Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Injuries to Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider gave Erik Kratz his first real shot at a big league job, and boy, did he deliver.
Every baseball fan dreams of being able to start for his favorite team. Only rarely do those dreams come true. You know Erik Kratz, the journeyman minor-league catcher from Telford, Pennsylvania? His dream came true.
When Carlos Ruiz went down with plantar fasciitis in early August, it was akin to the apocalypse for a Phillies fan such as myself. Roy Halladay had already been on the disabled list for nearly two months, and his first few starts back hadn’t exactly inspired confidence in his health. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard still weren’t quite looking as good as they had in the past. Vance Worley’s elbow was still rather wonky. Cliff Lee had all of two wins to his name. And Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence were soaking up the sun on rival teams from the west coast. So needlessly to say, Chooch’s injury was a veritable death knell on the Phillies’ 2012 season.
Or so we thought. Enter Kratz, a 32-year-old minor-league catcher with all of 42 big league plate appearances to his name. And boy, are we glad he did. From his first full game as the Phillies catcher on June 28th to Carlos Ruiz’s return from the DL on September 9th, Kratz hit .270/.323/.559 with 8 home runs and 23 RBI, while throwing out 45% of all basestealers. With his knack for clutch hits, his excellent game calling skills, and an arm worthy of a Halladayseason Photoshop job, Kratz was absolutely instrumental in the Phillies’ 26-14 run that took them from the beginning of August right up to the Houston series in mid-September.
But did he think so? We got the transcripts of Kratz's Exit Interview with Phillies management, and here’s what he had to say.
1. How did you let your teammates down this season?
Oh…well, I guess it’s pretty obvious, right? I mean, I started the season in the minor leagues, didn’t I? I guess that kinda says a lot about what type of player I am. I mean, yeah, I hit .270 or whatever while Ruiz was out, but he was hittin’ around .340 when he went down. I was supposed to replace that, you know, and I couldn’t.
2. How did you let your manager and GM down this season?
Uh…I guess, same answer, you know? They brought me up because they thought I had the best chance to duplicate Chooch’s production, and I guess I did a pretty awful job of that. .270 isn’t really close to .340, you know?
3. What do you have to say to all the fans you let down this season?
Um, wow, let’s see…I guess I’m sorry I couldn’t be Chooch, guys. I did my best, really. I tried to hit for a high average like him, I tried to hit a lot of home runs like him, I tried to throw out runners like him…but I’m just a guy from Telford, PA, not an All-Star, you know? 31’s less than 51, guys, just like .270’s less than .340.
4. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst, how do you rate on the "it's my fault we're in this freaking mess and missed the playoffs scale"
5. Other than yourself, which player caused this fiasco of a season the most?
Look guys, I’m not here to play the blame game. If we’ve already agreed that it’s my fault that the 2012 season was a mess, then it’s my fault the 2012 season was a mess. I’m not a star, you know, just a guy from Telford, PA. And I was supposed to be the guy to take over for our catcher who was hitting .340 at the time, and all I could come up with was .270. I think we can all agree that any blame should rest squarely on my non-All-Star shoulders. So I’m sorry, I guess. I’ll just go pack my bags and get back to Lehigh Valley or whatever…