Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers Phils fans’ questions
There is none, unless there is an injury or Mayberry and Nix don’t perform. Unless things change, Brown is expected to play the 2012 season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he will be looking to regain confidence and learning to play left field.
Nothing really has gone smoothly with Brown the past couple of seasons. The Phillies admittedly erred in the way they have handled him (bringing him up in 2010, only to spend most of the second half of the season sitting on the bench).
Brown performed poorly in winter ball following that season and started slowly in Spring Training 2011 before breaking his hand. He was playing great with Lehigh Valley early last season, when the Phils called him up (after saying they didn’t think he was ready). He did OK, relatively speaking, but once the Phillies acquired Pence and optioned Brown to Lehigh Valley, he struggled.
The Phils are hoping a full season in the Minors will get Brown back on track. Maybe it will, but if Mayberry and Nix perform well in left, I would think Brown could be trade bait at some point.
If Ryan Madson does not come back, where do you think he will sign and why are the Phillies disinterested in him? — Daniel S., Pinellas Park, Fla.
Who said they’re disinterested in Madson? I’m sure general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would love to have Madson as his setup man, but would Madson come back to set up for Jonathan Papelbon? If I’m Madson, I’m not sure I would. But if Madson can’t get a closer job at closer money, maybe he would come back to a place he’s familiar and set up before hitting the market again next offseason. But I’m betting Madson will take his services elsewhere before Spring Training.
Is Chase Utley healthy this year? — Janet X., Harrisburg, Pa.
The Phillies said late last season that Utley, who had knee issues last year, will be on a different offseason training program that should allow him to strengthen his legs without causing the tendinitis that forced him to miss the first couple of months of the 2011 season. They said that lack of strength in his lower half contributed to his lack of pop at the plate. Will he be the old Utley in 2012, one of the best offensive performers in the game? I’m not sure, but they certainly need him to play much better than he did last season.
How can you argue the Phillies can only get younger at two positions when they have an aging and oft-injured third baseman? — Bob P., Renovo, Pa.
Got lots of questions over the past week about third base, the David Wright rumors, how much they can expect to get from Polanco. Those are good questions, but some of the questions are almost like, “What’s the Phillies’ problem? Why won’t they get David Wright?” Like it were easy. Like Amaro can get Wright (or another stud third baseman) by just snapping his fingers. The Phils would love Wright at third base, but it’s not going to happen right now. The club has said Polanco should be healthy entering the season. If he is, he’s a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman than hits better than .300. That’s not exactly chopped liver.
Do you think the Phillies will hit a wall and not win the National League East? — Steven B., Cheltenham, Pa.
The NL East has improved, but I still think the Phils will] win their sixth straight division title. If everybody is healthy, of course. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels will win their fair share of games. The offense, which has flopped the previous two postseasons, has been productive during the season. I just don’t see how anybody could catch them.
The bench seems to have gained some much needed depth this year. What impact will this have on the 2012 Phillies? — Zack K., Clarks Summit, Pa.
It gives manager Charlie Manuel more options. If Polanco misses time, Manuel can play Ty Wigginton at third instead of Michael Martinez. When Ryan Howard is out, the Phillies can play Mayberry, Nix, Wigginton or even Jim Thome. They should be able to handle injuries a little better than they have in the past, while not sacrificing as much offense in the process.
Do you see any offensive options the Phillies could pursue at the Trade Deadline, like David Wright or a left fielder? — Jim D., Tabernacle, N.J.
Whoa. We’re already looking at the Trade Deadline? It’s a long way from July 31. Like I mentioned above, I’ve gotten lots of questions about third base, left field, etc. There were similar questions last year at this time about right field, and how the Phillies were going to replace Jayson Werth. The Phils decided they would give Ben Francisco, Brown and Mayberry a shot. If it worked, great. If not, then they could always find somebody else.
I think the same holds true this year. Why not see if Polanco can stay healthy? Why not see if Mayberry and Nix can platoon in left field? If they can’t, they can always try to find somebody else. In my opinion, it wouldn’t be smart emptying the farm system for something that might not happen (Polanco staying healthy, etc.). It would be smarter to see how they do, then reassess midseason.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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