Phillies fans probably shouldn’t worry too much about Domonic Brown’s injury

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I know that (a) Domonic Brown’s broken hand is troublesome; and (b) spring stats should be given almost zero weight, but it’s probably worth noting that the guy who will likely start in right field for the Phillies — Ben Francisco — hit another home run yesterday and is now batting .421/.476/.947 in seven spring training games.

I mean, no, it wouldn’t make me happy if I was Charlie Manuel and I had to pencil Francisco in for 150+ games this year — and Brown certainly has the potential to be a fine ballplayer one day — but Brown didn’t do anything in his brief callup last season, didn’t do anything in winter ball and was atrocious this spring prior to his injury. It’s not crazy to say that he could still use some time in the minors or at least in a limited role for a contending team.

If you’re the Phillies, Brown’s injury could be a blessing in disguise. It could force them to make a move for a right fielder who deserves to play a big role on a contending team.  At the very least it could result in the Phillies using a guy in Francisco who — while he isn’t all that likely to slug .947 in the regular season — probably isn’t going to do any worse than Brown would have at his best in 2011.

And heck: since Ruben Amaro is a ninja, maybe he could play some crazy ninja mind trick on some other GM and convince them that Francisco is a .947 slugger and convince him to give up something valuable for him. He’s done more surprising things recently.

Rays sign lefty Ryan Merritt to a minor league deal

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The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.

Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.

His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.

The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.