Chooch Is Great, But …
Roy Halladay said something interesting last night when we asked about Carlos Ruiz‘s ejection in the top of the third inning.
“It’s unfortunate because he’s our best player,” he said.
He said it very matter-of-factly, like the Rangers were talking about Josh Hamilton or the Mets were talking about David Wright. Ruiz is tied for fourth in the National League in batting (.344), 10th in on-base percentage (.397) and seventh in slugging percentage (.576). His .973 OPS is 209 points higher than his career average. He is having an unbelievable season. He should be a National League All-Star for the first time. But even on a team without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, it is too much to ask Ruiz to carry the offense when he has never had more than nine homers or 54 RBIs in a season.
Catching is a grind over six months. Ruiz has had hot starts before. He had a .945 OPS through June 7, 2009, but had a .710 OPS the rest of the way. He had a .969 OPS through May 10, 2010, but an .810 OPS the rest of the way.
Maybe Ruiz keeps up his torrid hitting through the end of the season, but the Phillies should not expect it. They need more than him.
Unfortunately, he is about all there is. Last night the Phillies had Juan Pierre, Hector Luna, Freddy Galvis and Mike Fontenot in the lineup. Pierre signed a Minor League contract with the Phillies before making the team as a fifth outfielder out of spring training. Luna started the season in Triple-A. Galvis made the team out of spring training only because of Utley’s injury. Fontenot got released by San Francisco before starting the season in Triple-A.
Put Halladay in the mix and they were 55 percent of the lineup last night.
Manuel expressed his frustrations:
“I’ve always talked about a balanced lineup. That’s what makes it go. All of a sudden, you look up and … in our ballpark, the outfielders can play up and nail our runners. That’s what I see.”
Translation: The outfielders are playing up in our hitter-friendly ballpark because we don’t have a lot of players that can drive the ball.
“When you go down and see guys knocking 40 and 50 runs over 162 games, that’s never been good,” he said. “If you are getting 550 or 600 AB’s, what’s so good about that? They’ve always been leaving them out there. They just have a big guy who comes by who can hit the ball hard and far and does it good enough to pick them up. But that’s what baseball is, too. That’s the lineup. If you have two or three of those guys — or three or four of them in a row — you can pick up a lot of RBIs that way. That’s how you score runs. And you can pick up RBIs by hitting the ball hard and making solid contact during the game.”
Translation: When you have hitters with no history of knocking in runs you can’t expect them to suddenly start knocking in runs.
“We should be able to come back and win some games every now and then,” he said. “How many times have we come back and won games being behind? We don’t hit the ball good enough to win the game.”
Translation: We don’t hit the ball good enough to win the game.
Every night Manuel is asked about the offense. Are they pressing? Are they trying too hard? Are they prepared like they should be? Do they need to watch more film? Take extra BP? But Hunter Pence and Jimmy Rollins are the only two everyday players that have had more than 73 RBIs in a season. Pence had a career-high 97 last season. Rollins had a career-high 94 in 2007, but no more than 77 in a season since. So this is a lineup with one guy considered a RBI guy: Pence. And he is terribly streaky. The Phillies will have good stretches — they averaged 5.1 runs per game in 25 games from April 23 to May 19 — but without three or four of those run producers in a row, like Manuel said, there are going to be bad stretches, too. So it really shouldn’t be shocking the Phillies can’t consistently knock in runners from third with less than two outs. It shouldn’t be a surprise the outfield is playing in a lot. This is who they are. Good stretches, bad stretches. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:
- June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
- June 16: Barnes & Noble, 4801 Concord Pike, Wilmington, Del., 2:00 p.m.