Somewhere in the South Pacific is an island that can’t be found on any map. You can only reach its shores on the three days a year that storms are not crashing down. Once you land — if you can survive all the deadly traps and trials — you will encounter a scale model of AT&T Park.
Running around without a care in the world is Jessie Foppert, Kurt Ainsworth, John Bowker, and Lance Niekro. The King of this Island is Todd Linden. This, my friends, is the Island of Misfit Prospects. And we are now on the verge of finding out if Gary Brown will end up on the island, or by the shores of McCovey Cove.
Gary Brown wasn’t horrible this spring, but he wasn’t great either. His plate discipline and base running have sadly not developed the way the Giants would have wanted. The way I see it, if the Giants don’t trade Brown this season they can look at three different situations.
In the perfect world for the Giants, Brown would buckle down and thrive in triple A. He would force the Giants to bust up the Torres/ Blanco platoon to give him at-bats. Bochy would finally see the error of his ways; he would seek atonement for years and years of forcing his promising young players to ride the pine, stunting their growth before casting them off to the Island. Brown would reward his skipper with a ROY award. The Dodgers file for bankruptcy, and I win the lottery, and we celebrate World Series Championship number three when Buster drives in Brown to beat the Yankees! (Hey, it’s called perfect world for a reason right?)
In an unfortunately much more likely situation, Brown would hit around .250-.270 in triple A, and the two-headed Torres/Blanco monster would perform at a similar clip. Like last year, every time the Giants struggled the fans would call for Gary; however, when he’s finally called up for three weeks to replace an injured Torres, he gets six, scattered at-bats and the rest go to Blanco and Peguero. He is then sent down again for more minor league seasoning. Brown just barely gets called up again in late September and collects two more at bats, finishing his season 2-9, and the Giants learn nothing about whether or not he can be the long term answer in right or left.
If the most likely situation seemed overly grim, you really want to look at the worst case. Brown struggles and is even demoted to double A, the Torres/Blanco combo also struggle and in a panic the Giants either turn to Francisco Peguero or make another short sided Beltran-like trade. The lack of production from left field takes its toll on San Francisco and coupled with one or two costly injuries; the Giants finish the season two games behind the Mets and surprise NL CY Young winner Zack Wheeler for the second Wild Card. The Dodgers then beat the Rays in the most unwatchable World Series ever. Buster Posey announces he is going to retire, a meteorite comes clashing through the sky and starts the end of times…er..
Anyway, I may have gotten a little off topic because I think this article was supposed to be about Gary Brown. I guess what I was trying to say is it’s unlikely that Gary Brown will make much of an impact for the 2013 Giants. Yes, he is their top hitting prospect and yes they do have a glaring need at a similar position, but under Sabean and Bochy they have never embraced the idea of a rookie taking a job from a veteran, unless it’s in the rotation.
The really unfortunate thing for the Giants is Brown is getting old for a prospect, so time really isn’t on their side even if they do want to wait on for him. He’s already older than Bumgarner and Hector Sanchez, and because he isn’t 22 anymore this has really reduced his trade value. Brown is a speed and defense type player, and these two skills get much worse as time progresses. Unless Brown has an unexpected power surge this season he is unlikely to regain his status as a top prospect.
So what should the Giants do with Brown? There will be openings at both right and left next season if Hunter Pence doesn’t sign a long term
extension and even if he does there will still be left open for Brown. If he learns how to become a better base runner, Brown could easily become a Scott Podsednik or young Dave Roberts clone and that isn’t the worst thing in the world for the Giants. Still his star is fading with SF and he will unfairly always be judged against Zack Wheeler because San Francisco kept him instead of their top pitching prospect when they traded for Carlos Beltran. I’ve always believed in Gary Brown; in fact last season when Melky Cabrera was suspended I wrote an article on why the Giants should have Brown replace the disgraced slugger but now I don’t know. If Brown is lighting up triple A this year then I say keep him and see what he can do next year; if around July 31stBrown is once again batting around .270 well then I say find out what he can bring back in return.
It’s not an easy answer and it has the chance to backfire. Jessie Foppert was once the number one prospect in the league and the Giants were only able to get Randy Winn for him after injuries took their toll.
The Wheeler for Beltran trade looks like a huge mistake now and could become worse or better depending on how Zack performs. Maybe Brown does make an impact with the Giants, or made in a couple of years he’s the fourth outfielder on the Padres. I do trust Brian Sabean in the draft but I don’t always trust him and Bochy to put young position players in the right spot to succeed. If I were to guess, I would think the Giants are probably not going to do right by Gary Brown and next season he will be traded for pennies on the dollar. He will probably get a few token at bats in San Francisco but will spend the majority of his career in different cities and then one day you will find him drinking tropical drinks with Todd Linden and John Bowker and wonder what that outfield would have looked like in San Francisco.