COMMENTARY | When Ruben Amaro Jr. took over as GM of the Phillies after the 2008 season he didn't simply inherit a team that had just won the World Series, he also inherited a fan base that had waited a quarter-century for a championship.
The core of the 2008 Phillies were all under 30 and in the prime of their careers, and Ruben saw the opportunity to do morere than just maintain a winning franchise. He spent millions of dollars and traded a myriad of prospects to acquire what he thought to be the missing pieces to a potential dynasty.
He was willing to trade any prospect except one: Domonic Brown.
In 2010 Brown was ranked 15th on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list - Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg and Mike (Giancarlo) Stanton were the Top 3 - and was poised to be the latest in a recent surge of Phillies prospects to make an impact.
A lot has happened since then. Some are Brown's fault, some are not. Regardless, it has been a kaleidoscope of expectations and inconsistency on his part and the organization.
When the Phillies traded for Cliff Lee in 2009, Brown wasn't involved.
When they traded for Roy Halladay before the 2010 season, Brown was "untouchable."
When they traded for Roy Oswalt at the 2010 trade deadline, Brown was still "untouchable."
Even in 2011, when it was an assumed certainty that Brown would have to be included in a trade for Hunter Pence, Brown remained a Phillie.
Somehow the Phillies managed to acquire four all-star caliber players without having to trade their top prospect. Is that an astounding display of business savvy? Or is it putting a lot of pressure on a 23-year-old?
Brown has spent parts of three seasons in the majors, barely eclipsing 50 games and 200 plate appearances in any one year. He played early in 2011 and hit .245 with 5 home runs and 19 RBI, but was sent down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley when the Phillies acquired Pence in July.
Last season, Brown was called up later in the season when the Phillies had fallen below .500 and put up similar numbers - .235 BA, 5 home runs, 26 RBI.
He's had opportunities, but it doesn't feel like the Phillies have ever given Brown a vote of confidence as a major league player despite being labeled "untouchable" several times.
In order to understand why Brown has never been given a firm commitment in the majors, you have to understand the Phillies were in an unprecedented era in 2011. They had a dominating rotation of Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt and Vance Worley, but the team's lineup was not living up to expectations.
Amaro had to make an upgrade. He gave Brown a shot in right field but his production just wasn't what he had hoped, and their opportunity to win would never be greater than it was in 2011. At the time, it was the right move. He couldn't let an undeveloped prospect get in the way of championship aspirations.
Now things are a different. The Phillies are not the favorites to win it all anymore, some question if they can even make the playoffs. They are looking up at the Braves and Nationals, and their core of Utley, Howard and Rollins are now in their mid-30's.
Some say it's a question of value, and if Amaro continues to keep Brown a prospect he can use his potential to keep his value high in case the day comes that he does decide to trade him. There may be some truth to that school of thought, but I don't exactly see anyone knocking down Amaro's door offering the farm for Brown.
For better or for worse, now is the time Amaro needs to give Brown a full season to find out if he is going to be a player worth protecting four times, or just an average outfielder.
In a society of evaporating patience and instant gratification, it would be wise for the Phillies to show some patience and confidence in a player they placed such high value on in the first place.
Jake Pavorsky summarized it well in his article for Philliedelphia.com: "It's disturbing that a player you refused to trade for Roy Halladay isn't being given a chance to start. It's even more disturbing that the organization is so willing to give up on him."
With expectations lowered, it's time for the Phillies to take some risks, starting with the guy who was too valuable to part with just three years ago.
Scott Lentz is an award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker from the Philadelphia area. He is a current contributor to Yahoo! Sports and TheGamingAdvisory.com. For questions, comments and more baseball talk, follow Scott on Twitter: @scottlentz27
All stats and figures courtesy of baseball-reference.com
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