What are the Philadelphia Phillies doing? They signed Delmon Young to a one-year, $750,000 contract Tuesday with the intention, GM Ruben Amaro said, of playing him every day in right field in 2013. There are several problems with this plan.
1. Young has not played right, at all, for even a pitch, since 2007. Young is not a good defensive outfielder at any spot (for example), but right field is said to be more difficult to play.
2. Young had surgery to remove bone spurs in one of his ankles in November and might start the season on the DL.
3. Ever since the Devil took him first overall in 2003, Young's production at the plate has been inconsistent at best. He broke through with an above-average performance with Minnesota in 2010, but other than that and a few highlights in the playoffs nobody should count on repeating, he's a below-average hitter. Young almost never walks, his career slugging percentage is .425 and he can't run. And he's often out of shape. He was last year. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel will be a huge factor here, of course. As a hitting coach, he probably will squeeze out Young's best. But the Phillies would be better off putting their confidence in other players.
4. The Phillies have nine outfielders on their 40-man roster (the highest-paid of which is Laynce Nix) and any of them would seem to be better (or at least equal) options to playing Young. Young's salary is low, which makes him appealing in a way. It's just that ... the problem is, he might play. Eternal prospect Domonic Brown's trade value continues to sink, as might his confidence, as the Phillies continue to find ways to keep him out of the lineup. It's a mystery, wrapped in riddle, inside an enigma, locked in a floor safe somewhere.
5. Young has a history of behavioral problems. Most recently, he pleaded guilty to aggravated harassment for an incident in New York that included Young's use of an antisemitic slur. Are there Jewish Phillies fans? Probably. But, they should know that Young seemed to regret the whole thing, including the racist language. Young also threw a bat at an umpire in the minor leagues this one time, but the statute of limitations of caring about that expired a while ago.
In Philly, all would be ignored/forgiven with neutral behavior off the field and career highs at the plate for Young, plus a return to the playoffs for the Phillies. But with the Fightins coming off an 81-81 season, along with the Nationals and Braves not likely to get stuck running in place, plus points 1-4 on Delmon's List here, well, good luck with all that.
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