Deconstructing The Phillies: Middle Infield

November 20th, 2014 by Mike H. | Filed under Baseball, Phillies.

Ah, the Hot Stove is in full swing. Hot Stove is back on MLB Network. MLB rumors are blowing up on Twitter. Record/stupid contracts are being tossed at players like they are Cracker Jacks. You gotta love the MLB offseason. Not even just as a Phillies fan, but as a fan of the game. Some moves have WOW-ed, while others make you go, “What?”. It’s been a bit, but let’s push forward with wheels and deals. I am including the catcher position in the middle infield category as it is in the infield, and considered “up the middle”. Plus, I didn’t think it warranted its own post. Plus, I’m going to be updating my thoughts on a previous trade in the summary section.

What a couple of weeks makes. The Hot Stove in full tilt and two of the three “middle infield” starters have been rumored to have drawn interest from other teams. Supposedly, the Mets inquired about Jimmy Rollins. Supposedly, the Blue Jays inquired about Chase Utley. With the Toronto Blue Jays signing Russell Martin to a five-year, $82M deal, it’s very reasonable to imagine that rumors involving Carlos Ruiz are bound to appear. While all three would definitely be available, Rollins and Utley have to waive 10 & 5 (10-year MLB veteran, 5 years on current team) rights to be moved.

Starting with Utley, I have hard time believing that he would consent to being moved to any team that plays on an artificial surface, i.e. Toronto, Tampa Bay, etc. His chronic knee condition would almost definitely be aggravated by the playing surface. So where is a good fit? In my opinion, the only real team that makes sense for Utley is the Baltimore Orioles. Jonathan Schoop is the O’s second baseman currently, and how much interest they’ll have will be based on how well Schoop bounces back from a .209/.244/.354 2014 stat line (137 games). Utley in 2014 (155 games) racked up a .270/.339/.407 line, which, if duplicated, could lead to a deadline deal if Schoop struggles. I think the Phillies open the season with Utley at second base.

Moving on to Rollins, I don’t think there was anyway the Mets and Phillies would have matched up in that type of deal. Amaro is too thick-headed to trade within the division. However, I could see, in the right deal, see Rollins approving a trade to Oakland or the Dodgers. The Dodgers and the A’s are both in a similar boat. Both teams have potential long-term shortstops that aren’t too far away and Rollins is in the last year of his current deal. Rollins won’t draw much in return, but still could acquire something valuable. I don’t know if it would be fair without subsidizing part of his contract, but I’d like to think that Rollins could bring back any of the following deals:

  • From Dodgers: RP Yimi Garcia and OF/1B Scott Van Slyke
  • From Athletics: RP Drew Pomeranz and OF Aaron Shipman

Personally, I think I’d rather see Rollins go to the Dodgers as Garcia is more of a power arm and Van Slyke provides depth at multiple positions, an upgraded John Mayberry Jr. if you will. While the Phillies do have J.P. Crawford developing, I’d expect him to spend most of the 2014 season at AA Reading. While not the player that Rollins is, it would be quite feasible to think that internal options Freddy Galvis and/or Cesar Hernandez could occupy the shortstop position until Crawford is ready.

At this point in the offseason, I think no other middle infielder’s stock has risen as much as Carlos Ruiz’. With Ruiz being owed just $17.5M ($4.5M club option for 2017), he should be very intriguing to teams looking to upgrade at catcher that missed out on Russell Martin. The Cubs, Dodgers, and Pirates were all in on Martin, but the Blue Jays overpaid for a career year. Granted the Blue Jays could easily slide Martin to first base or DH if he can’t stay behind the plate, but let’s compare Martin to Ruiz.

2011-2014

  • Martin: 496 games .240/.340/.403 with 76 doubles, 65 home runs, 362:220 K:BB ratio
  • Ruiz: 448 games .282/.360/.416 with 96 doubles, 1 triple, 33 home runs, 197:141 K:BB ratio

So, in 48 more games, Martin has hit eleven more extra base hits over four seasons, but what about their defense:

  • Martin: 133/403 (33%) caught stealing, 20 passed balls, 17 errors
  • Ruiz: 105/383 (27%) caught stealing, 21 passed balls, 18 errors

I guess Martin’s “framing” ability and age, Martin is four years younger than Ruiz, warrant a salary just about double of Ruiz’. The two seem to compare quite well with Ruiz being a slightly better offensive player and Martin having the slight edge defensively. If that is the case on paper, how could Ruiz not have increased value?  So what could you look for in return? Generally, I’d have a destination with a potential target or two, but I think that Ruiz is not someone who will bring you much in return unless he is part of package deal. As I said previously, the Cubs, Dodgers, and Pirates all could use Ruiz, but none would probably go out of their way to acquire him. At least as not a centerpiece.

As previously done before, we’ll update the deconstruction process.

Rotation:

  • Cliff Lee
  • A.J. Burnett***
  • David Buchanan
  • Anthony Ranaudo****
  • Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
  • Jerome Williams

Bullpen:

  • Ken Giles
  • Justin De Fratus
  • Jake Diekman
  • Antonio Bastardo
  • 2 of Mario Hollands, Cesar Jimenez, Luis Garcia, and Ethan Martin
  • Yimi Garcia

Infield:

  • Cody Asche
  • Maikel Franco
  • Darin Ruf
  • Chase Utley
  • Carlos Ruiz
  • Freddy Galvis
  • Cesar Hernandez

Subtractions:

  • Cole Hamels
  • Kyle Kendrick
  • Jonathan Papelbon (plus $8M or $15M*)
  • Ben Revere
  • Ryan Howard (plus $50M**)
  • A.J. Burnett
  • Jimmy Rollins

Additions:

  • Deven Marrero****
  • Garin Cecchini****
  • Brian Johnson****
  • Anthony Ranaudo****
  • Angel Nesbitt
  • Austin Kubitza
  • Francellis Montas
  • Yimi Garcia
  • Scott Van Slyke

*$15M would include $8M for 2015 and $7M for 2016 if option vests. **$50M includes paying $20M per season and $10M buy out for 2017. ***A.J. Burnett declined his option and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates. ****Updated Hamels/Red Sox trade to Marrero, Cecchini, Johnson, and Ranaudo as it seemed more likely to get more very good prospects than to target a couple of elite targets.

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