Ruben Amaro, Ryne Sandberg Want Carlos Ruiz Back in 2014

Via Todd Zolecki:

Ruiz has hit .301 with 12 doubles, four home runs, 26 RBIs and an .823 OPS in 41 games since Aug. 2.

“We’d like to bring him back,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He knows we’d like to bring him back. We’ll see what happens. It wouldn’t be the first free agent [we’ve had]. … I’d like to have as much balance [in the lineup] as we can, we haven’t been very good against left-handers. It’s well documented.”

Said manager Ryne Sandberg: “The way he’s performed, I would hope he’d be back. He’s a right-handed bat. His status here, him being comfortable here, maybe the ball’s in his corner and he could help with that decision. It could come down to that, where he wants to go.

“That’s a big hole that needs to be filled. The sooner the better.”

At the beginning of September, I wrote about Carlos Ruiz’s surge after a shaky start following his 25-game suspension. He went into a bit of a lull since then, especially in the power department, but otherwise, he has been essentially the same player we have seen over the last few years.

Ruiz will be 35 years old in January. Teams in need of a catcher will target the likes of Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia — five and six years Ruiz’s junior, respectively — on multi-year deals. Teams that miss out won’t be in the position to commit to Ruiz beyond two years. A one- or two-year deal makes perfect sense for the Phillies as it allows them to bridge the gap between the Ruiz era and the era of their next catcher (Cameron Rupp, perhaps?) without going headlong into a heavy multi-year contract, the type that has crippled the team lately.

Rupp will also benefit from a full season at Triple-A. If he performs well enough, he can be promoted to the Majors and serve as Ruiz’s understudy, absorbing valuable information from a tried-and-true veteran. In other words, Rupp will have as little pressure as possible, considering he is currently the most-developed, realistic catching talent in the system right now.

Furthermore, getting Ruiz on the books for 2014 will allow Amaro to devote his focus towards other areas of need, like finding a corner outfielder. Let’s say Ruiz decides to test the open market. Would Amaro be disciplined enough not to sign Brian McCann for four years? The same money that would be used to acquire a catcher could instead be used to fill other areas of need, such as signing Shin-Soo Choo. (This is merely an illustration, not a suggestion.)

Plus, of any position where familiarity can legitimately be considered a virtue, it’s catching. Ruiz has a long-standing relationship with most of his pitchers. They trust him, and he understands their strengths and weaknesses when calling a game. There’s a reason why Roy Halladay credited Ruiz for his success — a perfect game against the Marlins during the regular season, a no-hitter against the Reds in the NLDS, and the NL Cy Young award — in 2010.

Finally, the Phillies may not be ready to compete, even if they do make big splashes in free agency and via trade. For all the things that went wrong in 2013, they still out-performed their Pythagorean record by seven games. Going by runs scored and runs allowed, the Phillies should actually be 65-92 (the fourth-worst Pythagorean record in the Majors), not 72-85. Delmon Young, Michael Young, Laynce Nix, and Chad Durbin may be gone, but the man responsible for their inclusion on the roster in the first place still remains. If Amaro hasn’t learned from the mistakes that dragged the team into the mud over the last two years, it won’t matter who catches games as the Phillies will be watching the playoffs from their couches anyway.

To fans who are tired of hearing about how old the team is, the thought of bringing back a 35-year-old catcher may be unappetizing, but Ruiz is still among the best in the business. It may not seem like it, but bringing Ruiz back may just be one of the more important decisions to make during the off-season.

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61 comments

  1. Phillie697

    September 26, 2013 01:32 PM

    @Steve,

    In other words, to clarify, your argument is about 0.5% different from basically the argument that we should just cut Ryan Howard right now. Good luck wishing that to happen anytime soon.

  2. joecatz

    September 26, 2013 04:19 PM

    697,

    2012-2013

    vs RHP:

    Ryan Howard: 878 OPS, 370 wOBA, 136 wRC+
    Brian McCann: 873 OPS, 373 wOBA, 142 wRC+

    vs LHP

    McCann: .616 OPS, .276 wOBA, 76 wRC+
    Howard: .539 OPS, .238 wOBA, 44 wRC+

    no offense, but ALL of McCanns value comes from his ability to catch. The second you transition him to a 1B role, he’s average.

    Howards been just as effective on one foot vs RHP, and McCann has been almost as bad (less the K rates) vs LHP.

    they both have putrid BB rates vs LHP (south of 4%)

    McCann doesn’t strike out that much (19%).

    But McCann becomes a 15mm platoon 1B if he cant catch.

    Thats a sucker sign for a NL team that can’t seemlessly transition him.

  3. Phillie697

    September 26, 2013 04:34 PM

    @joecatz,

    I’m not saying it’s a good idea to put McCann at 1B. I’m merely disputing your claim that 1B is blocked.

  4. Phillie697

    September 26, 2013 04:37 PM

    Anyway, speaking of Mike Trout… So 60 WAR is what most people think is the threshold for a HoF career. Mike Trout is at 20.9 fWAR already, averaging 10+ fWAR a year for every full year he’s been in the league. At this rate, he’s supposedly HoF worthy by the time he’s 26.

    How bad are the Angels that they are essentially getting $50M worth of performance for free, and still can’t make the playoffs…

  5. Joecatz

    September 26, 2013 04:54 PM

    Blocked or not at 1B, the point is that you don’t sign McCann if your the phillies unless you are certain he can catch the entire contract.

  6. Larry

    September 26, 2013 05:12 PM

    @697,

    What could Mike Trout do that would help them win when Joe Blanton is on the mound? Blanton might be the luckiest player ever contract wise.

  7. Steve

    September 26, 2013 07:47 PM

    @697

    I think where we disagree on is I see someone who has value to an AL team where you can rest Howard by DHing him when needed and he still plays a decent 1B so that he isn’t a total blackhole if you need/want to play him against a NL team. He just doesn’t have 25 mil worth of value. 151 games ~.246 avg 25 HR and 99 RBI (2011-12). That’s playing on one leg. Chances are if RH plays April -July, Hits .255 15 HR’s 40 RBI, (I believe he will come in shape and be somewhat productive) he becomes a tradable piece as long as you eat a substantial portion of the contract. Are you going to get a huge return. No, that isn’t the point, the point is some salary relief (5 mil) and a player. If Franco is in the wings, you are moving him to open a space for a cost controlled player. If you don’t see the upside to that as opposed to just cutting him, sorry. And, yes if he doesn’t pan out by July, than cut him and move on, The Phils have the ability to eat that contract if they would grow balls and get rid of the GM who put them in this asinine position.

  8. Joecatz

    September 26, 2013 10:27 PM

    If HOWARD IS PRODUCTIVE WERE TRADING HIM WHY?

    This is the part that no one gets. He has no trade value right now because he’s been hurt and horrible against LHP. If he comes back healthy, and productive, his value ON THE FIELD is probably more than the value back in a trade.

    The only way Howard gets moved in the next 12-18 months is if you package him with a more valuable asset for a not quite as bad contract type of deal.

    It’s a very unrealistic thing to think will happen. Any plans you make, you make around Howard at 1B.

  9. Phillie697

    September 27, 2013 12:14 PM

    @Steve,

    You also have to remember, we have ZERO leverage. Like Eric L. said, we live in a real world, not in a video game. Leverage matters.

  10. Phillie697

    September 27, 2013 12:18 PM

    @joecatz,

    I’m not certain freaking BUSTER POSEY stays at catcher in the next five years, let alone McCann. With catchers, you just have to accept that there is higher risk and roll the dice. It’s not the same as getting an OF or 1B. You said you were a former catcher, you of all people should understand that.

  11. joecatz

    September 27, 2013 02:03 PM

    I do understand that. Its exactly why in no uncertain terms would I ever consider signing a 31 year old Brian McCann, who has caught 127, 136, 126, 114, and 92 games respectively over the PAST five years to a five year deal, at close to 15mm per year.

    especially not when you can get the same production over the next two seasons from Chooch, if thats an option.

    You don’t have to accept the risk, you don’t have to roll the dice.

    Signing McCann is like 180 degrees in the opposite direction of everything you tend to believe, and comment on. he’s getting old, he’s injury prone, he’s expensive, and he likely won’t play out the contract,and he’ll cost a draft pick.

    Just cause he’s the “best catcher out there” doesn’t mean hes the best catcher out there for this team. He’s exactly the wrong player for this team in a billion ways.

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