Guest Columnist: Kram Jr. on Trades and Ruf

Junior has stuff on his mind. I told him to write it down.  This is what he came up with.  My rebuttal follows in the comment section.  Be gentle.

Trade Deadline:  What to Expect

By:  Kram Jr.

            The date is 7/3; the MLB Trade Deadline is fast approaching.  It is the Christmas of baseball season where your favorite player could end up on a team other than yours.  I am going to talk about what the Phillies might do (though it’s hard to say with Amaro Jr.) and who they might trade.  This is important to any loyal Ironpigs fan such as me, because we might get the opportunity to see young stars blossom on an All-Star like roster come the end of this year and the beginning of the 2014 season.

The Phillies are under .500 again and it might be time for the fans to begin to think about giving up on playoff hopes.  They have many pieces that would be valuable to other teams who are making a run at the post-season.  A few of the guys on the trading block could be guys like Jonathon Papelbon, Cliff Lee, and Chase Utley.

Jonathon Papelbon is a Closing Pitcher making roughly $10 million.  He is under contract for at least another year making him a valuable piece.  Teams like Detroit and Boston (where “Paps” came from) are teams without a Closing Pitcher looking to make a playoff run.  Detroit’s #1 prospect, a Toledo MudHen – Nick Castellanos is a perfect fit for the Phillies, and the perfect piece should that deal go through, as he is a power-hitting corner outfielder with plus bat, medium speed, and average fielding.  One of Boston’s high-end prospects is Jackie Bradley, a guy who was picked one spot after Larry Greene Jr. in the 1st round of the 2011 draft.  Bradley having already made the bigs, and has shown that he’s a 5-tool player.  As a corner outfielder, he has shown reasonable power with plus speed and bat.  His fielding is also good giving the Phillies a strong, young corner outfielder.

This brings me to Chase Utley, who still has at least one contract year left.  Teams like the Royals and Colorado have voiced interest in Chase.   The Royals have the number one prospect system in the bigs, so the Phillies could see more young prospects coming up through their system if they trade with KC.  Guys like Kyle Zimmer, a 21 year old with a superior fastball that can touch upper-90s and Bubba Starling, and speedy corner outfield with good power and fielding are viable canidates for a trade with Kansas City.  Colorado only has two relevant prospects, that being David Dahl and Kyle Parker.  Dahl is a left handed hitting outfielder with average hitting and speed, but great fielding.  Parker is also an outfielder with superb power, plus average, medium fielding, and mediocre, but not bad speed.  He is a little old (23) for AA, but has shown a decent average with good power.  He also has good plate discipline having a BB/K ratio of 1:2 and only striking out 40 times in 240 at-bats.

Cliff Lee has also been put onto the trading block, though it is unknown by me if any one team wants him to help in their run.

Also note that these players, while they may retain mid/long-term contracts, are not young guys by any means, as all of them are over 33 years old.  Prospects that were traded to the Phillies have been a treat to watch.  Guys such as Ethan Martin and Tommy Joseph were last year’s deals.  Guys like Tyson Gillies and Philippe Aumont were guys that came over before this year (late 2009).  I am excited to see what the Phillies do–also for new faces in Coca-Cola Park come 2014.

The Ruf Drive Photo (c) Cheryl Pursell

The Ruf Drive
Photo (c) Cheryl Pursell

Darin Ruf’s 4 Spot

By:  Kram Jr.

            Throughout the 2013 Ironpigs season, Darin Ruf has remained in control of the number 4 spot in the lineup every day that he’s played.  At the beginning of this year it made sense; he hit 38 HR in Reading last year, but due to his upper-cut swing, longer distance in left field, and more difficult pitching, he hasn’t produced home runs.  This isn’t to say that he can’t hit home runs, it’s just that we haven’t seen as many home runs as one might expect from someone who hit almost 40 a year ago in a season with no September.  Out of the 7 home runs he has hit, it’s safe to say that at least 4 of them came on the road.

First, he has an upper-cut swing that he developed in Reading when he was going on a home run tear in late 2012.  This doesn’t matter so much in Reading because the fence is at 315 feet.  This leads into my second point about ballpark size

At Coca-Cola Park, the Left Field fence is at 335 feet.  That is just to dead Left Field.  The fence then moves to 375 feet where the Capital Blue Cross Lawn is, which extends to 400 feet in dead Center Field – average distances.  In Reading though, the distances are shortened in Left and Left-Center Field by at least 15 feet; so when you see a high fly ball to the warning track at Coca-Cola Park, it’d be a home run in Reading.

Lastly, the pitching is more difficult in AAA than in AA.  This is a natural transition period that we saw in most players like Cody Asche, Ethan Martin, Leandro Castro, Tommy Joseph/Cameron Rupp, and lastly, Darin Ruf.  Guys like Asche, Martin, and Castro have already begun to adjust and shine here in AAA for the Ironpigs, but Darin Ruf has not.  He has continued to bat in the mid-260s and have mediocre homerun numbers.  His upper cut swing has resulted in ground balls and pop-flies:  both in the infield.  He has left more on base than anyone else on the team, and continues to stay at a mediocre level even though he gets playing time every day.  This is only because he’s a prospect.

Guys like Josh Fields and Cody Overbeck who put in work and still don’t get to bat in a higher position is why Darin Ruf’s playing time has upset me.  Josh Fields is currently batting .320 with 4 HR and over 30 RBI:  Certainly enough to be batting higher than the 6 spot in the batting lineup.  Cody Overbeck has an average of .250 but also has 15 HR and 45 RBI.

This is not to say that Darin Ruf shouldn’t play every day, he should.  His fielding has been spectacular considering this is his first year playing Left Field.  All I’m saying is that he should be moved down in the order to the 6 or 7 spot and let guys who are producing like Fields, Overbeck, and Castro to get more at-bats in a game.

Thank You for Reading My Article,

Kram Jr.


Categories: CherylPursellsPhotos, Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Lehigh Valley IronPigs

3 replies

  1. OK, Junior, good stuff. But here are my thoughts:
    First, it’s like Christmas when someone trades away all your good toys? Just wait until December Padawan. I’ll fix you.
    Second, I think we’ve got to be careful what we realistically expect in some of these trades. Mike Young will yield little for the IronPigs–probably low level pitching prospects such as what was dealt to acquire him. I don’t think there’s any way Boston’s giving up Bradley right now–unless there’s something about him we don’t know.
    Third, if we see Ruf at the Tiki after a Saturday game, do you want to be the one to tell him he shouldn’t be batting fourth? I’m just kidding. I think some of what we’re seeing is Brundage’s style: He’ll put a guy in a role and THEN wait for him to step up his play to fill it. He’s done it with Asche at third base and batting third. He’s done it with Diekman thrusting him into the closer role when his performance didn’t necessarily demand it. It’s part of getting these guys ready to fill roles on the MLB club and it’s probably smart–as much as it might frustrate the IronPigs Faithful.
    Nicely done, young-in,

  2. Boston’s looking for a closer, but they’ll never take Papelbon back. Why? Because he can’t keep his big mouth shut, particularly when it comes to his teammates. We’ve seen that here in Philly lately, where he’s had something to say about management, coaches and fellow players.

    Personally, I think they should start trading everyone — except Cliff Lee. They need him for two reasons. First, he’s still a winner. Second, with a new TV contract coming up, they need at least one star to keep fans coming to the stadium.

    But the remaking of a younger Phillies team has got to begin now, while Amaro can still get something for his old warhorses. I’d like to see a trade with the Yankees that would include getting their RailRiders’ ace pitcher, Ivan Nova. He’s good enough to be a starter on any team in the league, but isn’t going anywhere with the Yankees because they have nowhere to put him. He’d make a great Phillie.

    Darin Ruf? I’m not convinced he’s going to make it unless someone sits down with him and gets him to change his batting style. He has to give up the uppercut swing and start hitting for base hits; that’s when the home runs come naturally for a guy with power like Ruf.

    He also needs to be more selective about which pitches he hits. He tends to let the first one or two pitches go by without even a look. So most pitchers throw fastballs down the middle of the plate and quickly get two strikes on him, then throw him breaking balls he can’t hit. He needs to be prepared to swing at that first pitch, if it’s a fastball over the plate — and to lay off the breaking balls, particular the ones you’d need a sand wedge to hit.

    His fielding is okay. He’s made some spectacular catches. I don’t understand why the Phillies sent him back down to improve his fielding. His fielding is fine; it’s his hitting that needs to improve. Let’s hope he gets the help he needs, and accepts the advice.


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