Top Philadelphia Phillies prospect Domonic Brown was taken off the Disabled List today and optioned to Triple A after a week long rehabilitation stint at Single A Clearwater.
At first glance, the move seems to make sense. Brown is expected to play right field for the Phillies and battled Ben Francisco throughout the Spring for the starting job. Since the season began, Francisco has played well in right, accumulating a .793 OPS while getting on base more than 35% of the time.
However, when you look over to the other side of Phillies outfield, you’ll find Raul Ibanez. Among players with at least 82 plate appearances, the veteran left fielder has the worst WAR in the entire league and ranks fourth lowest in wOBA, second lowest in SLG and the second lowest in batting average. It’s true that he had a bad start last year and ended up turning it around, but his awfulness this season is truly epic.
As Big League Stew points out, Ibanez has gone 34 straight at bats without a hit. The record for such inabilities belongs to Brooklyn’s Bill Bergen, “who went 46 straight at bats in 1909 without recording a hit of any kind.”
Surely Domonic Brown could do better than that. And shifting Francisco to left shouldn’t be a problem considering he’s played more innings there than in right field anyway. The only justification I can think of is that coming into this year, Brown had 68 days of service time. His time on the Disabled List would’ve added to this total, and if he doesn’t spend any time in the Minors over the next two years, he will almost assuredly become a Super Two ahead of 2013 season, if such things even exist then.
Other than that, I don’t know what the hold up in bringing Brown up is, especially given Ibanez’s struggles.