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Free John Mayberry



    There wasn't a whole lot of positives to take away from Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Braves, at least, not unless you're John Mayberry, Jr.

    The outfielder was a the lone bright spot in the Phillies lineup, when he turned in a 1-for-2 performance that netted him two walks and a two-run homer that temporarily gave the Phillies a lead against Braves' starter Tim Hudson.

    It was the kind of performance that should earn Mayberry a starting job with the Phillies. At least, that's what I uttered to myself no less than a half a dozen times as most of the offense fell on their face in the 3-2 loss.

    Mayberry was inserted into the lineup to spell the struggling Ben Francisco, who is hitting .094 (3-for-32) in his last 11 games, and .205 since April 17th, and responded with gusto by showcasing his power, while being one of the only Phils to display any sort of discipline at the plate.

    But aside from his performance in Sunday's game, Mayberry's inclusion in the everyday lineup has been a long time coming, given how poorly Francisco and Raul Ibanez (.239/.296/.359) have been playing.

    Through Sunday, Mayberry is hitting .295/.415/.500 with a pair of homers and seven RBIs in 44 at-bats. It's a small sample size to be sure, and while he certainly isn't going to be the savior of the offense until Chase Utley and Domonic Brown return, it would take an incredible amount of ineptitude for him to provide less value to the lineup than either Ibanez or Francisco.

    And it's no secret that the Phillies could desperately use a fresh bat in the lineup. With the exception of the top of the order, it's been nothing but disappointment and a lot of stranded baserunners from the five through eight hitters.

    But how likely is this change to occur? Mayberry has certainly earned a few more starts thanks to Shane Victorino being sidelined thanks to a hamstring injury, but what happens when he gets back on the field? Charlie Manuel is notoriously loyal to his players -- almost to a fault -- which could mean that he sticks with both Ibanez and Francisco, no matter how long their troubles continue.

    Mayberry is all of 27-years-old and can still be considered to have some potential, but he's had very few opportunities to break into the outfield since he came to the team in 2009, when he hit .211/.250/.474 split as a full time and bench player. But with Jayson Werth in Washington, Domonic Brown rehabbing in the minors, and Ibanez and Francisco giving away at-bats, there has never been a better opportunity to see what Mayberry can do.

    Although the Phillies have scrapped as of late, they are still sporting the National League's best record and are continuing to win games, in spite of the poor performances from every starting outfielder not named Shane Victorino, so there is quite literally no risk in handing over the reigns to Mayberry in right field until he proves that he can't handle the job.