Tag: Joe Mauer

And you thought it was tiring just to watch

Things were looking really good through most of the first two games of this weekend’s series between the Phillies and the Twins. The Phils scored nine runs in game one as they rolled to a 9-5 win. They were on the brink of another victory in game two when things took a dramatic turn for the worse, though, and the Twins wound up taking two of three as the Phils fell 5 1/2 games out of first in the NL East.

The Phils led game two 9-4 going into the ninth inning. Contreras started the ninth and allowed a two-run homer to Jim Thome and then walked Nick Punto before Brad Lidge came on to try to close it out for the Phils with a 9-6 lead and a man on first. Punto took second on defensive indifference and third on a wild pitch before Denard Span delivered an RBI-single with one out that cut the lead to 9-7. Lidge struck out Orlando Hudson for the second out and was one out away from ending the game before Joe Mauer tied it up at 9-9 with a home run to center.

For Lidge it was another big hit he allowed with two outs. Lidge has been a whole lot better earlier in the innings than he has near the end of innings this year. Here’s what opponents are hitting against him for the season with zero or one outs and what they are hitting against him with two outs:

0 or 1 out 25 .167 .200 .292 .492
2 outs 19 .353 .421 .647 1.068

Not a lot of plate appearances, but batters have fared a lot better against him this year with two outs than they did earlier in the inning.

Here’s how batters have fared against him for his career with zero or one outs compared to what they have done against him with two outs:

0 or 1 out 1520 .223 .305 .357 .662
2 outs 783 .221 .332 .368 .700

Batters have been a little better against Lidge with two outs over his career, but there isn’t nearly the same gap as there has been this season.

Whether Lidge is getting tired or not, despite the tiny number of batters that he’s faced this season I think it is good news that he’s actually been better against hitters with less than two outs this year than he has over his career.

It’s important to note, too, that getting hammered with two outs wasn’t Lidge’s problem in 2009. If you look at his splits from ’09, he was miserable all around, but by OPS allowed he was actually better with two outs than he was with zero or one. In ’09, opposing hitters put up an .894 OPS against him for the year with two down compared to a .933 OPS with nobody out and a .907 OPS with one out.

This article suggests that Rollins will be back sometime in the series with the Indians, Ruiz should be back sometime this week and that Happ will make his fourth rehab start on Wednesday.

As good as it gets?

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.

Panama jacks

Carlos Ruiz came into the season with 13 career home runs, but started last night’s game hitting 287/381/515 with six home runs in 162 plate appearances since the All-Star break. That .896 OPS for the second half was better than the second half OPS put up by a bunch of his teammates, including Utley, Ibanez, Rollins and Victorino. Of the eight regulars for the Phillies, only Howard and Werth have put up a better OPS in the second half.

Ruiz hit 235/335/367 in the first half of the season, but his second-half thunder has him up near the top of the list of the best hitting catchers in the league for the season. Here’s the list of the players in the league for the season who have posted the best OPS while playing the position and gotten at least 250 plate appearances (does not include yesterday’s games):

Player OPS
M Montero .861
B McCann .826
C Ruiz .791
J Baker .784
C Ianetta .781

In the AL there were three players going into yesterday’s games with at least 250 plate appearances for the year as a catcher and an OPS better than Ruiz’s .791. Mauer (1.090), Posada (.905) and Pierzynski (.814).

Here’s how Ruiz’s numbers overall in the second half look compared to the five players in either league who have posted a better OPS for the season while behind the plate (they are ordered by their OPS for the second half of the year):

Second half
Mauer 1.090 240 372 429 596 1.025
Montero 861 199 337 387 576 963
Ruiz 791 162 287 381 515 896
Posada 905 182 276 346 540 886
Pierzynski 814 198 339 378 443 820
McCann 826 211 260 303 490 793

Ruiz is third in that group for OPS since the break. Fourth in batting average, third in on-base percentage and fourth in slugging percentage.

Chan Ho Park hurt his right hamstring in last night’s game. It sounds and looked like we shouldn’t expect to see him again any time soon.

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