'd be surprised if it's worth a dime.
The value peaked based on promise, not performance.
Now, it would be really mean to compare Domonic Brown to Curtis Enis—by all accounts one of the biggest busts in NFL history. Still, though, I have a suspicion that Ruben Amaro Jr. sees him that way, to a degree.
Amaro knows what Brown is today—a toolsy prospect who has yet to prove himself on the big stage.
He knows that, today, he could use Brown to bring in an impact player should the Phillies decide to buy at the deadline.
He also knows that, if the team goes into rebuilding mode, selling Brown as a cornerstone of the future would be a pretty easy proposition to a fanbase force-fed tales of his impending greatness.
That is why Brown is not a Phillie on June 12, 2012. The moment he takes the field in what may be his last shot to show he can play in Major League Baseball, he loses his identity as a sky-is-the-limit-prospect. Instead, he will be judged as any other player—by his performance.
That's a scary idea for a team will so few sure things going forward, seemingly fewer everyday.
Nevertheless, Brown should be the Phillies left fielder soon. Like tomorrow. Even if it makes his rookie card lose value.