Results tagged ‘ Darin Ruf ’
The Phillies signed Ryan Howard to a five-year, $125 million contract extension in April 2010 partly because they believed making a deal more than a year before he hit free agency would become a bargain with fellow first basemen Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez scheduled to hit free agency at the same time.
It hasn’t worked as planned.
Howard is struggling through arguably the worst season of his career, following two injury-riddled seasons, and Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg is ready to look at other options at first base, something unimaginable just a few years ago.
“I know what Ryan Howard can do,” Sandberg said this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. “I think it’s also important to see what other guys can do.”
Darin Ruf started at first base against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, and he could be there more often going forward, although Sandberg said that decision will be made daily. Triple-A infielder Maikel Franco could see playing time at first, if he gets healthy and gets called up in September. Asked if this means he is looking for Howard’s replacement at first base, Sandberg said, “No, but I think it’s also important to see and gauge other players to see where they’re at.”
Howard is making $25 million this season, which makes him the highest-paid position player in baseball. He has $60 million remaining on his contract over the next two seasons, which includes a $10 million buyout on a club option worth $23 million in 2017.
Sandberg said the massive contract isn’t a factor in filling out his lineup card.
“It’s also about wins and losses out here,” Sandberg said. “When the game starts it’s about winning the game and being productive and chipping in and doing the part and doing something to help win a game. If that means playing somebody else there and there’s production right away that’s trying to win a baseball game.”
It could come in the form of trades before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, injured players finally getting healthy or Minor Leaguers finally getting a shot.
“It’s disappointing, particularly the offense,” Amaro said about the Phillies’ performance. “What more can you say other than we’re not swinging the bats very well? I didn’t anticipate our guys being this poor. Because they are. They are this poor. We think that they’re better. But they haven’t shown it. So at some point we’re going to have to make some changes. Some guys, once they are ready to play, may be factors for us.”
The Phillies hit just .206 and averaged just 2.56 runs a game over their recent 3-13 slide. They hit .148 with runners in scoring position in that stretch. For the season, the Phillies are 26th in baseball in runs per game (3.75) and 29th in OPS (.661), despite having a franchise-record $180 million payroll and nearly every high-paid hitter healthy.
Possible changes include Triple-A outfielders Darin Ruf and Grady Sizemore and infielders Maikel Franco and Freddy Galvis.
“Whoever else in the organization may be factors for us,” Amaro said. “We have to get them healthy and see if it behooves us to make any of those changes.”
Ruf is recovering from a knee and wrist injury, Sizemore can opt out of his contract over the All-Star break if he is not in the Phillies’ plans, Galvis is recovering from a broken collarbone and Franco is trying to get on track after struggling most of the season.
Franco, who was the organization’s top hitting prospect entering the season, is hitting .342 (13-for-38) with two doubles, one triple, one home run and eight RBIs in the past nine games.
“He’s swinging the bat well,” Amaro said. “Hey, listen, I’m looking for people who can swing the bat. Because we’re not doing it here. If he gets to the point where he starts swinging the bat consistently, he’s a guy who could be in play too.”
But Franco plays third base and Phillies third baseman Cody Asche warrants a longer look. Could both be on the field at the same time?
“Yeah, because he could play first base, too,” Amaro said about Franco.
Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is hitting .230 with 14 home runs, 51 RBIs and a .701 OPS, which ranks 114th out of 165 qualifying hitters in baseball.
Amaro said there is still interest in his players, despite their poor play recently. He also said the front office has been active in pursuing improvements.
“Whether we’ll actually get it done or if there is something that can improve us, it depends on how our club is being evaluated,” Amaro said. “If we’re going to make changes, we make changes to get better. Everything we think about is thinking about how we can improve our club. Will we be better? That’s what you have to analyze.”
A few thoughts about last night’s 6-2 loss to the Rockies:
- Will we ever seen Ben Revere homer again? He finally homered in the 1,466th at-bat of his career. It was the longest homerless stretch to start a career since Frank Taveras went 1,594 at-bats without a homer from 1972-77.
- Darin Ruf isn’t a savior, but he has warranted additional playing time. Not because he hit a home run last night, but because the Phillies need to try something different in left field and possibly at first base while Domonic Brown is struggling overall and Ryan Howard is struggling against lefties. Brown’s .567 OPS is the sixth lowest out of 169 qualifying hitters in baseball. Putting some historical perspective into it, Brown’s .582 OPS as a left fielder — his overall OPS is lower — would be the fifth lowest out of 558 qualifying left fielders in baseball from 1990-2014. The White Sox’s Alejandro De Aza (.533 OPS in 2014), Seattle’s Mike Felder (.545 in 1993), Seattle’s Brian Hunter (.571 in 1999) and Kansas City’s Chuck Knoblauch (.582 in 2002) are lower. Even if Ruf posts an OPS 50 points lower than his career average of .838, it would still be 221 points higher than what Brown is giving the Phillies right now.
- The Phillies raved about Jeff Manship‘s performance in Spring Training. But Manship still had a 6.42 ERA in 52 appearances over parts of five big-league seasons, which seemed like a pretty good predictor of the future. Manship has a 7.53 ERA in 15 appearances this season. He has made just two appearances with the Phillies holding a lead, which is not a surprise. He joined the bullpen as a long man/mop-up guy. But he has made nine appearances with the game either tied or the Phillies’ in a deficit of three runs or less. In other words, winnable games. Manship has allowed at least a run in five of those appearances, posting a 13.50 ERA in those games.
- Ken Giles is 2-0 with a 0.84 ERA in eight appearances with Triple-A. He has allowed five hits, one run, five walks and has struck out seven in 10 1/3 innings. His strikeout rate has plummeted since the promotion from Double-A (17.4 per nine innings to 5.9), while his walks rate has inched upward (3.0 to 4.2). That is not a recipe for success, but Triple-A hitters aren’t squaring up the ball, either. That should tell you something, too. Give the kid a shot. The Phillies have nothing to lose at this point.
- Right-hander Mike Adams, recovering from right shoulder surgery (retroactive to March 26).
- Infielder Freddy Galvis, left knee infection (retroactive to March 21).
- Right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, right shoulder tendinitis (retroactive to March 21).
- Left-hander Cole Hamels, left biceps tendinitis (retroactive to March 21).
- Right-hander Ethan Martin, right shoulder inflammation (retroactive to March 21).
- Outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf, left oblique strain (retroactive to March 21).
Adams hopes he can rejoin the Phillies bullpen by April 15. Galvis, who is recovering from MRSA, could be back by the middle of the month, too.
The Phillies have indicated Hamels could rejoin the rotation before the end of April.
The Phillies said on March 21 that Ruf could miss 4-6 weeks. Martin just started throwing, and Ruben Amaro Jr. said recently Gonzalez could be a candidate for the 60-day DL to give them flexibility for the 40-man roster.
He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, which ends his chances of making the Opening Day roster.
Ruf said he had been feeling some tightness in his oblique for about a week, but he did not consider it anything serious, so he made no mention to the athletic training staff. He felt he would be fine if he simply took more time to warm up and stretch before workouts and games.
“It was one swing (Thursday during batting practice) that kind of took it to another level,” Ruf said.
Ruf could not help but think about the Opening Day roster implications after it happened. He had a good chance to make the team as a reserve outfielder/first baseman.
“Just when I was experiencing tightness that kind of crossed my mind,” Ruf said. “When that swing happened it was very disappointing.”
Chase Utley spent nearly a month on the disabled list last season with a strained oblique, and Carlos Ruiz spent three weeks on the DL in 2009 with the same injury.
Freddy Galvis, who was a lock to the make the Opening Day roster as a utility infielder, is in the hospital with a staph infection. He had an abscess removed from his left knee earlier this week. He could miss at least 2-3 weeks.
Darin Ruf, who was a strong candidate to make the Opening Day roster as a reserve outfielder/first baseman, is scheduled to have a MRI today. He strained his left oblique while taking batting practice yesterday. Ruf is hopeful he can be back soon, but hitters typically need a couple weeks to recover from it.
Galvis and Ruf could join left-hander Cole Hamels and right-handers Mike Adams, Jonathan Pettibone, Ethan Martin and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez on a crowded disabled list with Opening Day just 10 days away.
The Galvis and Ruf setbacks have considerable implications for the Phillies bench. The Phillies have considered carrying a six-player bench the first couple weeks of the season as they only need four starting pitchers until April 14. If the Phillies still plan to carry six bench players they could carry outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr., Bobby Abreu and John Mayberry Jr.; infielders Kevin Frandsen and Ronny Cedeno; and catcher Wil Nieves.
Cedeno and Reid Brignac are both in camp fighting for a utility infield job. Cedeno might be the better bet at this point only because he is considered a better defensive player. Galvis is the best defensive infielder on the team, so they need somebody to try to replicate that.
Galvis had the abscess removed Wednesday, and he had hoped to rest for a couple days before trying to get back on the field this weekend. Ruf said he had been feeling some tightness in his oblique for about a week, but did not consider it anything serious. He felt he would be fine if he simply took more time to warm up and stretch before workouts and games.
“It was one swing that kind of took it to another level,” Ruf said. “We’ll see what the next few days bring. We’ll see if it gets back to a stage where I can play normally, if I get loose properly. Or if it’s something I’ll need to let heal completely. I don’t know.”
Ruf could not help but think about the Opening Day roster implications after it happened.
“Just when I was experiencing tightness that kind of crossed my mind,” he said. “When that swing happened it was very disappointing.”
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.”
If you look at the projected Opening Day lineup you see many of the names you see today: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Domonic Brown, Ben Revere and Cody Asche. That’s five left-handed hitters. You also have Jimmy Rollins, who is stronger from the left side of the plate. That has had a few people wondering if the Phillies could take a run at Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu.
But one source said yesterday it doesn’t seem to be a fit because Abreu is a hulking first baseman and is not a candidate to play the outfield.
In other words, Ryan Howard is in his way. He has three years and $85 million remaining on his contract.
But so is Darin Ruf and Maikel Franco. Ruf has pop and can play first base. Franco is the organization’s top hitting prospect. He came up as a third baseman, but the Phillies are trying him at first base to give them more options. If Franco becomes what the Phillies project him to be they already have a right-handed first baseman with pop. And at a whole lot less money.
They released him today when he refused an assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Young was designated for assignment Friday when the Phillies decided rightfielder Darin Ruf needed regular playing time as they evaluate their needs entering the offseason. Ruf could be an everyday player in 2014 as he is one of the only right-handed bats in the lineup. He has been productive to this point, hitting .274 with seven doubles, six home runs, 11 RBIs and an .888 OPS in 124 plate appearances.
Young hit .261 with 13 doubles, eight home runs, 31 RBIs and a .699 OPS in 291 plate appearances.
He made about $1.75 million from the Phillies.
“He ended up having a couple different streaks where he swung the bat OK, but he really didn’t do the things we hoped he would do,” said Ruben Amaro Jr., who indicated he would take a shot again with Young. “I’ll say it again. I think at some point he may end up being a much better hitter. I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes back next year for somebody and has a much better year. You just don’t know how guys are going to react to certain situations or certain opportunities.”
Instead, they activated him a day early.
They designated Laynce Nix for assignment to make room for him on the 25-man roster. I thought the Phillies might release Delmon Young, making room for Brown in right to keep Darin Ruf in left. But they have decided to try Ruf in right field instead, pushing Young to the bench. It should be interesting. Ruf has never played right field before and had not played much outfield before this season. But I guess the Phillies figure Ruf can be as adequate as Young, maybe even a little better? I’m not sure.
But parting ways with Nix is another negative mark on the season in regards to the front office’s player personnel evaluations. The Phillies signed Nix to a two-year, $2.5 million contract in Dec. 2011, despite the fact he had never signed a guaranteed big-league deal before. Nix followed a two-year deal to outfielder Ross Gload. (I wonder if anybody else would have offered Nix or Gload a two-year deal.) The Phillies in November then non-tendered Nate Schierholtz because they figured they already had a left-handed-hitting fourth outfielder in Nix.
Schierholtz signed with the Cubs and enters tonight hitting .268 with 23 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs, 43 RBIs, a .500 slugging percentage and .827 OPS in 337 plate appearances. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, his slugging percentage would rank fifth among 22 big-league rightfielders. His OPS would rank seventh.
Nix, meanwhile, hit .180 with four doubles, two homers, seven RBIs, a .258 slugging percentage and a .486 OPS in 136 plate appearances.
Now what is interesting is Schierholtz never would have put up those numbers with the Phillies because they never would have provided him enough opportunity to play. They were committed to Young in right field once he got healthy — they needed a right-handed bat in the lineup — and Charlie Manuel doesn’t make it a habit of playing his bench players unless absolutely necessary. They simply didn’t think Schiertholtz was good enough to warrant a spot on the roster, much less playing time. But the point is they missed badly on Schierholtz over Nix. Schierholtz was the much better player and they simply let him go.
This follows decisions like John Bowker over Brandon Moss, releasing Jason Grilli, believing Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. could be everyday corner outfielders, Danys Baez, Chad Qualls, Chad Durbin, not developing a utility player in the system better than Michael Martinez, etc. Now it should be noted every front office makes mistakes. Remember that Pat Gillick acquired Adam Eaton, Geoff Jenkins and Freddy Garcia. But too many decisions lately have landed in the minus column than the plus column. Certainly injuries to players like Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Mike Adams, etc., over the past couple years have played a role in this team’s struggles. But those personnel decisions have hurt, too.