Friday, March 1, 2013

John Mayberry should not make Phillies Opening Day roster

If John Mayberry was an animal he would be a cat, because he is already working on his fifth baseball life. It’s amazing to think just how fortunate Mayberry has been in his career. Here's a look at the many opportunities Mayberry has been given and why he used up his last.

Call up #1: John Mayberry finished his 2009 season at Lehigh Valley with a .256 batting average, a .332 OBP, and 13 HR. Not exactly the kind of numbers that draw big league attention, especially for a 25-year-old with 2,306 career minor league PA’s. Nonetheless, Mayberry received his phone call and hit .211 in 57 at-bats with the big club.

Call up #2: Mayberry spent the entire 2010 season (outside of a brief September call up) in AAA, where he hit .267 with 15 homers, a .328 OBS, and 111 strikeouts. Those numbers gave him yet another shot. It didn’t last long, though, as he hit .231 with just 3 home runs in 45 games through June 1st and he was sent down again.

Call up #3: After hitting .265 with 4 homers in 28 games at Lehigh Valley, wouldn’t you know he received another call-up. This time he did not disappoint. From July 22nd on, Mayberry hit .315 with 10 HR, 25 RBI, a .621 slugging percentage, and a .998 OPS.

Call up #4: Those 49 games to finish 2011 earned John a starting role with the Phillies in 2012. He proceeded to hit .245 with a .301 OBP and just 14 homers in 145 games.

Call up #5: Here we are again. Despite another poor season, Mayberry still has a job on a major league team.

Why is Mayberry still on Phillies roster?

John Mayberry is on the Phillies big league roster for the same reason Delmon Young received an offer: they had no decent alternatives. While Ruf and Brown must fight it out for a place on the team, Mayberry is a near lock simply because he can play center and they can’t. And since the Phillies have no options left on Mayberry (meaning they can’t send him to the minors without placing him on waivers and risking another team taking him), he is even more likely to make the squad.

Somehow Mayberry tricked me into believing he was in store for a big year in 2012. He looked like a ballplayer, his father was a big leaguer, he had five tools, and a Stanford education (he even learned Spanish to help understand some of his teammates). In his hot streak in 2011 Mayberry hit for power (10 HR) and average (.315). Well, somewhere along the line, Mayberry’s evil twin, John Maybuggles, took over. In 2012, Maybuggles showed limited power (14 homers in 145 games), a low average (.245), and poor discipline (he did not work a walk until his 27th game).

I will never hate on a player for lacking the skills, just as I never hated on Burrell for running like a newborn calf. But what I won’t accept is a lack of effort and focus. Maybuggles ran bad routes in the outfield, looked clueless on the basepaths, could not knock in a runner from third with less than two outs, and showed no discipline.

But the topper came in an interview with John Gonzalez recently from Clearwater. He was asked how last season went for him and he said, "I think it went OK." Oh boy. If that is really how he feels, there is nothing we can do to help him.

Jonathan Papelbon, a five-time all-star, World Champ, and only salvageable piece of last year’s bullpen, was not satisfied with his season. "Disappointment," he said. "Total failure. I made the all-star team, and it was still a total failure."

Yet Mayberry thought he did OK.

The Phillies have four capable outfielders besides Mayberry, so the only real reason to keep Mayberry is as a backup for Ben Revere. It seems an awful shame for Brown or Ruf to play in Lehigh Valley in place of a player who is only around in case Revere gets injured.

Still, it is hard to escape the fact that the Phillies have no good options to fill in for Revere even if he is healthy. The best option in center would be...gulp...Dom Brown. I know how bad it sounds, but reports say that Brown's best position is center field. It may not be ideal, but it only hurts you for a few innings if Revere is healthy and it gives you the upside of holding onto Ruf or Brown.

And if Revere gets hurt...well, we are probably screwed anyway. In that situation, the Phils could bring up Tyson Gillies from single-A, Ender Inciarte (who may not be around since he is a Rule 5 player), "fan favorite" Michael Martinez, or pickup somebody else off the street.

I say the Phillies should take their chances and designate Mayberry for assignment. Or they could trade him and see what they get. Either way, I would much rather take the chance that another team claims Mayberry off waivers than hold Ruf or Brown back.

I'm still hanging on the hope that what Mayberry showed in 2011 was not a fluke. But I'm not willing to waste a roster spot on it. Why have Ruf and Brown fight it out when they can both win jobs?

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