Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Maybe Ruiz hasn't been freed after all


By
Randy Ruiz may have finally escaped the clutches of the minor leagues, but maybe he isn't free after all.

After numerous Spring Training tryouts, Ruiz made a giant step forward by making his way onto the Blue Jays Opening Day roster. Unfortunately, that's just half the battle.

Any chances of platooning the first base position were all but thrown out the window once Cito Gaston decided Lyle Overbay would be the starting first baseman for the 2010 season. And with Adam Lind all but locked up as the designated hitter, it doesn't leave much room for Randy Ruiz.

Initially, I was hopeful that Randy Ruiz could possibly rack up 300+ at bats and make 2010 his coming out party. Now I'm starting to think that he might be lucky to get even half of those plate appearances.

With Cito's decision to keep Ruiz on the bench during Monday's game against the Rangers, it's apparent he would prefer to keep Overbay's defensive prowess in the game as opposed to the offensive upside from Ruiz. So if the game is close or tied in late innings, Ruiz will not probably not be pinch hitting for Lyle Overbay.

However, if the lineup gets down to the bottom of the order, Cito does have the option of pinch-hitting Ruiz for John Buck, Alex Gonzalez, or even Travis Snider. Each of them could be easily replaced the following inning by Jose Molina, John McDonald, or Mike McCoy.

Let's keep in mind though that in the 33 games Randy Ruiz started last year, all but three were as the designated hitter. That makes it very unlikely Ruiz will see any fielding time this season. Aside from the odd day off for Lyle Overbay or Adam Lind, I'm afraid those are the only instances Ruiz will get a chance to hit.

The downside is by committing to Lyle Overbay as the starting first baseman and Adam Lind as the everyday designated hitter, the playing time for Randy Ruiz is going to decrease even more. It's a shame because Ruiz had to fight tooth and nail just to make the 25-man roster, and now he has to continue to fight just to sneak in an at-bat here and there.

Yet for a guy who has spent 11 seasons in the minors, Randy Ruiz has overcome bigger obstacles before. In the meantime, Ruiz waits for his time to shine.

10 comments:

  1. I had no problem with Overbay facing Oliver; Lyle was batting .313 against Oliver in his career at that point (5-for-16). Not pinch-hitting for Buck is another story.

    Through all the Cito-bashing I've been reading of late, the lineup I'd most like to see is with JoBau at 3B, Lind in left, Snider in right, and Ruiz DHing. Why the hell not? Sure, we'll have some God-awful defense in the outfield, but I think the way the Jays will win games this year is by outscoring there opponents, and that's where Randy comes in.

    But, that being said, it looks like Lind is a DH and a DH only to the Jays. Not that I'm complaining. But, you know.

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  2. eyeB, I had a little time to simmer down after Monday's loss and I realized that leaving Overbay in to hit against Oliver was the right decision.

    What kills me is that we have Randy Ruiz, who could potentially hit 20 HR's this season, just wasting away on the bench.

    I would love to see a Lind/Wells/Snider outfield and Bautista at third. That way, Lind isn't taking up the DH spot.

    But alas, it's probably all a pipe dream.

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  3. The problem with Overbay gainst oliver is that he doesn't hit lefties well now than he used to. Overbay's value is declining fast and the jays need to trade him in july 31st deadline.

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  4. eye-b is dead on. buck should NEVER be hitting in that situation, especially when molina is a defensive UPGRADE. PH for buck there, give ruiz a shot.

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  5. Although, if you pinch-hit for Buck ( a guy who the Jays have absolutely no use for in the long term), it might destroy his confidence 3 or 4 years down the line! We have to lose ONE game now, so that Buck can win TWO games in the future (for whatever team he happens to be playing for, since it won't be the Jays). Or at least, I think that's how Cito would justify it...

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  6. Everyone's a God damn manager around here. It's going to be a long season.

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  7. AndyMc didn't buck almost hit a double just foul.

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  8. Kartik, the plus side of Overbay being the everyday first baseman is he is going to get a lot of playing time between now and the trade deadline. But that also could be a negative if it turns out he has a bad first half of the season.

    Andy, decisions decisions. Only Clarence knows whats going on inside that head of his.

    Hilleraj, I don't think they're that concerned with Buck. Like you said, he's only there for one year - I'd be more concerned with how constantly hitting Snider in the nine spot is going to affect HIS confidence.

    eyeB, you just reminded me - I totally should have named my fantasy baseball team the "Armchair Managers". Note to self for next year!

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  9. I think Ruiz is just happy to be making 400K this year, to be honest.

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  10. Anon, me too. Just for fun, I was curious of Ruiz could actually qualify for Rookie of the Year if he put up great numbers this season.

    Unfortunately to qualify for ROY, you have to have less than 130 at bats in previous seasons - Ruiz has 177.

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