Rich Hofmann: It's time for Phillies to see what Domonic Brown can do

Posted: July 22, 2010

THIS IS NOT Jayson Werth's fault. It is entirely reasonable to expect that he will unfunk himself pretty soon and hit about .280 the rest of the way with reasonable power numbers from the right side. Even 24 hours ago, it made sense just to wait this thing out, this Great Phillies Malaise of 2010, and allow the law of averages to do its powerful work - on Werth, on all of them.

No longer, though - not since Jamie Moyer grabbed his elbow in the first inning on Tuesday night in St. Louis.

Calling Domonic Brown . . .

The Phillies' current predicament is not all Werth's fault - is not, underlined. He was uberhot at the beginning of the season, when the Phillies got off to a great start, and he deserves as much credit for that as he deserves blame for the backsliding of the last 2 months.

The truth is, just going by batting averages, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley - or at least a couple of them - are likely to have noticeably better Augusts and Septembers (unless the whole reversion-to-the-mean thing has been repealed for everybody wearing red pinstripes in 2010). They're likely to come up, Werth is likely to stabilize, and the overall pitching was good enough - or, rather, all-right enough - that it was possible to make the case that bench-and-bullpen tinkering was the right way to go as the trade deadline approaches.

No more, though. Because now the Phillies absolutely need to make a big pitching move and it is hard to see it being accomplished without somehow moving Werth.

Calling Domonic Brown . . .

Be not afraid . . .

The problem with evaluating the Phillies has been that it is hard to decide what is typical. It really has been such a screwy year, with the injuries just exacerbating the screwiness on offense. But the starting pitching is another matter entirely. Roy Halladay obviously skews the numbers violently to the good. Cole Hamels has been fine. But the other three - Moyer, Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick - have rocketed between extremes, rarely settling into normalcy.

As the season evolved, it became more and more clear that J.A. Happ was going to have to come back from his arm injury and be effective - that it wasn't possible to expect all three of those guys to find a consistent rhythm (or, in Moyer's case, to continue his overall good work for a full season).

The more you saw, the more it seemed that Happ was going to have to take Kendrick's spot and that Moyer was going to have to somehow find a way to replicate his best work of the first half into the stretch run of another pennant race.

Now, though - after Moyer grabbed his elbow - that can no longer be the expectation. They needed Happ all along and now they also need somebody better, a third starter behind Halladay and Hamels upon whom they can count for some level of consistency - Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren, Brett Myers, Ben Sheets, you've seen the names.

An acquisition has to happen if the Phillies are to identify themselves as serious about making the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, and it is hard to see how they can do it without moving Werth - all of which would open up a spot for Brown and turn up the volume on the Hallelujah Chorus.

The truth is, we all want to see him. The truth also is that nobody can argue that Brown is being rushed here, not by today's standards. While none of us can honestly pretend to know how Brown might perform at the start, there is nothing to fear here. The lineup is loaded with veterans. This is on them and everybody knows it.

His youth, or inexperience, or whatever, is not an impediment. Neither is the fact that Brown's will be just one more lefthanded bat added to a lineup that is already too-lefthanded now, especially at the power positions. The '93 Phillies were about as lefthanded as a team could be - six of the eight regular starters were lefties and another two were switch-hitters - and did just fine (although they did have significant righthanded power in Dave Hollins and Pete Incaviglia). It isn't ideal but we are not talking about ideal anymore. We are talking about a team approaching a hands-and-knees battle for a wild-card spot, in all likelihood.

You do what you have to do. After the first inning on Tuesday night, that meant Domonic Brown.

Send e-mail to hofmanr@phillynews.com,

or read his blog, The Idle Rich, at

http://go.philly.com/theidlerich.

For recent columns go to

http://go.philly.com/hofmann.

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