Philadelphia Phillies: Delmon Young Signing Shows Phils' Fear of Closing Window

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Philadelphia Phillies: Delmon Young Signing Shows Phils' Fear of Closing Window
Leon Halip/Getty Images
For $750K, how could Amaro Jr. go wrong?

Delmon Young has been a Phillie for a very short time, and per Ruben Amaro Jr., already Young is being penned in as the Phillies' starting right fielder in 2013 (h/t hardballtalk.nbcsports.com).

Young hit .267 with 18 home runs and 74 runs batted in for the Detroit Tigers in 2012. Young is a right-handed hitter, he is only 27 years old and he's coming off ankle surgery.

For all of those reasons, and because Young is kind of a jerk, a guy who once drove in 112 runs in a single season and was the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player in 2012 took the Phillies' low-ball offer of one year with a $750,000.00 base salary.

Incentives could push the deal's value to $3.5 million, per mlb.com.

For weeks, Phillies fans were hearing that the Phillies were interested in signing right-handed outfielder Cody Ross, who instead went to the Arizona Diamondbacks for three years and $26 million.

Ross' 2012 slash line of .267/22/81 is not much different from Young's 2012 slash line of .267/18/74. And Ross is four years older. Is Ross really $25 million better than Young at this stage of their careers?

The clear and fair knock on Young is that he supposedly cannot play right field (or perhaps any position) adequately, and thus he is best suited for the American League.

But the 2008 Phillies won the World Series with a decomposing Pat Burrell chipping home runs into the short porch in left field. The 1993 Phillies won a pennant with Pete Incaviglia and Wes Chamberlain staggering around the AstroTurf at Veterans Stadium. None of them were ever confused with Garry Maddox in the outfield.

It didn't matter, because they all hit.

Above all else, though, Young's addition to the roster tells you that Amaro has seen all he needs to see out of John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown—and not enough from Darin Ruf.

Amaro Jr. has concluded that none of them can hit in the middle of the lineup for a Phillies team that is trying to make one last playoff push with the core of the teams that won the National League in 2008 and 2009.

Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels have been with the Phillies through mostly thick and not much thin. But last season's 81-81 season, marred by extended absences from Howard and Utley, could be seen as either a temporary setback or the beginning of a trend.

Amaro has seven players on the 2013 roster guaranteed to each make eight figures' worth of the Phillies' money in 2013 (Roy Halladay, Hamels, Howard, Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, Rollins, Utley.) Michael Young is also going to make $16 million in 2013, but $10 million of that is coming from the Texas Rangers.

Every one of those players but Hamels is over 30 years of age.

If the 2013 team does not make the playoffs, significant changes are likely in the very near future. For that matter, if the team falls out of the 2013 race early, the likes of Halladay, Utley and Young (all of whom have contracts that will end after 2013) could be dealt to contenders.

And that means this is no time to be relying on "maybes" and "could-bes" in the outfield.

Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
John Mayberry Jr. is a career .254 hitter. You don't need to know more.

John Mayberry Jr. is 29 years old. He is a lifetime .254 hitter with a career on-base percentage of .313.

Domonic Brown is still a young player at 25 years of age. But his numbers are worse than Mayberry Jr.'s (.236 lifetime average, .315 career on-base percentage) and he is another left-handed hitter in a lineup loaded with them.

If either Mayberry Jr. or Brown had "it," it stands to reason the Phillies would have seen it by now.

Fans clamor for 2012 minor league sensation Darin Ruf, who was his league's Most Valuable Player at Double-A Reading in the Eastern League.

Ruf had a nice stint with the Phillies in September last year. But that is all it was: 12 games and 37 at-bats on a team playing out the string of a dead season.

To project Ruf as a No. 5 hitter on a team with a win-now-or-else imperative based on 37 at-bats would leap over "optimistic" and land on "foolish."

Maybe Ruf can be a productive major league hitter, maybe he can't. If Ruf was starting the season in Miami, or even with the New York Mets, plugging him into the starting lineup from the jump would make a ton of sense.

Not in Philadelphia, though. Not in 2013. Not with a team whose shelf life gets shorter with each passing day.

So the Phillies spent on Delmon Young's 2013 season approximately what a single Cole Hamels start will cost in 2013. For that money, they secured a right-handed power bat who is not a "maybe" or a "could be."

Young is a proven right-handed hitter at the major league level.

The Phillies could not afford to go into 2013 without one of them.

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