When the Phillies announced the signing of Delmon Young Tuesday, there was much fury amongst the fans, for they were none-too-please with the deal that brought a defensively challenged outfielder with a mediocre bat and a plethora of character issues to the city of Philadelphia.
The one-year deal is worth $750K, but could exceed $3 million thanks to certain performance incentives. From a pure cost standpoint, there are worst things that you can get for that amount of money. After all, Young does have the ability to hit for power from the right side, and on top of that, is only 27 years old.
Unfortunately, that's about it for the good news, because while he can provide some power at a low cost, he's also plays bad defense, can't run the bases very well, is coming off ankle surgery, and last season was the proud owner of a .296 on-base percentage. He is also infamous for throwing his bat at an umpire in 2006, and getting suspended for an anti-Semitic altercation in New York City during last season.
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On top of all that, Young doesn't have a high enough ceiling to really make a difference when you factor in his defensive liability, even at such a low cost. His best season, to date, was in 2010, when he hit .298/.333/.493 with 21 homers for the Minnesota Twins. That's not a bad season, but an .826 OPS from a corner outfielder who can't play defense isn't worth getting excited over.
Young also stands to potentially take at-bats away from both Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf, two youngsters who can only benefit from receiving more playing time. Although both of those players need to prove they can play every day, there is no harm in the Phillies seeing what they have in their young outfielders outside of spring training. But for this blogger, giving an at-bat to Young instead of either Brown or Ruf is a mistake.
According to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., Young figures to spend most of his time in right-field, despite the fact that he's played a season's worth of games there (and not since 2007), compared to 544 games in left -- a move which pretty much forces Brown to move to left field, where his stronger arm and greater amount of athleticism will not be utilized properly.
The Phillies are already behind the eight-ball heading into the 2013 season, so I don't see the benefit of signing a guy who can't get on base as a way to improve the offense. I think they'd be far better off giving Brown and Ruf a chance to prove themselves, rather than give playing time to Young, who hasn't proven much of anything over the course of his career.
The silver lining to his signing is that, ultimately, it doesn't cost very much money, and that Young can be cut loose if he turns out to be a disaster. Less than a decade ago, Young was once considered to be the best prospect in baseball. Let's hope he can realize that potential in 2013.