Pat Gillick must be shaking his head and thinking: how can Ruben Amaro Jr. be this dumb?
What was Jeff Daniels’ line to Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber after Carrey sold their dog-mobile for a scooter? “Just when I think you couldn’t possibly be any dumber you go and do something like this … and totally redeem yourself!” Gillick must be saying the exact opposite regarding Amaro, the man who replaced Gillick as general manager after the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.
Last week, I ripped Amaro for giving Marlon Byrd a two-year, $16 million deal that carries a vesting option that if Byrd is healthy he’ll no doubt lock in and make the deal three years for $24 million. That deals pales in comparison to the news that broke Monday that Amaro gave aging, beginning-to-breakdown catcher Carlos Ruiz a three-year, $26 million contract with an option for a fourth year.
Listen, I like Chooch. He was a player the Phillies signed for $5,000 out of Panama all the way back in 1998 who became a key part of their playoff run from 2007-11, but no way is he worth the amount of money the Phillies guaranteed him Monday. Not even close.
I’m not going to go on a full sabermetrics rant, but there advanced metric numbers you just can’t ignore on Ruiz. Last year, following his breakout 2012 season that was tainted after it was revealed Ruiz tested positive for Adderall without a prescription for the second time in his career (the first positive test doesn’t result a in suspension, but does force a player to go through more stringent testing), he posted some of the worst analytical numbers of his career. His ISO (isolated power) was .100, the second lowest number of his career. His strikeout rate of 11.4 percent tied the highest mark of Ruiz’s career (2007 when he had 88 more plate appearances). His walk rate of 5.3 percent was the lowest Ruiz has posted by almost two points. His WAR (wins above replacement) was just 1.4, the second lowest number of his career after posting a 0.6 WAR in 2008 while playing 25 more games and raking up 32 more plate appearances.
Even when you look at basic statistics, there’s no way Ruiz should have gotten the amount of money the Phillies gave him over the life of the contract he received.
He hit five home runs in 341 plate appearances, or one more than he hit in 2008. Take away August and September, when Ruiz had 16 extra base hits in 153 at-bats, he had five in 157 ABs from April-July. His OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) was the third lowest of his career. Ruiz’s slugging percentage of .368 was his seecond-worst mark after he posted a pathetic .300 in 2008.
Yes, Ruiz is a very good defender, but don’t tell me he’s worth the money because he calls a great game. If you watch a Phillies game you’ll notice Ruiz looking over at the dugout every now and then. That’s either because the coaching staff is either directing him to call a specific pitch or to call a pitchout or pickoff throw to try and control an opposing team’s running game. Because he has very quick hands, Ruiz will get lazy every now and then and try to backhand a pitch in the dirt that his veteran experience should tell him he needs to block. That’s a mistake a young player should make, not someone who has been in the Major Leagues since 2006.
There was no way Amaro was going to blow up the Phillies and rebuild. Management won’t allow that and the Phillies will be signing a new television contract in the near future that wouldn’t be helped by a team full of unknowns struggling to win 75 games. Instead, Amaro’s first two moves of the offseason have resulted in the very high posibility that the Phillies will play sub-.500 baseball with a bunch of aging players who are making way too much money for way too long.