SPRING SURPRISE

For the past four seasons…Ruben Amaro has made huge trade deadline deals for top of the line players starting in 2009 with the acquisition of Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay in 2010, Roy Oswalt at the deadline in 2010, and Hunter Pence in 2012. There were a few other smaller deals that were made not on the same tier. The common denominator with all of these deals was the Phillies trading away top notch farm raised prospects and homegrown talent in these deals.

In these deals, the Phillies traded away many Top Prospects including Kyle Drabek, Michael Borne, Anthony Gose, Travis D’arnaurd (now a Met), Michael Taylor, JA Happ, Anthony Villar, Jarret Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, and many more. However, in almost all of these trades the potential trade partners inquired or asked for Domenic Brown and the Phillies balked. Brown was highly sought by many potential trade suitors the past few years, but the Phillies made him untouchable.

Domenic Brown has been up with the big league club the past two years and has been a huge disappointment. During all of these trying times…Phillies brass continued to maintain that Brown will be a five tool star someday and that fans should be patient. Patient? Any Philly Fan patient? This sort of thing just doesn’t happen! Anyways, Phillies ownership and scouts continued to say that trading Brown would be a huge mistake that would come back to haunt the Phills for years to come.

Well, well, well…this spring has been a pleasant surprise for both Phillies Brass and fans. Domenic Brown is tearing up the Grapefruit League as he is hitting well over .300, leads the major leagues with 6 Home Runs, Third in RBI with 13 behind Ryan Howard and 1 other player, he’s scored a league leading 21 runs and walked 10x. This is amazing for a player that may be at his last chance after failing miserably the past two years. Brown has been splendid in the field as well and has all but cemented a roster spot this season.

Domenic Brown could be the key piece in a Phillies offense that has been tremendously inconsistent the past few years. He has provided some protection for Ryan Howard, who now has 5 Home Runs and is leading the Majors with 15 RBI. Howard also has cut down on his strikeouts and is hitting near .300. Michael Young, the free agent acquisition to play 3rd Base has also been splendid. He is hitting .295 with 2 Home Runs and 11 RBI. With Brown and Young producing the way they are…it will be less important for Last years minor league player of the year Darin Ruff to make the team right off the bat.

Kyle Kendrick has also been stellar this spring. Today, he went 6 Innings against the powerful New York Yankees lineup and did not give up a run. He also struck out 6. Brown and Howard both homered to power the Phillies offense. If Brown can continue this hot spring, there is no telling how good he could be this season. The sky is the limit. Lets just be happy that the Phillies have been patient with him and that they are giving him every chance to succeed.

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SPRING IN STEP

Spring Training is more than half way over and so far the Phillies Brass as well as its fans have to be happy with what they are seeing on the field. Cole Hamels has 2 Wins, 10 Strikeouts, a league leading .70 WHIP, and 12 innings pitched and a micro .90ERA. Well, that’s really not much of a surprise after Hamels coming off a career year in 2012 and a CY YOUNG shot.

In retrospect, not many people had high expectations for Roy Halladay who is coming off one of his worst pro seasons in which he was ravaged by injury. Well, so far Doc looks in Mid Season Form with a 2-0 Record, 2.16ERA, 8 Strikeouts in 10 Innings, a 1.01 WHIP. Yes, there are still questions about DOC’s velocity but no one can ever question his competitive spirit. If he has lost velocity, he has not let it effect him in the mound.

Cliff Lee has started 3 games and has a 5.13 ERA thus far. This should not really scare anyone as Lee is generally not a good spring training star. I am not worried about Lee and Kendrick who also has struggled. Mike Adams has a 0.00 ERA in 4 appearances out if the BullPen which bodes well for this relief core. He has 3 strikeouts in 3 innings. Adams is the set up man we lost in Ryan Madson. Papplebon has struggled, but not many closers flourish during the Florida Heat.

However, the biggest surprise thus far this spring for the Phillies and maybe the entire league is the way Ryan Howard is swinging the bat. Howard has hit over .300, leads the league with 4 Home Runs and is second with 13 RBI. He also has only struck out 5x. Most people would say wow Five Strikeouts is a lot. Well, not Phillies fans…we know Howard usually gets killed by the K.

All American Prospect Domenic Brown has been tearing it up. He is hitting .432 with 3 HR and 4 RBI. His slugging Percentage is .700. He looks like he is finally getting it. Chase Utley is only hitting .200 but has not missed a game and appears to be healthy for the first time in five years. Michael Young is also tearing it up hitting .391 with 1 HR and 9 RBI. This offense should be potent at the BANK.

Of course, there are always questions but this looks like a Phillies team that is determined to prove all of the National Media wrong…with comments like the Phillies are done, the Phillies are too old, etc. This team looks like it will definitely contend for the Division and if these star players can build on their strong Springs then we are in for an exciting season.

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