Is Delmon Young the Answer in Right Field?

Is Delmon Young the Answer in Right Field?

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Turns out Ruben Amaro wasn’t finished making moves after
all. After leading everybody to believe there would likely be
competitions/platoons at both corner outfield positions, the Phillies’ general
manager signed free agent Delmon Young to a one-year contract on Tuesday. He is
already penciled in to start in right field.

The addition came as a bit of a surprise, as Young never
really seemed to be on the club’s radar while option after option was scooped
off the market. From Josh Hamilton to Nick Swisher and everybody in between,
Young’s name seldom if ever was mentioned. Then Amaro indicated Domonic Brown,
John Mayberry, Laynce Nix, and Darin Ruf would battle it out for two spots.

Now it seems there is only one, as long as Young can produce
anyway. Amaro admitted there are no guarantees for the 27-year-old right hander,
who signed an incentive-laden deal worth a base salary of $750,000. That said, RAJ
did nothing to try to hide the fact that the organization is hopeful he can
start.

There is no question that Young brings tremendous upside to
the table. He was made the first overall pick of the 2003 draft by the Tampa
Bay Rays, the runner-up for American League Rookie of the Year in ’07. He was
traded to the Minnesota Twins, and had a season there in 2010 that garnered
some attention in Most Valuable Player voting. The Twins shipped him to the
Detroit Tigers, where he became the AL Championship Series MVP last season.

Young’s career lacks a consistent trajectory however, so
projecting success with the Phillies is tough. He’s been prone to slow starts, and
there are plenty of warning signs when it comes to character.

We know the things that Young does not do well though. He’s ranked
46th among qualifying active Major League players with a .284 average, yet he
draws so few walks, his lifetime on-base percentage is only a marginally-higher
.317. He also tends to ground into a lot of double plays. And then there’s his
defense – Young finished in the top five for outfielder errors a whopping four
times in the AL in six full seasons.

Which is not to suggest he has nothing to offer – nothing could
be further from the truth actually. Young offers a solid right-handed bat with
that much sought-after pop, and is capable of getting on white hot stretches
like he did in the 2012 ALCS and World Series. In the final eight games of the
postseason, Young hit .355 with five runs, three home runs, and seven RBI.

Jim Salisbury adds that Young has been playing out of
position in left field
for most of his career. It’s true that he has a higher
field percentage in right (.985) than everywhere else combined (.976).

This seems like the very definition of low risk, high
reward. If it doesn’t work out, or one of the other candidates is simply
outplaying him, the Phillies aren’t out an investment or even very much money.
On the other hand, if he gives them a .290 season with 20 home runs like he’s
capable of, Young could be a very valuable asset for the club this season.

As always, time will tell, but it’s better than doing
nothing.

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Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

After an 0-for-5 day at the plate, Odubel Herrera isn't heading to the bench a day later.

He's leading off. 

Pete Mackanin chose to move the slumping centerfielder atop the lineup card for Friday's series opener against the Reds despite Herrera's striking out in all five plate appearances Thursday.

"I think he's a .290-plus hitter as a leadoff man and I'm not going to sit him," Mackanin said pregame. "He needs to battle his way out. You figure you're the leadoff hitter once a game. After that, it's wide open."

While he hasn't batted leadoff this season, Herrera spent the majority of his time in that spot last season. In 76 games there, he batted .285 with a .359 OBP and .417 slugging percentage. 

The leadoff hitter this season has been Cesar Hernandez, who has a day off with a groin pull he's dealt with the last 10 days. Herrera primarily has been the No. 3 hitter this season and his average is down to .226 with 49 strikeouts to just 11 walks. 

Mackanin hopes the leadoff role can help change Herrera's approach at the plate.

"He was drawing a lot of walks at leadoff, so whether he has that mindset or not, I'm not sure," the manager said. "I just want to get him as many at-bats as possible. We need to get him going. We need him and [Maikel] Franco to get going."

May specifically has been tough on Herrera. He has four hits in his last 36 at-bats and has seven strikeouts in his last two games. He has just seven hits in 22 games this month. 

"I think he's at the point where he's grinding and sometimes when you grind, sometimes there's that feeling where you get lost," Mackanin said. "I've been in situations as a hitter where I've gone up to the plate saying, 'I don't care where it is. I'm going up there and just hacking.' Because you start thinking and that's not working.

"And you look for a pitch and then all of a sudden you say I'm going to take a pitch to get a look at and it's strike one. Then he throws you a nasty slider and that's strike two and your plan is out the window. So I've gone up to the plate myself saying, 'I'm just looking down the middle and swinging. I'm not thinking.'"

When asked, Mackanin said the team had not discussed demoting Herrera or Franco to the minors to take pressure off the duo.

While Herrera tries to hit his way back into a groove, Howie Kendrick is in the midst of working his way back to the majors. He was hit by pitch twice in a rehab appearance Thursday but is back in the lineup Friday in left field. 

Mackanin said Kendrick needed four days minimum in his rehab assignment and will therefore play Friday and Saturday before the team sees how he feels.

The manager also said the team would give more playing time to backup catcher Andrew Knapp. He started consecutive games for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"I'm going to try and see him as much as possible and keep him as sharp as possible instead of once a week," Mackanin said. "That's tough to hit, once a week. It's tough to hit twice a week if you don't hit back-to-back. There's no ulterior motive."

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

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Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is in Australia this week, where he has accused longtime friend and former Australian men's national team assistant coach Shane Heal of defrauding him of $750,000, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Brown invested $250,000 into each of three companies for which Heal was the sole director. Brown wasn't given a legal title regarding the companies and didn't know the specifics of how the money would be used.

"I assumed that the money was going to be used for what Shane told me it was going to be used for," Brown said. "Because it was a friend that I had for 25 years."

Heal was charged last year by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission following an investigation relating to alleged misconduct in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the AAP.

The sides return to court in Brisbane on July 20.

Heal played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996-97 and was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.