There’s an old baseball saying that says to never trust anything you see in April or September, but all indications are that the Philadelphia Phillies are going to go ahead and make a big decision based on what they’ve seen in September.
The club seems inclined to try to make a deal with Carlos Ruiz to continue as their catcher, despite the availability of a younger and more productive Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves on the market. Still, Ruiz is hitting .320 with 15 RBIs over his last 20 games and that, combined with the fact that he’s a right-handed hitter on what is primarily a left-handed hitting team, is a good argument to keep him.
Ruiz has brought his average up to .292 and seems to have answered a lot of the concerns the Phillies brass had about him during most of the season. Since his 25-game suspension for violating MLB‘s drug policy in April, it’s been a long, slow climb up to being a productive hitter.
On Saturday, he was even batting cleanup, and that says more for the Phillies losing key pieces like Domonic Brown (concussion) and Ryan Howard (knee) than it does Ruiz’s effectiveness in that role. Last year, Ruiz hit .325 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 114 games. This year, he’s played in 83 games (largely due to that 25-game suspension) and has hit .292, with only five home runs and 34 RBIs.
The decline in power numbers is most alarming and the Phillies will have to take a long, hard look at their chances signing McCann before they decide to commit to Ruiz. Even then, they should only offer him an incentive-laden one- or two-year deal.
Otherwise, that’s a big decision based on what has transpired so far in September.