Delmon Young isn’t likely to be the answer. But, the Philadelphia Phillies believe that he can swing for the fences and carry a decent glove to the outfield this season. General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. might also admit that the 27-year-old raised a free agent option after winning the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award last fall when he was a member of the Detroit Tigers.
Considering Ben Revere’s early-season slump and Domonic Brown’s less-than-steady start, Charlie Manuel needs Young to act like it’s 2010. That was the year that he hit 21 home runs and knocked in 112 runs for the Minnesota Twins. For that sharp effort he finished tenth in the American League Most Valuable Player Award voting.
That type of heavy production probably isn’t possible this season because he’s getting off to a late start (debuting on April 30 against the Cleveland Indians as the Phillies’ designated hitter) had lingering health issues and because his defensive potential is optimistically half-full.
Platooning for the moment with Laynce Nix in right field, Young could be seen on more than a part-time basis if his bat sings into the summer months. But, he simply has never demonstrated the type of defensive acumen that would automatically warrant at bats against right-handed pitchers.
If all goes well, Young’s on-field career should be fine. Let’s hope that he maintains control over his emotions when he’s out of uniform as well, so that old off-the-field ghosts don’t rise again.
The arrival of Young, obviously less important than the recent return of Carlos Ruiz, won’t ensure a playoff push. However, this low-risk addition is worth a gamble because his right-handed bat could fit nicely into the middle-third of the order and satisfy Manuel’s ongoing offensive desires.