Ryne Sandberg shuffled into the Phillies press room and rattled off the day's highlights. He praised A.J. Burnett's stuff vs. Marlins, saying he could have thrown a shutout.
"Misread ball in left field," he went into next without hesitation. "Domonic started in three or four steps and then got beat over his head."
The misfire gave the Marlins a run, cost the Phillies the game, and created a heartbreaking scene following it as Brown found A.J. Burnett to deliver an apology. The issue of Brown's defense has reached the point where instead of merely asking about the play in question, Sandberg now has to answer questions about Brown's future.
When asked what the plan with Brown is going forward, Ryno gave a long pause and said "Go to tomorrow and figure out a lineup." #Phillies— Stephen Gross (@SteveGrossMCall) June 26, 2014
It was an ugly play; Dom rushed in, stopped suddenly, then sort of desperately launched himself into the air at a ball several feet out of his reach. To a far lesser extent, I can say I know what that play feels like. By the end of my playing career, I was listing my position as "outfield" simply because I knew the infield was definitely not an option. My confidence would be at a reasonable level, until a ball was hit in the air toward me, when I'd suddenly realize that it is impossible for a human being to judge where something in midair is going to land.
Brown's not Ben Revere; he can't misjudge a ball and then teleport over to it, just in time to hurl his body into a wall. He's also not Marlon Byrd, and hasn't been making up for a lack of speed or defensive acumen with offense.
With Brown's sloppy defense, Revere's frequent disappearances, and Byrd moving from the "wise old veteran" to the "trade bait" era of his Phillies career, the outfield has never looked less stable. When something doesn't work and starts costing games, the instinct is to fix it. But as Matt Gelb of the Inquirer points out,
The Domonic Brown issue has a few layers. The most important: There is no one else to play left field.— Matt Gelb (@magelb) June 26, 2014
A season removed from his best ever - though certainly not without its down points either - Brown's bat isn't even making up for his defensive lapses, hitting .217 with a .593 OPS. In May, last year's most dominant month for him, he could barely make it out of the on-deck circle, hitting .146 with 18 K's in 95 plate appearances.
That Ryno image up top tells us all we need to know for the moment: Sometimes, all you can do is look on in horror.
And other times, you make a change.
Phillies tonight. Brown sits. pic.twitter.com/JrkXk5FZFa— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) June 26, 2014