Help is on the way!
The Phillies have been struggling to stay afloat during the first few weeks of the season missing a guy who up until last year was completely underrated by MLB but not by Phillies fans. Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz has been a key cog in this team’s success since his debut in 2006. Not only does Chooch’s presence behind the plate help the pitching staff as he boasts a career catchers ERA of 3.82. In 2012, he also had a career year hitting as well by putting up a very impressive .325/.394/.540 slash line while belting 16 home runs and driving in 68 runs. All of which are career highs for him.
Take in mind that he missed more than a month during the dog days of summer also. After an offseason where he tested positive the second time for Adderall earning himself a 25 game suspension to start the 2013 season we have seen his backups struggle immensely. The current Phillies catchers have combined for 9 hits through the first 17 games of the season. With an estimated April 28th return of the soft-spoken Panamanian I wanted to project what I want Charlie to pencil on a lineup card on that date.
I took two things into account: Delmon Young still not on the roster and everyone else has remained healthy.
1. Jimmy Rollins – While I like the fact that Charlie has given Revere the opportunity to leadoff it just hasn’t worked. The old adage is as Rollins goes, the Phillies go. It is time to put him back in the leadoff spot to shake things up.
2. Chase Utley – Many people will argue with this but your best hitter should be in the 2 spot. In this spot in the order, you need a player that can draw walks, drive in runs, and also be able to move runners over and give your leadoff guy a chance to get into scoring position for your 3, 4, and 5 hitters. It is also time to break up Utley and Howard because left handed pitchers kill them late in games.
3. Michael Young – He is a very good situational hitter who still has a lot of hits left in his bat. He will not hit a lot of home runs but he can still find the gaps and move runners over and drive them in. A career .302 hitter is a good fit for the 3 hole in the Phillies lineup.
4. Ryan Howard – Regardless of how bad he has looked at the plate this year so far, the big piece is still a dangerous hitter and is a notoriously slow starter.
5. Carlos Ruiz - Chooch is an OBP machine, he walks, and he works pitchers, and has a knack for driving in clutch runs. Ruiz returning in this spot could also help Howard attract better pitches especially if 2012 Ruiz returns.
6. Domonic Brown - He still has some work to do but I like his approach at the plate and his power seems to be finally coming along. He will walk and make pitchers throw strikes which are what the Phillies sorely need him to do.
7. John Mayberry - The spot in the lineup could be Nix also depending on who is pitching for the opposition. Mayberry and Nix have been productive so far this year so this spot is reserved for them.
8. Ben Revere – After leading off to start the year and putting up an abysmal .194/.242/.194 slash line so far. He does have 5 stolen bases but he has not been getting on base at a high enough level for me to logically leave him in the lead off position.
If and when Delmon Young returns, the lineup could change again but I truly doubt his ability to play the outfield on a regular basis. While the offense continues to struggle, as fans we just to have to hope the return of 51 could bring a spark to this team that is fighting to stay afloat right now.
As always, just keep Phighting!