The price was right for Delmon Young

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Knowing just how bad defensively Delmon Young is, it’s impossible to wholly endorse the Phillies’ signing today. Still, at some point, he was worth a try. And a one-year, $750,000 deal with $2.75 million in incentives reaches that point.

Of course, Young has now played six full seasons and performed as a quality regular in just one of them. That was 2010, when he hit .298/.333/.493 with 21 homers and 112 RBI for the Twins. For his career, he’s a pedestrian .284/.317/.425 hitter, which, combined with some of the league’s worst outfield defense, has made him a well below average player.

Young, though, does have some offensive upside. And maybe he’ll finally get a clue at the plate now that all 30 teams have essentially agreed he’s one step up from worthless as is. Young is a lifetime .351 hitter when ahead in the count. If he ever learns a little patience at the plate, he’d be dangerous.

And even if he doesn’t, Young will bring a career .336/.356/.488 line in 342 at-bats against National League pitchers with him to Philadelphia. Small sample size that it is, it can hardly be taken as a bad sign.

Given Young’s low base salary and playing-time-related incentives, there will be ample reason to cut him if he struggles early. Still, he’s likely to get at least a month or two in right field before any decisions are made. The addition means John Mayberry Jr., Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf and Laynce Nix will all battle for time in left.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.