Results tagged ‘ Carlos Ruiz ’

Heyward Trade, Martin Contract Could Affect Phillies

Cole Hamels, Carlos RuizTwo things happened yesterday that could affect the Phillies indirectly this offseason.

First, the Cardinals traded pitcher Shelby Miller and pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins to the Braves for outfielder Jason Heyward and setup man Jordan Walden. Second, the Blue Jays signed catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million contract.

Everybody in baseball knows the Phillies are willing to trade anybody on their roster as they plan a significant rebuilding process. That includes left-hander Cole Hamels and catcher Carlos Ruiz, two of the five remaining pieces from the 2008 World Series championship roster.

The Phillies will trade Hamels only if they receive what they consider a legitimate return. (They are not looking to shed payroll here.) The Cardinals-Braves trade gives a rough outline for what the Phillies could request for Hamels. He is significantly more accomplished than Miller, although he also is owed $96 million over the next four seasons. Still, he could be viewed as an attractive alternative to free-agent aces like Max Scherzer and Jon Lester. The $96 million Hamels is owed certainly will be less than Lester and Scherzer will receive as free agents, although the teams that sign them will not have to give up prospects to get them.

(The team that signs Scherzer will lose a draft pick. The team that signs Lester will not.)

But if the Cardinals can acquire an everyday outfielder – albeit one that becomes a free agent next winter – and a setup man, the Phillies theoretically should be able to acquire more. That is not to say the Phillies will be looking exclusively at big-league talent for Hamels, but they at least will be looking for a blue-chip prospect or two, not a handful of fringe prospects that need a little luck to pan out.

The Cliff Lee-Seattle trade is on the minds of Phillies’ front office officials as they talk to teams about Hamels.

They cannot make the same mistake twice.

Now that Martin is off the market, teams needing a catcher are looking at a remarkably thin free-agent market. Teams serious about upgrading at catcher might have to make a trade to fill that need.

Ruiz is an option, although Arizona’s Miguel Montero is the hottest name at the moment. Ruiz is owed $17.5 million over the next two seasons. He is known as a good game caller (Roy Halladay loved the guy) and has been one of the most well liked and highly respected players in the Phillies clubhouse for years.

Ruiz hit .252 with 25 doubles, one triple, six home runs, 31 RBIs, a .347 on-base percentage and a .717 OPS last season. Ruiz and Montero each have a career .763 OPS.

The knock against Ruiz, 35, is that he has trouble staying healthy. He has spent time on the disabled list each of the previous six seasons.

Ruiz, Revere, Lee, Burnett Injury Updates

Russell Martin, Ben RevereThe Phillies announced four injury updates Wednesday:

  • Carlos Ruiz on Monday had minor arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. Team physician Michael Ciccotti performed the surgery. Ruiz will begin his rehab immediately and will return to Philadelphia in one month for a follow-up exam. He is expected to be ready for Spring Training.
  • Ben Revere on Tuesday had surgery at the Rothman Institute to remove screws from his right ankle. Physician Steven Raikin performed the surgery. Revere will be in a walking boot for approximately two weeks and is expected to be ready for Spring Training.
  • Cliff Lee on Friday had an MRI on his left elbow at the Rothman Institute. The team said the MRI showed positive results as his flexor tendon is healing well. Lee will begin a full throwing program in November and is expected to be ready for Spring Training.
  • The Phillies are in the process of scheduling hernia surgery for right-hander A.J. Burnett. The club will have more information once the surgery has been scheduled.

Chooch to DL with Concussion

Carlos RuizCarlos Ruiz got hit in the head with a pitch during his at-bat in the 11th inning last night, but he still finished the 14-inning victory over the Marlins.

But the Phillies announced an hour before tonight’s 4-2 loss to the Braves that Ruiz had been placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list. They selected the contract of Triple-A Lehigh Valley catcher Koyie Hill to take Ruiz’s spot on the 25-man roster. They designated Double-A outfielder Zach Collier for assignment to make room for Hill on the 40-man roster.

Ryne Sandberg indicated about three hours before the game that Ruiz, who spent time on the DL in 2010 with a concussion, would be fine, but that changed.

“He was under a little bit of watch,” Sandberg said after the game. “He just had a headache and he checked with Scott (head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan). It was clear that he had something going on.”

Backup catcher Wil Nieves already is on the DL with a strained right quadriceps, leaving the Phillies with Cameron Rupp and Hill to catch while Ruiz and Nieves recover.

Hill, 35, was hitting .240 with nine doubles, one triple, three home runs and 17 RBIs in 45 games for Lehigh Valley.

Collier, 23, appeared in 40 games for Reading this season, hitting .228 with five doubles, two triples and one home run.

The Walking Dead (And Other Walk Up Music)

Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona DiamondbacksHere are a few music updates from my last post April 16. If you do not see a player listed, it means his tune has not changed since then or he has not chosen a tune.

Here we go:

AT BAT:

  • Domonic Brown: Move That Dope by Future and The Devil is a Lie by Rick Ross
  • A.J. Burnett: Walking Dead Theme by Bear McCreary
  • Tony Gwynn Jr.: Who Do You Love by YG
  • John Mayberry Jr.: Ambition by Wale
  • Wil Nieves: No Soy Yo by Tony Vega
  • Jayson Nix: No Leaf Clover by Metallica
  • Carlos Ruiz: In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins

PITCHING:

  • A.J. Burnett: Black Skinhead by Kanye West

Burnett is a big Walking Dead fan, thus the zombie face paint in Arizona on the last road trip and his choice of walk-up music when he hits. Chooch goes back in time to choose a tune he used when the Phillies were winning NL East titles.

Hamels Back, Phillies Finally Healthy

Matt Cain,Cole Hamels rejoins the Phillies rotation tonight at Dodger Stadium.

I’m not sure if this is an interesting fact or a case of digging too deep, but yesterday I discovered that today will be just the sixth day since the final month of the 2011 season that the Phillies will not have at least one everyday position player or member of their five-man rotation on the disabled list.

The Phillies had a five-day stretch in 2012 when Roy Halladay finished his stint on the DL on July 17 before Placido Polanco went on the DL on July 23.

That’s it, other than today.

The Phillies are averaging 9,373 fewer fans per game this season than last season, which is the steepest drop of any team in baseball. One reason is because fans simply didn’t buy the team’s sales pitch that they would be good if they were healthy. Well, they’re finally healthy, so they’ve got a chance to put that theory to the test. They are 10-10 without a full roster with three blown late-inning leads, including two in the ninth inning. They have been exactly what a 10-10 team looks like. They have shown some encouraging signs, but they also have played inconsistently, which is what .500 teams and teams with losing records do.

But the Philllies have played well these past two games against the Dodgers, who some considered the best team in the National League. If the Phillies can win one of these next two games in LA, they will head to Arizona to play a terrible Diamondbacks team with a chance to finish the 10-game road trip with a winning record.

*

This is why you hustle. Carlos Ruiz keyed last night’s victory by hustling to second base on a routine pop up in shallow left field.

Phillies Cruise in LA

Cliff LeeGood morning from California.

If you missed last night’s 7-0 victory over the Dodgers because of the three-hour difference, you missed a rare night when the Phillies didn’t have to sweat out a victory. They took a 2-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back as Cliff Lee allowed four hits and struck out 10 in eight scoreless innings.

Lee is 2-2 with a 1.20 ERA in four starts since Opening Day. In 30 innings over those starts, he has allowed 33 hits, four earned runs, one walk and has struck out 37.

“He’s evolved over the years,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s throwing more changeups, the curveball in different ways. He’s using more pitches. He used to be simple — stuff and location. He doesn’t throw quite as hard, but it doesn’t seem to matter a whole lot.”

Lee’s fastball has lost about one mph since last season, but it hasn’t affected his results.

Ryne Sandberg hit Carlos Ruiz fourth, despite hitting .204 with no home runs and two RBIs. He finished hitting .245 with one home run and four RBIs.

Ryan Howard continues to swing a hot bat. He hit his fifth home run of the season. It is just 19 games, but it is worth noting for the moment that his .905 OPS ranks 24th out of 199 qualifying hitters in baseball. Chase Utley is fourth at 1.086.

If you didn’t see Utley’s play in the bottom of the first inning you should watch it here. Lee called it “advanced” baseball.

It’s An Old Age Question

Ruben Amaro Jr.If you have not read the story yet, the Phillies held a press conference last night to announce Carlos Ruiz‘s three-year, $26 million deal. Ruben Amaro Jr. discussed the risks of signing Ruiz, who turns 35 in January. But last night’s news conference was old news. The story broke Monday, and Ruiz’s agent Marc Kligman (@MLBAgent) confirmed and discussed the deal on Twitter and elsewhere. By the time the official announcement came, most people already had their fill of how the deal went down.

The real news is what’s next for Amaro? I wrote the other day that unless he makes a trade to free up a spot in the field, Marlon Byrd and Ruiz could be the only tweaks to next season’s lineup. (And Ruiz can’t be considered much of a tweak because he isn’t new.) So here are Amaro’s answers to questions about the team and what’s next.

Q: Could there be more changes to the lineup?
A: It is possible. We’ve had a lot of dialogue with a lot of clubs. We’ve kept our minds and our eyes open as far as our lineup is concerned. We hope to try to continue to improve it, or change it, somehow.

Q: Five of the eight everyday players will be 34 or older on Opening Day …
A: I think we can win. It’s really a matter of getting the guys on the field. If they’re on the field, they will produce. Unless something drastic happens over the next several months, I fully expect these guys to be on the field and performing.I also think we have some better depth because we have some kids who got a chance to play last year. If we do have breakdowns, I think we have better depth to fill in some spots. Yes, they’re older but they’re also very good when they’re playing. That’s important. I think it was (Yankees general manager) Brian Cashman who said, ‘I don’t care about the age so long as they’re good.’ I believe in our players even though the core group is getting older. There’s no question about that. I can’t deny that. We hope to get them on the field. And if they’re on the field, they’ll produce

Q: So what’s next?
A: Well, I think we are still – as we talked about before – the pitching remains a priority for us. If we can still improve the rotation and our bullpen, we will try to do that. We’re still looking for ways to maybe improve, tweak  our lineup. We’re looking for more depth in the outfield, some athleticism. We’re just trying to get ourselves so we can cover all the bases a little better than we did last year when we had breakdowns in the infield and outfield. We had a lot of six-year free agents pitching in the rotation, so we’re going to try and create some depth on the pitching side and in the field as well.

Is This the 2014 Phillies Lineup?

Ruiz Hits Record HeatI wrote about this yesterday, but I thought it’d make a good discussion here.

The Phillies recently spent $42 million on Carlos Ruiz and Marlon Byrd, and barring a big move from Ruben Amaro Jr. those signings could be the end of their offensive upgrades for 2014. Every position is set, unless Amaro trades somebody like Domonic Brown or Ben Revere or some starting pitching to add a bat. It seems clear the front office is entering next season the same way it entered this past season: hoping a healthier roster is enough to return them to the postseason. The Phillies thought a healthier Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in 2013 would provide a big boost. The theory had some merit. The Phillies were 45-57 on July 29, 2012, before they traded Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. They finished 36-24 for the fifth-best record in the National League. They thought they had momentum. They thought they saw signs of the former five-time NL East champions.

But that hope is a harder sell following a 73-89 finish in 2013, the organization’s worst since they lost 97 games in 2000. The Phillies scored the fourth-fewest runs in baseball lats season.

Not only do the Phillies need Howard and Ben Revere healthy and productive, they need bounce back seasons from Ruiz (he had his worst season since 2008) and Jimmy Rollins (he had the worst season of his career), Byrd to prove a career-year at 35 wasn’t a fluke, Brown to prove he can replicate his breakout season and Utley to prove he can stay healthy two years in a row.

It seems like a lot of things need to break perfectly for the Phillies to score more runs next year.

Thoughts on this potential lineup for 2014?

  1. Revere, CF
  2. Rollins, SS
  3. Utley, 2B
  4. Howard, 1B
  5. Byrd, RF
  6. Brown, LF
  7. Ruiz, C
  8. Cody Asche, 3B

Phillies, Chooch Agree to $26 Million Deal

Ruiz Hits Record HeatThe Phillies are betting big Carlos Ruiz can remain a healthy and productive catcher the next three seasons.

A source today confirmed multiple reports the Phillies and Ruiz have agreed to a three-year, $26 million deal. The deal includes a $4.5 million club option or $500,000 buyout for 2017. He also can make an additional $500,000 per season if he starts 125 games, something he has never accomplished in his 10-year big-league career.

An official announcement could come later this week.

Ruiz, who turns 35 in January, carried a combined .829 OPS from 2009-12. That ranked second among 13 qualifying catchers in baseball. Only Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, who is being converted to a first baseman next season, had been better with an .891 OPS. But Ruiz posted a .688 mark last season, which ranked 23rd of 25 catchers with 300 or more plate appearances. It was his worst season at the plate since 2008. He also served a 25-game suspension for using Adderall, a banned stimulant, although FOXSports.com recently reported Ruiz has received a medical exemption for its use.

But Ruiz still had more than his share of suitors. ESPN.com reported the Red Sox had seriously pursued him because of his game-calling capabilities. The Rockies also made an offer. But in the end the Phillies guaranteed a third year and increased the average annual value of the deal to keep him in red pinstripes.

That the Phillies guaranteed an extra year is not a complete surprise. Ruiz helped the Phillies win the 2008 World Series, he is greatly admired among coaches and players and pitchers love throwing to him, most notably free-agent right-hander Roy Halladay.

The Phillies also had no internal options, and the external ones had their own flaws. The Phillies had hoped a big season from prospect Tommy Joseph in 2013 could force them to make a tough decision, but a concussion ruined his season in Triple-A. There were a few free-agent catchers on the market, but the best ones hit left-handed and the Phillies are starved for right-handed hitters in the lineup.

The fact Ruiz hits right-handed should not be undersold. The Phillies ranked 11th in the National League with a .679 OPS against left-handers last season. Their only other right-hander in the lineup is outfielder Marlon Byrd, who the Phillies recently signed to a two-year, $16 million deal.

But Ruiz’s age, position, injury history (he has been on the disabled list each of the previous five seasons) and 2013 performance at the plate make this deal a risky one. The Phillies hope Ruiz’s finish last season – he posted a .795 OPS in his final 43 games – is a sign he will be OK at the plate.

Either way, the Phillies have checked catcher and corner outfielder from the offseason to-do list. Next up: improve the second-worst pitching staff in the National League.

Amaro: We’ve Already Made Offers

Ruben Amaro Jr.,The free-agent market opened yesterday and Ruben Amaro Jr. wasted no time.

“We’ve already made offers on several players,” he said from Arizona, where he is watching some of the organization’s top young talent in the Arizona Fall League.

Amaro declined to divulge names, but he can be aggressive. He moved quickly in Nov. 2011, when he signed closer Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million contract. Knowing there is a lack of power hitters available, perhaps Amaro is making a push to sign one. They need right-handed hitters in the worst way.

Nelson Cruz, 33, fits the bill. He hits right-handed, although he served a 50-game suspension last season and is not a defensive stalwart. Amaro has stressed the Phillies need to improve its outfield defense.

Carlos Beltran and Mike Morse also are free agents. The Phillies have tried to acquire them in the past. (Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said yesterday on SiriusXM that one team already has made an offer to Beltran.) The two biggest free-agent outfielders are Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo, but they are expected to sign elsewhere.

Amaro said in September resigning catcher Carlos Ruiz was a top priority, but he couched that possibility this week.

“Well, we’re fortunate now that it’s kind of opened up,” Amaro said of the free-agent market. “There are several candidates that could be our catcher next year. We’ll see what happens. I mean, we’re in the open season.”

If the Phillies cannot resign Ruiz, there are options like Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski. But McCann hits left-handed and seems destined to join an American League team. Pierzynski also hits left-handed, and Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter that has a career .599 OPS hitting from the right side.

The Phillies could sign a less expensive catcher like Dioner Navarro, which would allow them to spend money elsewhere. But Ruiz seems like the best of the bunch, although he turns 35 in January and is coming off his worst offensive season since 2008.

The Phillies also are trying to upgrade their pitching staff, but if Amaro is trying to be aggressive, improving an anemic offense – the Phillies tied for 26th in baseball with just 610 runs scored – might be the place to start.

*

The Phillies have hired Scott Freedman to be their analytics guy.

UPDATE: Wanted to clarify something about Freedman. He is not a full-time Phillies employee. MLB is paying his salary as part of a partnership with the Phillies, although the Phillies have the opportunity to hire him permanently once his externship concludes before the beginning of the regular season.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 305 other followers