There are a couple of weak links on your 2009 Philadelphia Phillies. They go by the names Eric Bruntlett and Carlos Ruiz, two men who, rather mysteriously, still have jobs playing Major League-level professional baseball with the Phillies.
Bruntlett, who came over in the Lidge trade and, yes, scored the winning run in Game 3 of the ’08 World Series, is having a miserable season off the bench and spot starting. He’s hitting .139/.207/.208 for the year in 84 plate appearances. For reference, the Kansas City Royals finally designated infielder Tony Pena, Jr. for assignment today. Pena, the worst player in Major League baseball over the past two seasons, was batting a robust .156/.178/.192 in 288 plate appearances since the start of the 2008 season.
I suppose Bruntlett’s only saving grace in that comparison is that he can kind of draw a walk. And no, I’m not buying that for a dollar, either. In 12 starts, he has an OBP of .174 with an incredible .114 BABIP. His 2008 was almost as bad, so don’t think this isn’t overdue.
There seems to be some perceived value in Bruntlett’s ability to play multiple positions. Just about any infield position is fair game for him, with a little bit of left field sprinkled in. The Phillies already have five outfielders on the big league roster – Ibanez, Victorino, Werth, Stairs and Mayberry – so there’s really no need for him out there. True, he does seem to be the only viable middle infield replacement, but Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins never need defensive replacements and so rarely sit that he barely gets to start at those positions.
Oh, and don;t forget that Bruntlett will be eligible for arbitration for the final time this coming offseason. Let’s not even give this a chance to get worse.
His replacement is unimportant. Anyone can bat that poorly. Why not give a young guy a chance? If someone’s going to suck – and I always say this – I’d rather it be a young player. There’s no point in letting good, young talent ferment in Triple-A while the big league club has to deal with the ineptitude of a guy who really must be owed about 20 favors.
Parting shot: Bruntlett ranks 825th in VORP at -8.1. Eight hundred and twenty-four players are better than Eric Bruntlett, and he would be far lower were it not for his low PA total. For reference, there are only 838 players on the entire list, and J.A. Happ has only a -2.1 VORP. As a hitter.
As for Ruiz, well, he’s better, but not nearly good enough. He’s been absolutely rancid since early June, hitting .139/.184/.181 with 0 HR, 4 BB, 12 K, 10 H (2 XBH) in 22 games since June 4. Meanwhile, hot prospect Lou Marson has righted his ship in AAA, hitting .298/.377/.370 in 181 ABs. The slugging isn’t great, but then, not every catcher can be Brian McCann. Hell, I’ll take a .300-flat OBP from the catcher spot at this point, much less .377.
Oh, and guess when Ruiz becomes arbitration eligible for the first time, and stays eligible for the next three season? You bet: this coming offseason.
Ruiz has proven to be nothing more than a backup, yet he consistently starts games and has enveloped the bottom of the lineup in a black hole for almost two seasons; hell, for his entire career! With a career line of .241/.330/.361 in what amounts to almost three full seasons, when comes the point where the welcome mat wears out?
Actually, yeah. It was yesterday.