The Phillies outfield production has been consistent in 2014. Unfortunately, it has been consistently awful. John Mayberry Jr. (.219 average with .718 OPS), Domonic Brown, (.224 average and .596 OPS) and Tony Gwynn Jr. (.165 average with .499 OPS) have helped make the Phillies one of the worst offenses in the league out of left field. Two pieces of news could put the futures of two of these three in doubt.
First, Darin Ruf finished his rehab progress and was activated where he hit the disabled list, AAA Lehigh Valley:
Darin Ruf has been activated off IronPigs disabled list. Jeremy Horst assigned to Reading after throwing four innings last night. #phillies— Greg Joyce (@GJoyce9) July 6, 2014
Ruf was optioned to AAA when the Phillies decided that they could not possibly part with Gwynn, Mayberry, or Brown. Ruf then suffered a sprain sliding in the wall in the very narrow Coca-Cola Field left field line. If Ruf proves himself capable, the Phillies could make a change.
Second, Grady Sizemore has an opt-out date in his contract coming up. Sizemore must make the Phillies' big club by the All-Star break or be released. Sizemore has been pretty productive at AAA (though it is AAA), batting .303 with one home run and one RBI with decent defense in left field and center field. The Phillies' brass wants him playing those two positions, where the Phillies may have a need, according to Iron Pigs manager Dave Brundage in this Lehigh Valley Live report:
"That's part of the plan, to see him in center, see him in left and make sure that's he's able and capable," Brundage said. "We'd be doing him a disservice if we didn't play him in both for what our needs are at the big-league level, for obvious reasons. That's come down from the top.
"They'd like to have him prepared to play left field and center field and see where it takes us."
Sizemore could certainly help the Phillies. The Phillies are well-aware of their outfielder's struggles or else they would not have signed Sizemore.
The Phillies cannot get rid of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, or Chase Utley. But if the team wishes to make a statement a statement that mediocrity is not acceptable, the Phillies will part ways with Gwynn and send Brown to AAA. While it would be a tough thing for Gwynn after losing his father, the Phillies need to show that they can be a respectable team. Even if they don't, a shakeup might give fans the impression that just maybe they care.