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Phillies could get creative to find room for Darin Ruf on the roster

Feb 8, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

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By weighted on-base average (wOBA), Darin Ruf (.354) out-hit every Phillie except Chase Utley (.356). PECOTA, the projection system found at Baseball Prospectus, projects Ruf to be more valuable than All-Star Domonic Brown in 2014. And yet, most are expecting Ruf to start the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

It makes logical sense. The Phillies’ outfield is secure with Brown in left, Ben Revere in center, and Marlon Byrd in right. First base is also spoken for with Ryan Howard. Catcher Wil Nieves, infielder Kevin Frandsen, and outfielder John Mayberry, Jr. account for three of the likely five bench spots. Manager Ryne Sandberg sounded confident in giving infielder Freddy Galvis a spot on the bench, and GM Ruben Amaro has talked about his preference for a left-handed-hitting outfielder capable of backing up Revere in center. The Phillies also have 10 position player non-roster invitees. You can understand how it might be hard for the Phillies to find room on the roster for Ruf.

As Matt Gelb writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sandberg has thought about ways to use Ruf:

Ryne Sandberg has promised to use his bench players in an effort to keep everyone sharp while securing important rest for his aged regulars. When asked whether he could find 300 plate appearances for Ruf, the manager said: “That’s possible.”

He added: “I like him at first base depending on how things go. If we need a righthanded bat against lefthanded pitching, we have the lineup for that. That could be Ruf in left field. He could be at first base.”

Howard has for years been an ideal platoon partner given his proclivity to punish right-handed pitching and his abysmal — and continuously declining — performance against lefties. Ruf mashed lefties in the minors and, despite a small-sample fluke in 2013 where he hit right-handers well and lefties poorly, would be a good partner in crime at first base with Howard. Ruf’s defense is well below average in the outfield, so the Phillies have to try and limit his defensive opportunities as much as possible.

Gelb suggests the Phillies could cut Mayberry during spring training. Mayberry and Ruf on the same roster is redundant, but because Ruf has options and Mayberry doesn’t, Gelb argues this is one reason why the Phillies may prefer to have Ruf start the season at Triple-A.

  1. DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 8, 2014 at 9:46 PM

    I do not get why Mayberry is still around. Do. Not. Get. It.

    Ruf may not be the real deal (he is what – 30% with runners on 3rd and less than two outs?), but Mayb’s days have come and gone. I love the guy on a personal level, but keeping him vs. Ruf make no sense

  2. greymares - Feb 8, 2014 at 10:07 PM

    against the Braves he can pitch. lol.

  3. hawksfan3737 - Feb 9, 2014 at 4:55 AM

    It’s simple why Mayberry is around. He is the ONLY guy other than Revere who can play CF. If Revere gets hurt, who backs him up? If they had kept Bernadina, they could have had he and Ruf as backup outfielders and Ruf could have also gotten ABs in interleague play or spelling Howard. RAJ just has NO clue how to build a roster.

    • paperlions - Feb 9, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      Byrd played solid CF in both 2011 and 2012, better than Mayberry. If Revere gets hurt, Byrd in CF and Ruf in RF would be more productive than Mayberry in CF and Byrd in RF.

  4. hawksfan3737 - Feb 9, 2014 at 5:04 AM

    By the way, I wasn’t suggesting Mayberry SHOULD be on the roster! LOL. Just stating RAJ backed himself into a corner and now it’s us Phils fans who will now have to watch Abreu and Mayberry all year long. SMH

  5. chew1985 - Feb 9, 2014 at 5:16 AM

    We’re forgetting Bobby Abreu in the mix here. And then there’s Glenn Wilson…and the ghost of Chuck Klein has been invited to Spring Training. These are “problems” other GMs only can fantasize about, but Rube will have all the answers by opening day.

  6. yahmule - Feb 9, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    Not only is Ruf a better option than Mayberry, he’s probably not much more flawed than Dom Brown. Take away May of last season when Brown hit 12 home runs – which pitchers essentially did, but forcing him to expand his strike zone about a week into June – and you have a league average hitter. I believe the 27 home runs Brown hit last year will be the high water mark for his career. Unless scouting reports gets lax and teams start throwing him too many strikes again.

  7. grnthghs - Feb 9, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    Brown is a good hitter just injury prone like so many these days. He was having a great year – gets hurt and loses his stroke – when you’re hot, your’re hot and injury strikes the rhythm gets lost – not necesarily forever – depends on the player – its between the ears mostly

  8. grnthghs - Feb 9, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    Also, Ruf is a good hitter, but the obvious dilemma that we are talking about is where to play a good hitter/ no dee guy without the DH. But I really hope that the NL never does the DH, I hate it! Ruined the game with the pitchers not batting. Took so much strategy away from the game.

  9. drs76109 - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    what a rube.

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