-As Carlos Ruiz pulled up lame yesterday in Denver, a few things stuck out in my mind. One, he’s one guy the Phillies can ill-afford to lose at this juncture, especially with an entire triage unit set up in the bowels of Citizens Bank Park. There is no “real” backup, as Brian Schneider is disabled, and I’m pretty sure the Phils don’t want Paul Hoover back there for the long haul.
Also, it pained me to see him limp because of what he has accomplished this season. Ruiz is well on his way to a spot on the NL All-Star roster, which might not mean much to the average fan, but is still a big deal to those playing. Chooch is absolutely deserved of the honor (as of now, anyway) and he’s the only one on the team who’s holding them back. And by holding them back, I mean being the only one who hasn’t been to the Midsummer Classic. Let’s hope he’s back in a few days.
-Jimmy Rollins is reportedly doing well in his first action down in extended Spring Training. He hit a couple of doubles yesterday shifting between different games in Clearwater. Obviously the real test will come when he has to run at full speed in the field; his lateral movement was what pained him.
Consider this: Once Jimmy comes back to the lineup (some are saying he’s a week or two away) could Carlos Ruiz actually suffer? Since April 11 when Rollins played his last game before hitting the DL, Chooch has raised his average 59 points and his OPS over 200 points. Over the past six games since being moved up in the order to the #7 spot, Ruiz has raised that average over 30 points, a huge jump in that short amount of time. He’s thriving there, but once J-Roll comes back and Victorino is shifted to seventh in the order, will Ruiz see as many pitches to hit?
-The fall of Brad Lidge continues. Yesterday, he was sent home by the team to have that balky elbow examined – certainly not a good sign. It’s a shame too, because shades of old BL were reaching the surface recently. Yes, he was aided by the wind in his first save of the season, but his pitches seemed to be there. His slider looked nearly as devastating and his fastball still had good pop.
What’s next? Well Jose Contreras has to be your closer. He has the best stuff out there, and the coaches trust him more at this point than Danys Baez. For those pining for them to trade for a closer; easier said than done. They owe Brad Lidge mucho dinero over the next two seasons, so they’ll look for any return on investment they can. Once he’s healthy, or IF he’s healthy, he will get ever opportunity to get back the closers role.
It may not be what you want to hear, but the Phillies won’t purge their farm system, or take Victorino or Jayson Werth and trade them for a closer. They are a fragile creature, those closers. One minutes their dominating, the next they’re on their ass on the street. Just too much uncertainty. Looks like the Phils will be going with what they have, at least for the time being.
-For fans of other teams complaining about the Phillies getting 84 games: save it. Blame the Blue Jays and Major League Baseball. Actually, you CAN blame our fans for selling out CBP every game; that’s why Toronto wanted to play here. They’ll make gate money in the process. Paul Beeston, the Blue Jays President, said they will break-even revenue-wise. However, if they were to play at a neutral site, it’s likely Toronto would lose money, a definite no-no for a team paying Vernon Wells $86 million from 2011 to 2015. Show them the money.