Charlie Manuel has never been known as a tremendous linguist.
In fact, ‘ol Cholly dun talk real good, ya know?
Which is why an extended interview with the Phils’ skipper can sometimes end up looking like a mangled car wreck along the side of I-95.
Today at the Winter Meetings, Manuel conducted such an interview. And unfortunately, Domonic Brown happened to unwittingly be riding shotgun.
In the interview, Manuel was asked if he would like to see Darin Ruf and Domonic Brown enter the season as two of his starting outfielders. His response?
You know something, for me to say – I think I’m sending a bad message if I say that I don’t want them. I do want them. I want them to be the best players in baseball, but at the same time, like I think we’re asking them a whole lot, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t do it.
Now, if we’re willing to go to Spring Training and play them and when the season starts, put them out there and play them, I won’t argue against that. But at the same time, for us to win our division and if we want to have a good chance, then more likely, if we could, we need to have more confidence in what we can get that are regular players.
So, what you have here, aside from Manuel’s questionable grasp of conversational english, is a clear indication that Manuel doubts Ruf and/or Brown are starting outfielders. And it certainly appears as if Manuel has no confidence whatsoever in Domonic Brown.
If I could translate what Charlie said, it was something along the lines of, “I really don’t think this Brown kid is worthy of a starting spot on this team. However, if we’re unable to land a corner outfielder worth a damn, we’re probably going to have to start him, and I’d rather not crush his soul while that remains a possibility.”
The debate over Dom Brown has been going on for three years now. Once the #4 prospect in all of baseball, Brown’s career has been star-crossed, to say the least. He’s had trouble staying healthy, was jerked around by the organization numerous times, and simply hasn’t performed well when he has played in the Majors.
|162 Game Avg.||162||542||477||63||112||26||3||13||64||6||2||56||102||.236||.315||.388||.703||90|
Brown has yet to play more than 56 games in a single season. However, over the course of three seasons and 147 career games, Brown’s numbers are not impressive.
He’s a career .236/.315/.388 hitter with 12 HRs, 58 RBIs, and 24 2Bs in 492 plate appearances.
There are those who think Brown still has the plate discipline, youth, and power potential to be a solid Major League player. There are others who are ready to give up on him.
Charlie seems to be in the latter camp.
Now, to be fair, Manuel also included Ruf in his damning comment. However, Charlie also said something very surprising and supportive of the young slugger.
“I think that he – like I said, I think he’s hit himself into a chance to getting into the big leagues. That’s what Thome did. That’s what all those guys when I was over in Cleveland did. Every one of those guys, they produced in the minor leagues, at the minor league level, and that’s how they got a shot.
They were players just like Ruf, but Ruf happens to be 25 where some of them were younger now, but at the same time, he’s hit his way through the minor leagues. He’s hit at every level he’s played, and he showed – at the end of the year, he showed me that he handled good pitching when he played at the end of the year.
Q. Would you be shocked if he hit 30 home runs this year?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Not at all.”
So, Charlie thinks Ruf could hit 30 HRs next year. One wonders if he feels the same thing about Brown. He certainly didn’t indicate that today.
Of course, perhaps Manuel misspoke and didn’t mean for things to sound the way they did. Maybe he loves Brown and thinks he’s going to be a good player.
But the way the Phils have handled Domonic Brown over the last couple years makes me think otherwise.
At the end of the day, a change of scenery might be the best thing for everybody.