The Philadelphia Phillies need to apply what has been learned during the past three seasons as they prepare for 2013 and beyond.
Domonic Brown might be coming around
Since his recall from Triple-A, Brown has appeared in 16 games. He has a .255 batting average and a .658 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage).
No one knows how this soon-to-be 25-year-old, who is playing in his seventh season of professional baseball, will perform in the long run. Playing in generally meaningless games this August and September is different than being a main ingredient in some future playoff mix.
Casually referring to the more disciplined approach that Brown seems to be taking at the plate doesn't accurately define his maturity, but referencing some of his numbers can help to support an early assessment. He struck out 24 times (34 %) in 70 plate appearances with the Phillies in 2010 and 35 times (17%) in 210 plate appearances in 2011. Through 63 plate appearances this season, he has only struck out five times (8%).
The minor league defensive experiment in his regard also seems to be paying some dividends. Allowing him to spend time at every Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs' outfield position appears to have helped Brown restore confidence in his glove work.
The superb leaping catch that he made in foul territory last night against the Milwaukee Brewers stands on its own. The grand slam ball that he couldn't stop simply showed that he needs to maintain focus on timing plays, so that blasts like the one Corey Hart hit can be secured in the future.
Brown strikes me as a humble guy who sincerely wants to reboot his major league dream. Other prospects can learn from his dedicated example.
Juan Pierre's old school cool
Last night, the great radio duo of Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen mentioned that every Phillies' player holds Pierre in the highest regard.
There wasn't much fanfare when this veteran signed a modest one-year free agent contract in January. Seen as someone who might not even make the team, Pierre produced a solid spring training effort and has been hitting ever since then.
He had another multiple-hit game (2-5) yesterday, has a .308 batting average, and 29 stolen bases for the season. While his .722 OPS isn't great, the man has definitely helped his team's offense this season.
People who were lulled into a false sense of reality during the 'steroid era' view players like Pierre in condescending ways. Any team that is filled with players like him has a chance to win.
Projecting baseball wisdom on the field, rather than empty bravado, creates a fundamental base for success to begin. The brain (not just brawn) determines how bad, good, or great any major leaguer can be.
Inexpensive veterans like Pierre can prove to be very valuable. A contract like his ($800,000 this year) also allows for room to remain on the payroll to fill other in-season needs.
Bridging the gap
Brown and Pierre represent the type of generational choices that the Phillies need to make moving forward.
This team still has a strong core of starting pitchers, a good closer and some other sharp positional players. General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. needs to create additional opportunities for young players to make the 2013 opening day roster and must also add the right veteran compliments to his squad. It can also be said that managerial and coaching staff matters are sure to be reviewed as well.
Getting the biggest names, at the highest prices didn't create another World Series championship after 2008. It's time to pursue a smarter path, so that perennial playoff seasons might sprout once again at Citizens Bank Park.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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