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Phillies Sign Delmon Young: What is the impact?

Today, the Phillies signed Delmon Young to a one-year deal worth $750k, with incentives that can increase the value to $3.5M.  That fairly small deal says a lot about the Phillies outfield.  We’ll dive into that below the jump.

The Phillies signed Delmon Young to be their new RF.(By User Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "AAAA7200") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

The Phillies signed Delmon Young to be their new RF.
(By User Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “AAAA7200″) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

At first glance, it looks like Young is being brought in to help add depth and competition to Clearwater.  But looking closer, there’s a lot more going on.

First, Young is coming off a November ankle surgery, and may not be able to participate in Spring Training.  He may even have to open the season on the disabled list.  Regardless, it looks like he won’t be doing much “competing” in Clearwater.

But the really telling piece of information—the one that goes layers and layers deep—is Ruben Amaro, Jr.’s comment that he expects Young to be the starting rightfielder.

Say what?!

Let’s look at all that this statement means, on all the levels.

1)   Amaro has little-to-no faith in the four-pack of corner outfielders currently on the roster.

Let’s compare the 162-game MLB averages of the four + Young.  (*Ruf’s projection is based off a small, 33 at-bat sample).

Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 6.56.06 PM

And if you want to look at WAR: In 7 seasons, Young has been worth 0.7 wins total according to Baseball-Reference.com.Before we dig into counting stats, note that Young’s numbers are based on an additional 150-200 ABs.  That said,(and ignoring Ruf’s insane projection), Young has a decent, but surmountable edge in doubles, RBI and AVG.  But more telling statistics—such as AB/HR and OBP+ indicate Young is a slight improvement offensively.  When you factor in defense, he’s equal at best.

So, Young’s put up a strong season or two in the past—but the other Phillies (sans Nix) have greater potential.  There’s no reason to guarantee Young a position, unless you don’t believe in the current group.

2)   John Mayberry, Jr. has zero chance of starting for the Phillies in 2013.

Brown could be the odd-man-out with the signing of Young.(By http://www.flickr.com/photos/aon/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/aon/5778686243/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Brown could be the odd-man-out with the signing of Young.
(By http://www.flickr.com/photos/aon/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/aon/5778686243/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

Young is such a bad outfielder, the Tigers only let him in the field for 31 games last year—and he only played 11 complete games.  When Young did see the field, he was banished to left, where he could hurt the team the least.  Mayberry, on the other hand, is a solid outfielder who can play all three outfield positions.  If both were to start, Mayberry should be the clear choice to play right, with Young in left.  If Young plays right, Mayberry is riding the pine pony.

3)   There’s a good chance one of these four outfielders aren’t really in the Phillies plans for this year.

It’s unlikely the Phillies carry six outfielders, when the infield is where the team is aging and injury-prone.  They need to carry at least two infielders and a catcher (at least in this bloggers opinion), leaving two reserve outfield spots, unless they go very light on the bullpen (not a wise plan).  With Revere, and apparently Young, guaranteed starting spots, that leaves four outfielders for three spots.  That means either one (Brown, Ruf) goes to AAA or one of the four gets traded or cut.

4)   Charlie Manuel might not have as much say over his team as a World Series-winning manager should.

It sounds almost like an order that Amaro plans for Young to be the starter.  A guy with those numbers—which don’t stand out against the competition—and is coming off an injury and a horrible season, and might not see an at bat in March, doesn’t get handed a starting spot.  Charlie is loyal and gives his players a chance to earn their spots.  That doesn’t sound like the case with Young.  Is this a power play by Amaro—a sign that Charlie is on the hot seat?—or is the manager as on-board with Young as the GM?  Something tells me it’s the former.

If Young and Revere are guaranteed starters, who do you think gets the leftfield job?

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