With Domonic Brown set to begin a rehab assignment today, the Phillies need to decide how he fits into the roster upon his arrival early next week.
If Brown were healthy, Ben Francisco would have started the season on the bench, Raul Ibanez in left field and Brown in right field.
Brown needs to be inserted into the starting lineup, but Francisco should make the switch to left field with Ibanez heading to the bench. Francisco is currently batting .262/.323/.452 with four home runs in 94 plate appearances.
The 39-year-old Ibanez is off to a terrible start this season, posting a .171/.253/.232 line with one home run in 92 plate appearances. Ibanez's strikeout rate has increased from 19 percent to 28.3 percent, and his ISO has dropped 100 points to .061.
The batted-ball rates also indicate that age is catching up to Ibanez.
He is currently putting 55 percent of balls in play on the ground, which is a 13 percent increase from his 43 percent rate in 2010. Ibanez is also posting a career-low contact rate at 73.7 percent.
Both key offensive metrics indicate Francisco is a better run producer. He currently has a .337 wOBA and a 106 wRC+. Ibanez currently possesses a .237 wOBA and a wRC+ of 37 and is the league's worst player in terms of WAR at -1.1 (WAR doesn't mean much this early in season, but it is worth noting that he is has the lowest).
Francisco is the better offensive option at this point in his career (I would argue he was the superior hitter last season), and he has always been a superior defensive outfielder. I still think the Phillies need to upgrade the position, but for now, the club should sit down Ibanez.
Yes, Ibanez might run into a few hits over the next few days that might indicate he is ready to break out of his slump.
Don't be fooled. Anyone who looks at both the stats and game footage knows Ibanez is done as a full time player.
The only argument is whether he should still be on the roster because Brown has nothing left to prove in the minors.
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