Results tagged ‘ Carlos Ruiz ’
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.
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?
- Revere, CF
- Rollins, SS
- Utley, 2B
- Howard, 1B
- Byrd, RF
- Brown, LF
- Ruiz, C
- Cody Asche, 3B
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.
“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.
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.
Ruben Amaro Jr. settled into one of the blue seats a few rows from the field Saturday afternoon at Turner Field. He munched on sunflower seeds as Scott Proefrock, one of his assistant general managers, sat in the row behind him.
The Phillies had two games remaining in their disappointing 2013 season, their first losing season since 2002, but it seemed as good a time as any to look back at the team’s misfortunes and discuss ways they can improve the future. In a wide-ranging interview with the team’s traveling beat writers, Amaro discussed everything from the heat he is feeling from fans, increasing the organization’s use of analytics in player evaluation, finding an everyday right fielder, payroll and making sure they do not enter next season crossing their fingers and hoping a multitude of things go perfectly to have a chance to win.
“I always feel under the gun,” Amaro said. “I put myself under the gun. I don’t listen to a lot of it. But listen, I’m the GM of the club, so I fully expect to take heat for it. I’m the one making the decisions on player personnel. I’m accountable for the things that have happened. I didn’t have a very good year; our team didn’t have a very good year. I think we win as a team and lose as a team. The fact of the matter is that I should take a lot of heat for it. I need to be better, and our guys need to be better. We need to evaluate better, we need to make better decisions and try to create a little better mojo overall.”
The front office has missed in its player evaluations in recent seasons. Once Jayson Werth left as a free agent in 2010, the Phillies entered subsequent seasons counting on Ben Francisco, John Mayberry Jr. and Delmon Young to be productive right-handed bats in the outfield.
Since they signed relievers Chan Ho Park and Jose Contreras to one-year contracts before the 2009 and 2010 seasons, respectively, free-agent relievers Danys Baez, Chad Qualls, Chad Durbin and Mike Adams haven’t panned out. The Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million contract a couple years ago, but they found no takers before the July 31 Trade Deadline as his velocity and performance have dipped.
In the midst of that, the Phillies released reliever Jason Grilli from Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2011. He has been a force in the Pirates bullpen the past three seasons.
“We’re going to make some changes,” Amaro said. “I think we’re doing some stuff analytically to change the way do some evaluations. Look, we are going to continue to be a scouting organization. That said, I think we owe it to ourselves to look at some other ways to evaluate. We’re going to build more analytics into it. Is it going to change dramatically the way we go about our business? No, but we owe it to ourselves to at least explore other avenues. We may bring someone in from the outside, but we have not decided that yet.”
He caught the final pitch in the 2008 World Series, called the final pitch of Roy Halladay’s perfect game in 2010, made the throw to first base for the final out in Halladay’s postseason no-hitter that same season and caught many more memorable games throughout his eight-year Phillies career.
But as Chase Utley prepared to sign a two-year contract extension as early as today, Ruiz’s future with the Phillies remains a mystery. He will be a free agent following the season, and it is far from certain he returns. He turn 35 in January, he has spent each of the past five seasons on the disabled list and he is in the midst of his worst offensive season since 2008, which comes on the heels of a 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant.
But the Phillies also have nobody in their system ready to replace him on an everyday basis. If the Phillies decide to part ways with Ruiz they will have to find somebody on the free-agent market or through a trade.
“That’s not in my hands right now,” Ruiz said today. “I just want to finish the season strong. That’s not in my head right now. I can only control what I do on the field.”
Ruiz has hit two doubles and two home runs since July 29 to raise his OPS from .581 to .638, which is still the lowest mark since he posted a .620 OPS in 2008. He started the season on the suspended list, came back for a few weeks, then landed on the disabled list for a few more weeks because of a strained right hamstring.
He is expected to be sidelined three to four weeks based on the size and location of the tear.
The Phillies selected catcher Humberto Quintero’s contract from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Ruiz’s place on the roster. The Phillies placed right-hander Mike Adams on the disabled list with a strained back to make room for Quintero. Right-hander Tyler Cloyd will take Ruiz’s spot on the roster tomorrow.
Ruiz injured the hamstring running the bases in the second inning Sunday in a 3-2 victory over the Reds at Citizens Bank Park. He had hit .235 (12-for-51) with two doubles and two RBIs in 16 games after missing the first 25 games of the season because of a suspension for using a banned stimulant, although he had hit .325 (10-for-31) in his previous 10 games.
Phillies catchers have a .582 on-base-plus-slugging percentage this season, which ranks 27th in baseball. They were counting on Ruiz to boost that position upon his contract, but he lasted less than a month.
“We were comfortable with the (catching) situation we had to start the season,” assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. “Q did a good job for us. I think we’re comfortable with what we have. We’re not going to stop looking, but I don’t think we’re actively out there pursuing anything. But you keep your eyes and ears open.”
Ruiz is serving a 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant. Assuming there are no postponements in the Phillies’ schedule, Ruiz can join the Phillies on Sunday against the Mets at Citi Field.
Phillies catchers have a combined .614 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which ranked 25th in baseball entering tonight’s games. Ruiz has a career .781 OPS and a career-high .935 OPS last season.
X-rays came back negative. The Phillies said he is day to day.
That is a big relief. Ruiz is serving his 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant, but is eligible to rejoin the team April 28 against the Mets at Citi Field. They need him back badly. Phillies catchers have a .480 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which is the third-worst mark in baseball.
Only the Marlins (.446) and Reds (.430) have gotten less production from their catchers.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz is still serving his 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant, and is eligible to rejoin the team April 28 against the Mets at Citi Field. But the Phillies could use him much earlier than that. Phillies catchers entered tonight’s game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park with a .486 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which ranked 29th in baseball. Only Reds catchers (.326 OPS) have been worse.
Phillies catchers had an .861 OPS last season, which was the best in baseball. Ruiz has a career .781 OPS with a career-high .935 OPS last season.
Humberto Quintero is scheduled to catch Kyle Kendrick tonight. He entered the night hitting .222 (2-for-9) with one double. Erik Kratz entered the night hitting .171 (7-for-41) with two doubles, one home run and three RBIs.
Asked if he might use these final 12 days to evaluate his catchers, Charlie Manuel said, “They can count. When people start coming back we’re going to have to make some changes on our roster.”
But Manuel added anytime any of his hitters feel like stringing together some hits he will take it.