If We Need a Replacement for Victorino, It Should Be Mayberry

I know some have appropriately compared me to Ellen Ripley from the Alien movies when it comes to being protective of Domonic Brown, but I don't mean to be that way. There are limits to my protectiveness, and I can certainly see circumstances in which I would relent. But if Shane Victorino has to go on the DL because of his oblique strain, that is not one of those circumstances. Brown still should not get the call - it should go to John Mayberry.

The reason is simple. Other than Shane, we currently have five guys on our roster who can play the outfield: Raul Ibanez, Jayson Werth, Ben Francisco, Ross Gload, and Greg Dobbs. Only two of those guys (Werth and Francisco) are righthanded hitters. Ibanez has hit lefties decently in the past, although he has struggled against them in a small sample this year. Gload and Dobbs have never been able to hit lefties, and they should not get any at-bats against them this year under any circumstances.

If you bring Brown up now, then either Ibanez or Brown will have to play in every game vs. lefties. I think the right choice would have to be Ibanez, but whatever - either way, this cuts against giving Brown the call. If Ibanez gets the at-bats, then Brown will be sitting a lot, which will be bad for his development. If Brown gets the at-bats, then you're throwing a green kid to the wolves in the middle of a pennant race. Brown has a .673 MLE OPS vs. lefties this year. That isn't terrible, but still, there isn't any good reason for making him hit against real-life major league lefties at this time.

Now, I'm sure Brown would perform creditably against righties. But will he hit that much better than Ross Gload? Believe it or not, Gload's OPS this year is higher than Brown's MLE OPS vs. righties. If Brown won't hit much better than Gload, then what's the upside to bringing him up? And how can that upside possibly be enough to offset the downside of either (1) having to sit him frequently against lefties, or (2) having him get killed by major league lefties under the pressure of a pennant race?

No, the right answer is to bring up John Mayberry. Even though Mayberry is nowhere near the prospect that Brown is (some might even argue that Mayberry isn't a prospect at all), he is, at the very least, a righthanded batter. To be fair, Mayberry hasn't actually done all that great against lefties for Lehigh Valley, either in 2009 or 2010. But he hasn't been any worse than Brown. And he was was good against them both in 2008 while he was in the Rangers system, and in a very small sample at the major league level last season.

At the very least, Mayberry probably won't do worse than Brown against lefties, and he could do better. Also, as far as I know, Mayberry isn't any worse at fielding than Brown (though I could be wrong). And finally, we don't have to worry about any detrimental effects on Mayberry's development, since he isn't very important to our future. Contrast this with Brown, who is so important to our future that our entire franchise could succeed or fail in a couple of years depending on how he turns out.

If the suddenly-hot Raul Ibanez had been the one to get hurt, then my conclusion might have been different. But he wasn't the one to get hurt, Victorino was. Basically, there is no really good solution for an injury to Shane. Under those circumstances, we should at least pick the option with the lowest long-term risk. That option is to give Mayberry a shot and hope against all hope that Shane recovers soon.

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