The winter meetings are nearing their end and if you've been following Ruben Amaro at all, then you'll know that it's been pretty quiet. The General Manager, who is not known for his subtlety, has been very quiet so far, even as the market for the positions he needs to fill gets more and more competitive.
Put differently, Nothing of interest has happened in Nashville as far as anyone is concerned.
That is, until today, when Charlie Manuel gave an interview with the press. It wasn't groundbreaking and it's mostly the same stuff you're used to hearing, but in the interest of it being a slow news day, I wanted to call out one quote.
For the purpose of context, he was addressing the question, “You would not want [Darin] Ruf and [Domonic] Brown going into the season as your two starting corner outfielders?
"You know something, for me to say -- I think I'm sending a bad message if I say that I don't want them. I do want them. I want them to be the best players in baseball, but at the same time, like I think we're asking them a whole lot, but that doesn't mean that they can't do it."
That, right there, is some double talk. Or, as Charlie Manuel calls it, “talk.” He says one thing, reverses course a sentence later, and feels as though he's adequately answered your question. He's nothing if not confusing, I'll give him that much.
But I read that quote and I'm not even certain as to what he is trying to say. It sounds like he likes both Dom and Ruf, but to even say the words “I think I'm sending a base message if I say that I don't want them” sounds more like a tacit admission than a vote of confidence. If you think it sends a bad message to say it, then why even bring up the fact that it is, in fact, a bad message to send? You're almost overcompensating for something which you admit that you shouldn't say.
So when I read something like that, something that came from the manager of the team, I really wonder just how much the Phillies are willing to invest in the player that they didn't want to trade for Roy Halladay and who two years ago ranked as the number four prospect in the game.
I've probably defended Dom Brown more than anyone else on this blog, and for good reason: He's young, athletic, has all the tools to succeed, and can reasonably be the cornerstone of the Phillies for the next six or seven years -- something that this team is severely lacking right now in an era of injured bodies, big contracts, and guys on the wrong side of 30. And because of that, Dom should be THE guy, and just the seven-hole hitter in the lineup.
To be fair, it's not like Dom's performance has been out-of-this-world since he made his debut in 2010. He's amassed a .236/.315/.388 line with 12 homers in 147 games over three seasons. But, in his defense, he's not exactly had a lot of opportunity to break out, and not everyone can be Mike Trout. Between injuries, poor developmental management from the brass, and the needless acquisition of Hunter Pence in 2011, Brown has less than one full season under his belt. It's not exactly a lot of opportunity.
And for those calling for Dom to be sent packing, allow me to point out Mike Schmidt's stats through his first 145 games: .197/.324/.367, with 19 homers.
What I am saying is this, whether or not you like Dom Brown is irrelevant. What is relevant is that he has to be put in a position to succeed. He's 25-years-old, has a high ceiling, and has been given very little from the team in terms of votes of confidence or opportunity.
Domonic Brown was the player that you wouldn't trade for Roy Halladay. It's time to treat him like it.