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Brandon Phillips, the Bell Tolls for Thee

2003/07/14

The Indians returned Brandon Phillips to AAA Buffalo today, mercifully ending (for now) his trial by fire at the major-league level. Phillips was by nearly any measure the worst offensive regular in either league, with only the crippled Jermaine Dye and the suddenly over-the-hill Paul Konerko even approaching his ineptitude.

Phillips began last season at AA Harrisburg, where his strong numbers (.327/.380/.506) should be discounted a bit due to his repeating the level. After a promotion to Ottawa he was dealt to the Tribe and finished the season in Buffalo, hitting a combined .279/.324/.454 at AAA. In 503 PA at both Ottawa and Buffalo, Phillips struck out a respectable 78 times, yet drew only 32 walks.

That having been said, the Indians will not be giving up on their punchless prospect so easily. Phillips just turned 22 on June 28 and played solid defense during his stint in the majors. Mark Shapiro will likely give Phillips until September 1 to work on his plate discipline then call him up when rosters expand. In the meantime, expect John McDonald to take Phillips’ roster spot after the All-Star Break. Jhonny Peralta may benefit the most, however, starting at SS until Omar returns with Ricky Gutierrez moving over to 2B and McDonald remaining in his familiar utility role.

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