Under his new contract, Carlos Ruiz will make $1.9 million in 2010, $2.75 million in 2011 and $3.7 million in 2012. Did the Phillies get a good deal or not? The table below shows, for players across both leagues who got at least 200 plate appearances as a catcher, the top 15 catchers by OPS and their salaries for 2009:

  OPS as C ’09 Salary
J Mauer 1.061 10,500,000
J Posada .891 13,100,000
M Montero .836 425,000
B McCann .830 3,700,000
M Napoli .817 2,000,000
C Ianetta .789 415,000
V Martinez .783 5,900,000
C Ruiz .781 475,000
J Baker .776 400,000
AJ Pierzynski .770 6,250,000
M Wieters .764 400,000
R Paulino .759 440,000
G Zaun .757 1,500,000
M Olivo .755 2,700,000
K Shoppach .750 1,950,000

Ruiz’s value comes from more than just what he does with the bat, but he fared pretty well with the bat last year as well, even before he hit .341 in the post-season. Only seven catchers across either league put up a better OPS while playing catcher.

Whether the deal is good for the Phillies going forward or not, getting Ruiz for $475,000 in 2009 clearly was. Of the eight catchers who put up a better OPS, only two of them, Miguel Montero and Chris Iannetta, were paid less than Ruiz in 2009. Among all 15 players on the list above, only five made less than Ruiz.

When you consider just the offense, though, I think there are reasons to worry about Ruiz. He just turned 31 and is coming off of what is clearly the best year of his career with the bat. Ruiz hit 255/355/425 in 2009, but came into the season with a career line that was a meager 242/329/359. That .688 OPS is almost a hundred points less than his mark for 2009. His on-base percentage for his minor league career was .331 — much worse than his career-best .355 from 2009.

There were 42 players in the leagues combined that got at least 200 plate appearances while playing catcher in 2009. Had Ruiz put up his career OPS of .688 in 2009 that would have been 27th of the 42. So let’s hope the guys the Phillies are paying $3.7 million a year in a couple of years is closer to the guy who’s eighth on the list than the guy who’s 27th on the list. Offensively, at least, that’s not real hard to replace. Jason Jaramillo, for example, was 29th on the catcher list by OPS for 2009. He hit 255/312/368 for the Pirates this year, a .680 OPS, and he won’t be making $3.7 million in 2012.

I think there are two primary arguments that you can make that the Phillies aren’t going to regret paying Ruiz $3.7 million in 2012. The first is that his production with the bat last year wasn’t a fluke and he will continue to hit that well or nearly that well for the next couple of seasons. If that’s how you feel, I hope you’re right. But again, he’s old and his .781 OPS from last season is better than his career OPS in the minor leagues (.754). The other argument is harder to quantify, but it’s possible that Ruiz is so good defensively and so good at handling pitchers that even if his offense does slide back to his career levels, he’s still worth the investment.

The Phillies were expected to be one of many teams watching Noah Lowry throw yesterday in Arizona, but the workout was postponed. The 29-year-old lefty has a career 4.03 ERA but hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007 due to thoracic outlet syndrome.

This suggests that Bastardo and Escalona both have real chances to start the season on the active rosters as lefties out of the pen.

This says the Phillies have been trying to sign a veteran lefty and have been trying to ink Alan Embree or Ron Mahay to a minor league deal.