Anyone who has visited the Phillies official homepage will know the experience of being bombarded with relentless clips and interviews. I’ve trained my browser to mute these incessant videos upon arrival, but one caught my eye that I had to watch.
The scene begins with a friendly stroll down the dugout with Erik Kratz and Phillies hall-of-fame third baseman Michael Jack Schmidt. Schmidty has become a regular fixture at Phillies spring trainings, with the club always hoping to have some of his hitting magic rub off on the guys.
Erik Kratz may have gotten some of the magic Schmidt dust, as he totes the former Phils tutelage in this awkward bromantic (thats a word right?) video.
The newfound friends reminisced about all things baseball in their video debut. The best moment came when Kratz described how awful he was at third base in high school with Schmidt countering how much he loved catching and admitted to being good at everything. It’s hard for anyone to one up Michael Jack, and thankfully Kratz stuck to the self deprecation.
Kratz was a great story in 2012, coming up to replace an injured Carlos Ruiz and surprising everyone and himself with stellar power at the plate. He hit 9 home runs in only 157 at bats, and slugged a solid .504. He’s no Carlos Ruiz, but that’s just who Kratz will have to be for the first month of the season.
The veteran catchers success wasn’t shocking to his biggest fan Mike Schmidt. Schmidt in not so many words admitted he only rooted for Kratz while watching Phillies games last summer. After all, they worked closely together during last year’s spring training, and apparently it worked. Kratz may not be an all-star, but he certainly picked up enough from Schmidt to square up a major league fastball. It’s easy to forget about him with all the focus on Howard, Utley, and Halladay this spring, but Kratz will be one of the most important Phillies in April.
Kratz will hold his own at the plate, but his familiarity with the pitching staff is also a huge asset. The starting rotation has very little room for error, and having a guy they know who can catch a solid game is huge.
So long as Kratz doesn’t try to hard to be Carlos Ruiz, he should be able to hold down the position until Chooch’s return. If he get’s into trouble he can just dial up his good buddy Schmidt and tap into his hitting prowess once again. A buddy comedy may not be waiting in the wings for these two, but just in case they can always come to TBOH for some ideas.