The Things I Think: It’s Time for Domonic Brown

Why the Phillies need a spark plug. Plus: Some thoughts on Mike Vick and Cole Hamels' bare ass

I still think the Phillies are going to win the National League East and get to the World Series. But that doesn’t mean that in early July, as we head to the All-Star break, I can’t be exasperated by this team’s serious offensive anemia.

I see a team in need of some kind of transfusion.

Right now, as I type this blog, the Phillies have the same exact record they had at this time last year. And also the year before. Their team batting average right now is the same as it was last year and they wound up going back to the World Series. So what’s the problem? Run production. The Phils collective slugging percentage — a stat that measures total bases (singles, doubles, triples, home runs, but not walks) divided by total at bats — is way down from last year. Consequently, they have scored way fewer runs than in each of the previous two seasons. [SIGNUP]

Now, we can sit back and wait all we want. Yes the Phils are a second-half team. Yes they will get back Chase Utley and Placido Polanco eventually. Yes, guys like Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth are due to go on an offensive tear where they can carry a team for weeks at a time (and Jimmy Rollins will eventually find his swing after being idle for so long with a bum calf). But there comes a time where a team’s front office has to be proactive and try to change this curious (and annoying) lack of spark.

So it’s time to bring up Domonic Brown.

Brown, the Phils top prospect, is also considered by baseball scouting systems as the current number-one prospect in all of the minor leagues. In the first 12 games since his promotion to triple-A Lehigh Valley, Brown hit .405 with three doubles, four home runs and 11 RBI’s. If the Atlanta Braves can trust a prospect like Jason Hayward (who came to the big club from double-A ball), certainly the Phils can trust Brown. And they need to because there really are no other options.

The current dearth of prospects in the Phils minor league system probably means they can only make one trade — for some starting pitcher, which they desperately need if they want to be successful in the playoffs. That means they’re going to have to bite the bullet and try to compensate for the injuries to Polanco and Utley by platooning Greg Dobbs and Cody Ransom at third, with Wilson Valdez at second base. The only option for offensive help then would be Brown, a sleek, fast and powerful outfielder who could add production and energy to this moribund offensive situation.

Consider this: in 1980, the Phils were slogging along offensively. Greg Luzinski, who was making decent money as a team power hitter, was struggling mightily. Dallas Green, the manager, replaced him with rookie Lonnie Smith and it helped turn around the Phils season. Green didn’t care about the Bull’s feelings, nor paycheck, which is the same thing Charlie Manuel should be thinking about Raul Ibanez by replacing him with Brown. It’s not going to make Ruben Amaro happy that he’d be paying $11 million for a bench player in Ibanez. But these are desperate times.

Three Things That Make Me Laugh

1. The Michael Vick apologists who want to claim victory because Vick was ruled out as a suspect at his post 30th birthday party shooting. What, did anybody actually think that Vick aimed an Uzi out his window and shot Quanis Phillips like when Ricky got sprayed in the alley in Boys in the Hood?. Of course not. But is it a stretch to think that one of Mike’s peeps had the quarterback’s back that night after Q (a co-defendant in the dog fighting case who probably doesn’t appreciate the fact that Mike got his profession back while Q’s now just a ex-con) crashed the party, then slapped some cake off Vick’s girlfriend’s plate and it stained a few white suits? Any way you slice it, Mike Vick is an idiot for having a public party in a home area that previously created nothing but problems for the guy. You wade into an ocean littered with seaweed, aren’t you going to come out of the water draped in green slime?

2. Flyers fans who had absolutely no reaction to the team just giving away a player. Yep, Ryan Parent was once a promising young defenseman in the organ-I-zation. A couple of weeks back, general manager Paul Holmgren gave him away for the rights to free-agent-to-be defensive Dan Hamhuis. They couldn’t sign Hamhuis. Aren’t you supposed to figure that out before you make the deal? So they wound up trading Hamhuis for a draft pick. This Flyers thing in this town really confuses me. A move like this that would have happened with any other pro team in this city, fans would be outraged.

3.  Folks expressing outrage that Charlie Manuel chose Ryan Howard for the All-Star game and snubbed Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. Are you kidding me? Manuel’s supposed to care about Cincinnati fans, or pseudo-righteous sports talk hosts about snubbing Votto while he has to walk past his own player everyday in the clubhouse? That’s one of the privileges of being the manager of the All-Star team: you watch after your own. And you know why? Because it’s “your own” who got you in a position to manage the team in the first place by winning a pennant.

Parting Shot
A local television station faced some outrage from the Phillies last week. A TV camera from this station was shooting video of Jamie Moyer speaking on his outing that afternoon. Unbeknownst to the cameraman, the shot also included about three minutes worth of Cole Hamels bare ass in the background, as Cole was standing in front of his locker. I don’t think it’s that big a deal. After all, this TV station has an ass on camera every Sunday night on Sports Final anyway.

(For those of you who still haven’t seen my response to last week’s Philadelphia Magazine piece on sports talk radio, which did it’s best to portray me as a psycho, you can read it here. And you can read all of my previous posts here).