Monday, February 8, 2010

Will Randy Ruiz ever be free?

By
Image courtesy of Flickr user _Topher_
He has all the tools to be a deadly Designated Hitter, yet I can't help but think that Randy Ruiz is going to spend the better part of the 2010 season in Las Vegas instead of in Toronto where he rightfully belongs.

This is same Randy Ruiz who was the 2009 Pacific League Coast MVP. The same Randy Ruiz who posted a 1.019 OPS in 130 plate appearances with the Blue Jays this past season. The same Randy Ruiz who raked in Winter Leagues with 7 home runs and 27 RBI's.

This is the very same Randy Ruiz who is going to have to fight tooth and nail to make the Blue Jays Opening Day roster.

Ruiz has proven himself to this organization time and time again, and has done nothing but exceed expectations, whether it be in the minor leagues or his brief (albeit impressive) stint in the big leagues. No matter how well he hits, the Blue Jays just can't quite commit to giving Randy Ruiz a spot on their roster.

Knowing that he needed to step up his game physically, Ruiz is arguably in the best shape of his career, having lost 30 pounds this off season and continues to impress with his Puerto Rico squad in the Caribbean Series.

Earlier in January, Drew from Ghostrunner on First wrote an excellent piece on Randy Ruiz' uncanny ability to knock just about any pitch out of the park. Some would argue that he's a one trick pony and only built to hit home runs, but if that's the case, then he's the equivalent of Seabiscuit for hitting home runs.

It's fully understandable that no roster position should ever be automatically be handed to players. Especially with young talent like Travis Snider, it should be reiterated that they should have to earn their spot on the team and not feel like they are obligated to make the roster out of Spring Training. The same goes for a career journeyman like Randy Ruiz - you have to earn your stripes on the team.

Despite all that, it feels like no matter what Randy Ruiz does or how well he plays, he is probably going to get overlooked once again. Unless the first baseman position suddenly opens up or if the Jays commit to making Adam Lind the full time left fielder, Ruiz could be banished to Triple A once again.

At 32 years old, obviously Ruiz does not fit into the long term building plans for the Toronto Blue Jays. However, Alex Anthopoulos has a very valuable chess piece in Ruiz - if he convinces Cito to give Ruiz more playing time, that could significantly boost Ruiz' trade value, and down the road he could fetch a couple of prospects. The only way for Randy Ruiz to become attractive to any other team though, is if he actually gets a chance to play.

If Ruiz were to be one of the 12 or 13 hitters to break camp, who is to say that he would even receive a fair amount of playing time anyway? Cito left a perfectly healthy Randy Ruiz on the bench for six straight games back in September 2009, so I could definitely see the manager giving away his at bats to other players once again.

So what do you think - will Randy Ruiz ever be free from the clutches of Las Vegas?

13 comments:

  1. Perhaps Randy Ruiz could legally change his name to Kevin Millar. Then he would could regular at bats from Cito...

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  2. Josh Phelps, we hardly knew yee.

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  3. Anon, that's a brilliant idea. Give Ruiz a wig and some facial hair and Cito won't know the difference.

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  4. I personally want to see Ruiz get the spot at DH to start the season -- the problem is in committing to have possibly the worst defensive outfield at a time when your pitching rotation lacks a single solid veteran. Overall, I think the offensive increase is worth it (assuming Ruiz continues to hit at a reasonable clip), but you can imagine that these young pitchers will run higher ERAs and WHIPs, get more frustrated, throw more pitches for fewer innings, etc. I'd like to hear AA give a full rundown on his thinking about Ruiz and the outfield so we have a clear picture of whatever the reasoning is. It sounds like Lind is likely to be the DH, and perhaps the pitching staff is the primary reason for this.

    I also imagine that if Ruiz were as great as we feel he is, there would be significant trade value in him ... but I don't think there is. Maybe he only hits well when he has something to prove. Feels a bit like Joe Inglett.

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  5. QJays, I'm also from the school of thought that they should at least give Ruiz a crack at the DH spot.

    I think it's kind of early in Lind's career to already write him off solely as a DH. Clearly, Cito won't budge Lind off of that spot, unfortunately.

    The Jays would take a hit defensively with Lind in LF, but ultimately you need runs to win the game - and Ruiz would definitely help contribute towards the run total.

    It just sucks because I know fully well that Ruiz will get stuck in LV when he could be raking in Toronto.

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  6. Ruiz absolutely has earned the chance at an extended look at the major league level. If he doesn't then there are some really weird politics going on in Toronto.

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  7. As a Blue Jays fan, is Randy Ruiz your Andy, with you playing Red, from The Shawshank Redemption? I mean, while you'd love to see him play for your team, you have to realize that some birds were just meant to be free. (This being the Blue Jays, it works on another level, of course.)

    Ruiz doesn't really seem to have much of a role on the Blue Jays, but because he's 32, it's not like he has a ton of trade value either. I guess the best-case scenario is that he has a hot surge, and a contender in the American League needs a DH desperately.

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  8. Mattt, I hope that AA really has some say in the matter, because we know what Cito would do if it were up to him.

    Steve, I know this sounds like a huge injustice ... but I've never seen the Shawshank Redemption. It's one of those movies like Rocky or The Godfather that I just haven't gotten around to watching.

    I'm with you though on Ruiz' trade value. If they made him a full time DH and say he had an amazing first half of the season, the Jays could flip him to another team for a young arm or maybe even package Ruiz with another player to get that shortstop that AA wants so badly.

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  9. Is there any reason why you can`t have him play a little DH and platoon with Overbay at 1st? It`s not like Overbay can really hit a lefty anyway. That way he gets an extended look and the Jays don`t kill my fantasy of a true power hitter in the lineup. He reminds me of Delgado in a lot of ways. Gotta love a guy thats always a deep threat.

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  10. A platoon is definitely a great option. Ruiz hit lefties .286 last year, so that's not a bad idea to split the 1B time between Overbay/Ruiz.

    Also, knowing how Cito loved to split up the playing time at first, a platoon would also work better in Ruiz' favour.

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  11. Ian, your life isn't complete without watching Shawshank. It really is splendid, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

    AA is probably salivating at the opportunity to trade Ruiz for another catcher or young arm, yes. Too bad the A's non-tendered Bobby Crosby, because otherwise, they could have thrown him in on the Eveland deal.

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  12. never watched Shawshank???? incredible!!!! oh, and.......


    Gringo Up!!

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  13. Steve and Gil, I feel totally out of the loop for not having watched it. I promise I will catch up and watch it one day!

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