Philadelphia Phillies: Why Trading Domonic Brown Right Now Makes Sense

Mike AngelinaContributor IIIDecember 14, 2011

It's been a tough first 2 seasons for Brown
It's been a tough first 2 seasons for BrownLen Redkoles/Getty Images

Think back to July 2009 when the Phillies were hot for Roy Halladay. The only way they could get him from Toronto was a package that included Domonic Brown. Talks stalled and eventually the trade deadline passed without a move.

During the offseason and 2009 Winter Meetings, the teams revisited the idea of trading Halladay to the Phillies. The Phillies again refused to let go of Brown and eventually they settled on three other prospects in exchange for Halladay.

Catcher Travis d’Arnaud seemingly replaced Brown in the deal that was agreed upon, and the Phillies also sent Michael Taylor and Kyle Drabek, both of whom were rumored to be part of the deal, to Toronto.

Recently, the Phillies made an attempt to get d’Arnaud back from Toronto, seemingly implying regret. Remember, this trade happened on the same day as another trade that sent a player to Seattle whom the Phillies ended up bringing back.

If it was Brown and not d’Arnuad that the Phillies had traded, would they have been calling Toronto two years later to reacquire him?

With the way Brown has played in his two partial seasons of Major League ball, it wouldn’t even be a thought. Instead, you have to wonder if Roy Halladay is insulted that the team refused to give up a struggling outfielder for his potential Hall-of-Fame talents.

Brown has contributed to making Halladay look bad with some of his blunders in the outfield. You’ll recall his helpless dive forward in attempt to be on Sports Center on a ball hit in the ninth inning of a shutout bid for Halladay.

The ball went past him and resulted in a triple by the baserunning-challenged Miguel Montero. If Brown played it correctly, it would have just been a single, not a run-scoring triple.

That was just one of many blunders by the oft-struggling corner outfielder.

There have been some other notable screw-ups, such as mistaking a ground-rule double for a foul ball, not being interested in touching a base he knew he missed, failing to back up plays in the outfield and, of course, jogging to first base three times in the same game.

There was also this game against Syracuse in a AAA double header.

To say the least, Brown has made a fool of himself in his two big-league seasons.

So where does he fit into the Phillies' plans? It's tough to find him a spot, for 2012 or the beyond.

John Mayberry Jr. is under club control through 2016. He has clearly outplayed Brown after slugging .513 last season, and is better than Brown in every aspect of the game except maybe foot speed. Mayberry makes up for this very marginal difference with being a smart, sound baserunner, contrary to Brown.

PHILADELPHIA - JULY 24: Right fielder Domonic Brown #9 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws to second base during a game against the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park on July 24, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 5-3. (Photo by Hunt
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Hunter Pence is under control through 2013. He's a two-time All-Star, if you needed any justification to play him in right field over Brown. He also led all Phillies regulars in batting average in 2011.

You can forget about considering him for that "left-handed-bat-of-the-bench" role. Ahead of him for that role is future Hall-of-Famer Jim Thome.

The Phillies also brought in reserve outfielder Laynce Nix with a two-year contract. Nix too bats left-handed and hit 16 home runs last season.

If Brown does not have a clear path to return to the Majors, what is the point of keeping him? Depth at this point may be the only motivation, but that's no reason to keep him.

Theoretically, if Toronto wanted him more than d'Arnaud, then they would accept a Brown-for-d'Arnaud deal, right?

Not anymore, not the way Brown's stock has plummeted. He's been exposed. It's going to continue to plummet if they keep exposing each and every one of his flaws.

Before Brown's stock falls anymore, it's time to make a move and at least get something.

In what is a pretty obvious correlation, the more a prospect is exposed as being a fraud, the more their value decreases.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 29:  General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. talks to Domonic Brown #9 of the Philadelphia Phillies during batting practice prior to their game against Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park on July 29, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvani
Len Redkoles/Getty Images

They no longer will have a chance to capitalize on a J.A. Happ-type hot start to a career to score a big return. Brown's lack of a hot start is at fault for that one.

Just as a prospect's return value can reach a high, it can also reach a low: nothing.

Consider Brandon Wood, who hit 144 home runs in fewer than four full Minor League seasons. After hitting .168 in his first five seasons for the Angels, it became evident that he was not a big-league hitter. When the Angels moved on, they could not get anything in return for him; they had to cut him.

Before Brown reaches the point of becoming a bust, which is starting to look likely, try and settle for getting at least something for him.

There have been a few players and teams that have been in similar positions to the one in which Brown and the Phillies now find themselves.

Cameron Maybin, who at age 23 (same as Brown is now), was traded to San Diego for two quality relievers. Maybin was a highly-touted prospect (traded for Miguel Cabrera), but had a start to his Marlins career below expectations. They capitalized on whatever value he still had left and made sure they got something for him.

Former Mets prospect Lastings Milledge, who like Brown would often Cadillac his way through games, was traded to Washington following the 2007 season, his second in the Majors, for starting catcher Brian Schneider and starting outfielder Ryan Church.

Again, the team that traded the plummeting prospect got significant value in return.

An important thing to remember this offseason is that the Phillies are in win-now mode. Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are in their mid 30s. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are getting there.

Brown's career WAR is below 0, meaning his replacement literally would result in more wins than he does. In other words, he's not contributing in any way to the win-now mantra.

We have no indication he ever will. We don't even have an indication he'll have a spot, as he's currently blocked at the two positions he plays.

Get something while you still can.



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