Ruben Amaro Jr. seemed to be set with his young, unproven corner outfielders. As recent as a few weeks okay it seemed as if the Phillies were staying put with Ben Revere in center and a platoon of Babe Ruf, Mayberr Jr., Dom Brown and Nix at the corner spots. I had expressed my opinion in a previous blog that I was "comfortable" and optimistic with Ruf and Dom Brown holding down the corner spots. With the signing of Delmon Young on wednesday the Phillies have added a new outfielder to the mix. Young provides some much needed right handed power to a lefty heavy lineup. I still believe Babe Ruf can provide another righty power bat and has the potential to make a significant impact with the big league club.
It's hard to believe that with less than a month before pitchers and catchers report the Phils could snag an ALCS MVP, and at such a bargain. The 27 year old outfielder hit .267 last season with Detroit, with 27 doubles, 18 hrs, and 74 rbis. In 13 playoff games for the A.L. Champion Tigers Young hit .313 with 3 hrs and 9 rbis, a team-high.
Young will make $750,000 this season with the Phillies after making $6.75 million last season. It is a low-risk, high-reward move with a guy who has had his off the field issues. He was suspended for 7 days in 2012 for aggrevated harrassment and assault.
Currently on the Phillies depth chart, on the team website, Young is listed as the starting right fielder with Ben Revere in center and Dom Brown in left. Rube has already been quoted as saying Young will play RF. He hasn't played right field since 2007 with the Rays. He started 29 games in left last season with the Tigers, mostly used as a DH. Young could potentially bat 5th behind Ryan Howard in Charlie Manuel's lineup card.
The signing of Delmon Young is no doubt a very good move, a great bargain. It provides the Phillies with options and depth in the outfield, as well as another right handed bat. Ben Revere is most likely cemented in center. With the addition of Young the corner outfielder positions just got a little more cloudy.
Keep in mind Young is working himself back from microfracture surgery performed on his ankle on November 10th. The projected recovery is up to 16 weeks which would keep him out of Spring Training and possibly on the DL to start the season. The thought of Ruf starting the year down at Lehigh Valley bccause of the Young signing doesn't look likely. I still see Ruf and Dom Brown in the starting lineup come April 1st in Atlanta.
Young is an above average defender and isn't leaps and bounds ahead of Ruf, who is still learning left field, and an average defender in Dom Brown. Brown and Ruf will both have to prove they can be consistent bats and defenders for Manuel and prove they belong. They will most likely be fighting for that left field spot when Delmon Young is ready to return. I wouldnt be shocked to see Ruf spend some time at Lehigh but I think he deserves a chance to prove himself with the big league club. 38 homeruns in double A last season is enough in my book to warrant that. John Mayberry Jr.'s ability to play all 3 outfield positions makes him a commodity you can't really part with.
My outfield projections for 2013:
Opening Day April 1st: Darin Ruf LF, Ben Revere CF, Dom Brown RF
When Delmon Young returns: Darin Ruf LF, Ben Revere CF, Delmon Young RF
While competition is good, I am not the biggest fan of a platoon. I don't know if Charlie will want to carry 6 outfielders on the 25 man roster. Dom Brown may again be the odd man out. I like Brown and think he deserves one last chance to see if he belongs but personally I am more intrigued by seeing what Darin Ruf can bring to the team.