Who needs a young power hitting right-handed bat that consistently gets on base? Apparently not the Philadelphia Phillies.
With the signing of once Philadelphia Phillie, but most recently Pittsburgh Pirate Marlon Byrd, Darin Ruf has most likely lost his spot in the everyday lineup, but found a place on the bench. After being thrown into the lineup last year, Ruf proved he has the ability to play alongside Domonic Brown and Ben Revere everyday in the outfield. Although he filled in predominantly at first, Ruf has played in the outfield in the past due to the fact Howard will be playing at first at least in the near future. On an aging team, youth that can drive in runs are in desperate need. Ruf has an OPS of .838 in his two years playing in the big leagues and can hit the ball out of the park. He is a constant threat of hitting a long ball on a team that last year had only one real deep threat in Dominic Brown. The spark we were saying Ryan Howard had 3 or 4 years ago is inside Darin Ruf, but right now the potential he has is being squandered sitting on the bench.
The only thing Ruf does not bring to the table is defense. Turning a catcher to a first baseman is not that hard of a task, but from first to the outfield is pretty daunting. Although he has experience in the outfield from Triple A and 2012 in the majors, is it enough to be an everyday outfielder? Ruben Amaro Jr. does not think so, sideling Ruf for now two years with the acquisitions of Delmon Young and now Marlon Byrd. Although the contract was only for one year, $750,000, the Delmon Young signing was a bust that may be the trademark of the Ruben Amaro Jr. tenure in Philadelphia. Although watching Delmon Young play did provide a little bit of comedy in an otherwise dismal season, he did not strike the team as a player could rely on, often being replaced by John Mayberry Jr. in the later innings of the game. Delmon Young is the worst fielder in my memory and he constantly got the nod to start in right field, so why doesn’t Ruf get the chance? Instead, Amaro adds to the payroll an unnecessary contract. Marlon Byrd is a fine addition to the Phillies outfield, but there are greater needs that Amaro should focus on, like another starting pitcher. As of right now, the only one stalling Darin Ruf’s career is Ruben Amaro.
The Phillies future is based around a core of young players, like Cody Asche, Darin Ruf and Jesse Biddle, but when will they be able to play with each other on Opening Day? Amaro keeps on replenishing positions that can be filled with young players with aging players like Delmon Young, Michael Young and now Marlon Byrd. What is the harm in letting the future of the team play with one another? Last year was meant to find out what talent was in store for the future and the kids showed that the future is bright, especially with Biddle coming up from the minors soon. A team of veterans has been assembled to show the young players the ropes, but that may be difficult if the veterans are taking up all of the positions.