Raise your hands in the air and wave them like you just don't care if you saw this coming.
Back in June/July, the Phillies were mired in hitting hell, Jayson Werth was the worst person in the world, Raul Ibanez wasn't hitting jack, and Domonic Brown was setting metaphorical fire to the International League. Most people, blinded by shiny new prospect toy and their own frustrations with this criminally underperforming ballclub, ranted and raved for a DB promotion, with less than 30 games logged at AAA. I include myself in this ignorance mosh pit because at the time, I did not see any realistic way we could jump back into contention with the Braves 6+ games ahead of us.
So after Shane Victorino went down with a strained abdominal muscle, Little Brown got the word from Ruben that he'd be taking his talents to Philly. While even the most minor league-oblivious Phils fan was excited for *Dominic* to step into the spotlight, there were a few seeds of worry in my mind. Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley went the Minor League equivalent route:
The problem is that Minor League statistics don’t translate exactly into Major League statistics. [...] Brown’s current .346/.390/.561 triple-slash line for Lehigh Valley changes to .306/.348/.479 at the Major League level. An .827 OPS isn’t bad at all, but it also isn’t enough to make us forget about Jayson Werth.
This is 100% true and while MLE's aren't even remotely foolproof, they do a serviceable job of predicting what a minor leaguer would do given a call-up. Let's jump ahead for a second and check out his triple slash so far.
There's no way around this. It's awful. The most concerning part is the 17/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Back to it in a second though.
What worried me more than any Gavin Floyd-esque mind funk is what would have happened once Shane came back from the DL. Charlie's bench usage has always been his weakest managerial aspect with maybe the exception of Brad Lidge. With Ben Francisco as the 4th outfielder, would that relegate Dom to John Mayberry's role last year? Bring him in as a pinch hitter in a clutch spot and watch him strike out against relievers sculpted to be his demise?
Turns out this is exactly what has happened.
Despite frequent chances for Amaro to send Dom to Lehigh Valley for at-bats (Victorino's return, Ryan Howard's return, Mike Sweeney signed), he has chosen to keep him at the major league level to....collect dust on the bench. When you're the number one prospect in the minors (you're probably not), you need AB's, repetition, and constant work. If this was September 2008 where Lou Marson and Greg Golson got called up after the AAA season ended to get a few licks against real pitching and hang out with the boys during a playoff race, then awesome. But we're scrapping with the Braves and Giants to get a spot somewhere, and there's no time to babysit anybody (actually Danys Baez has free time), much less a guy that could be getting regular at-bats for the IronPigs.
Dom's troubles against lefties have been exaggerated so far, mostly because Charlie's not letting him hit against any -- call me old-fashioned, but 13 appearances is a bit light for me. He's started in 10 games since his July 28th arrival, logging 48 at-bats. After starting out 4-7, he's 7-41 -- good for a .170 average and less than half the plate appearances everybody's boy Rich Thompson has accrued in his stead in Allentown.
Do I think his being mishandled this year will have a devastating effect on the rest of his career? No. But it could slow up his development by a few months and cost the Phillies some money. Odds are he would've been called up once the rosters expanded or at least next April, but aside from some fan anticipation and the few hits he has gotten in limited time, calling him up has to be considered a mistake at this point.
They're basically pot-committed now, so sending him down for two weeks only to bring him up would just exacerbate things. Charlie has to find some way to get him regular AB's and keep that development curve on the upswing. Especially in light of the collective age of the Phillies regulars, Brown should be filling in more than his recent playing time indicates. One start in the past two weeks where he got 2 at-bats just isn't going to cut it.
But seriously though, who didn't see this one coming?