Crash Landing: Bidding Farewell to Chooch?

The waiver trade deadline is less than a week away and the Phillies have still declined to make a single in-season trade this year. It’s been leaked that both Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz have cleared waivers, however, which is a reminder that this inactivity could change at any moment. It’s not a surprise either player cleared waivers as Howard is still owed ~$15M on his contract while Ruiz has ~$2M remaining and, although that’s not a prohibitive amount, it’s still a large investment for one to two months of a backup catcher. Now that they’ve cleared waivers, though, it’s possible to work out a trade, particularly if the Phillies are willing to provide a bit of salary relief.

I’m sticking with my unwavering predictions that Ryan Howard isn’t going anywhere. He’s been on an offensive tear lately and, while that’s great to see, he remains a one-dimensional player with extraordinarily limited value. None of the contending American League teams have a clear need for him and I just don’t see Howard ending his season anywhere but Philadelphia. Chooch, on the other hand, is rumored to have generated a bit of interest. Could we currently be in the final hours of his Phillies tenure?

This isn’t a fun question to pose. Although you would think the gradual departure of every core piece of the 2008 championship team would make these farewells easier, that really hasn’t been the case, at least for me. The Jimmy Rollins trade was an incredibly emotional time for Phillies fans, but that didn’t make the Cole Hamels trade or the Chase Utley trade any less emotional. No matter who has already left or how obvious that farewells to Chooch and Howard are imminent regardless of a change, the actual farewell itself is guaranteed to be emotional.

As for whether or not a trade is palatable, there’s something almost comforting about knowing the end is near and being able to put a clock on it. The final day of the regular season, that’s when we say goodbye. But the immediacy of trades generates a different and, arguably, less satisfying emotional reaction. A year ago Phillies fans were denied the opportunity to give Utley the farewell he would’ve received had there been an opportunity for a true goodbye. The final day of the regular season will give fans that opportunity, but a trade won’t.

This isn’t to say the Phillies shouldn’t trade Chooch. He’s been, by all accounts, a wonderful veteran in the clubhouse who provides real value even now that his playing time has been dramatically curtailed, but losing that for the final six weeks of the season won’t be a significant baseball loss. With that said, the actual baseball reasons for moving him are similarly minimal. Any prospect return is likely to be an extraordinary long shot to ever provide real major league value and it’s not as though Ruiz’s presence on the roster is blocking a prospect. If the Phillies want to bring up Jorge Alfaro or Andrew Knapp when rosters expand in September, they’ll be perfectly able to do that whether Ruiz is here or not.

For me, I suppose that’s the unsatisfying aspect of these departures: there’s no real gain to be had in trading away Carlos Ruiz. Given that reality, I find myself hoping it doesn’t happen. I’d rather deal with all my emotions surrounding both Ruiz and Howard in one go at the close of the regular season. But whether the departure ultimately happens this week or six weeks from now, the positive thing is that it’s guaranteed to provide a wonderful opportunity to look back on the wonderful and somewhat underrated Phillies career of Carlos Ruiz as well as the remarkable career of one Ryan Howard. I may not be looking forward to the departure, but I am greatly looking forward to the opportunity to celebrate a couple of Phillies legends.

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6 comments

  1. David

    August 25, 2016 04:07 PM

    Regardless of what happens over the next week (or six), I’d love to see the Phils eventually bring Chooch back in a coaching or managing capacity somewhere in the organization. His work with varying pitchers over the years has garnered considerable praise, and his in-game management has also been impressive.

    It seems that he could bring a lot to a clubhouse of emerging young players, whether at the minor or major league levels.

    And, as has been referenced elsewhere, they may even go this route at least initially in 2017 by bringing Chooch back on a 1-year reduced deal as Rupp’s backup (and continuing clubhouse mentor), while getting Knapp and Alfaro everyday at bats in AAA and AA respectively (and, just by coincidence, delaying the start of their service time clocks by waiting until sometime in the May-July window for a promotion).

    Anyway, it seems to me that Chooch could well have a future helping to head up someone’s clubhouse and bench. I hope it might be one of ours.

    • Romus

      August 25, 2016 05:29 PM

      Chooch headed to Dodgers for catcher AJ Ellis ,RHP Tommy Bergjans and PTBNL.

      • Steve

        August 25, 2016 05:34 PM

        Damn… see ya Chooch… : (

  2. Chase

    August 25, 2016 05:40 PM

    I wish it hadn’t happened. Bye Chooch and thanks for everything!! You’ll be missed!

    • Romus

      August 25, 2016 06:13 PM

      Ryan Howard…sole survivor now.

  3. Tony

    August 25, 2016 06:18 PM

    > For me, I suppose that’s the unsatisfying aspect of these departures: there’s no real gain to be had in trading away Carlos Ruiz. Given that reality, I find myself hoping it doesn’t happen.

    I view it differently — I’m a Phillies fan first and foremost, but being a Phillies fan has made me a Carlos Ruiz fan, and now that he’s on his way to LA, he’ll have a chance to reunite with Chase and get a chance to win another ring. That’s a lot more interesting and worthwhile to me than the difference between him leaving now and staying around for the final weeks.

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