TBOH Mailbag #1 - People Like Darin Ruf


People are very intrigued by Darin Ruf. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, I decided to try a little Twitter experiment. Do I have enough followers, or better put, have I fooled enough people into thinking I’m some sort of pseudo-expert on the Phillies, into getting them to ask me questions for a mailbag?

I’ve always wanted to do a mailbag. Perhaps it’s because that, at the start of my radio career, I was a talk show host. And the best part about being a talk show host is when you’re in the studio, spouting off your opinions, and then you open up the phone lines and ask listeners to call in. There’s something strangely compelling about then seeing those phone lines light up.

“What? People actually want to talk to me? People find me interesting? People think I actually know what I’m talking about?”

It’s always astonishing that people actually want to know what I think about things. Especially when you consider the fact that, for about 35-50% of my day, I’m an idiot.

It’s addictive and I miss it.

Happily, my experiment worked well enough that we are able to roll out the first of what I hope is many TBOH Mailbags, where I take you questions on the Phillies and, really, anything else that is happening on this little blue orb.

Ah, Darin Ruf. People are very excited about the young first baseman/outfielder, and for good reason. The kid has done a terrific job this year getting on base (.375 on-base %), has hit for some power (7 HRs in 128 PAs) and has not been the butcher in the field that everyone feared he would be. There’s no doubt he’s going to be a contributor to this team for 2014 at least. The big question is, have the Phils seen enough to make him the starter in left or right field next year? Do they feel comfortable enough to go with a starting outfield of Brown/Revere/Ruf?

Something tells me the Phillies would still like to add an every corner outfielder next year, perhaps someone like Nelson Cruz. With Ryan Howard coming back, opportunities to play at first base will not be all that plentiful until Howard tears or breaks something or spontaneously combusts or something. So the number of at bats Ruf will see next year is totally up in the air right now. It’s also unclear if the Ruf we’re seeing is the same guy we would get over 500-600 PAs in a full season.

If Ruf does get that kind of playing time, I think a line like .250/.340/.450 is probably doable. His career on-base percentage in the minors was .380 and of course his slugging is what kind him to the big leagues.

@OuttaHerrrrreee: Does it make sense to platoon Ruf and Howard with Ruf’s poor splits against LHP?

Dude, what are you doing DESTROYING NARRATIVES???

It’s a small sample size and, traditionally, Ruf has had more problems with right-handers than lefties. So, perhaps his splits this year should be thrown out. Still, it’s interesting to note that, in 128 plate appearances this year, Ruf has hit righties to the tune of .302/.400/.558 with 5 of his 7 HRs. He’s hit lefties at a .167/.286/.417 clip with 2 HRs.

Like I said, you can’t base future decisions on just 128 PAs. Perhaps the only takeaway you can really get here is to be pleasantly surprised that Ruf has hit righties as well as he has, and to hope it continues. One would expect his numbers against lefties to improve as well.

Ehsan, you are bad person and you smell like soup.

Giancarlo is sad to be a Marlin. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Although, this question brought up an interesting discussion this week on Twitter. Dennis Deitch, beat writer for the Delaware County Daily Times, wanted to see just how far Phils fans would be willing to go to get Giancarlo Stanton on the Phils.

If you were GM, would you trade Dom Brown, Cody Asche and Jesse Biddle for Stanton? No doubt that is a steep price, and there are arguments to be made for both sides.

The argument against a trade like that is the Phillies still have a lot of holes to fill and need good young players to fill them. Brown has turned into a power-hitting All-Star, Asche has potential as a long-term solution at third base or somewhere else in the field, and Biddle is the team’s best pitching prospect (although some say Adam Morgan actually has a higher ceiling). That is an awful lot to give up for one person, even if it is a young power-hitter the caliber of Stanton.

The argument FOR that deal is that… well… WE’RE TALKING ABOUT GIANCARLO STANTON HERE. Not only that, Stanton is just 23 years old, is right-handed and plays a corner outfield position. Brown, by contrast, is 25, so you’d actually be trading for a younger player. The Phils could afford to move Asche because of Maikel Franco‘s emergence as a potential long-term solution at the hot corner, and you could bridge the time to Franco’s arrival with Kevin Frandsen. And while Biddle has been brilliant at times this year, he has struggled with his fastball location as the year has worn on and scouts say his curveball has slipped a bit as well.

It’s unlikely the Marlins would even pull the trigger on a deal like this, and the Phils would likely have to throw in another prospect or two to make it happen. Which, for my money, is just too much to give up for one player who, let’s face it, isn’t going to single-handedly make the Phils a contender next year or in 2015.

It would be REALLY nice to have him. But it’s NOT going to happen.

Jun 13, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Ben Revere (2) bunts for a single in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Phillies won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Ruben Amaro has never done anything good. This is a silly question and you, sir, should be taken out behind the shed and smacked with a shoe.

No, no, no, I kid. Of course, Amaro has done some good things. Amaro actually is very good at closing out free agent deals when he has targeted the player he wants. His trade for Halladay was brilliant, although it was off-set by his trade of Lee to Seattle. His trade for Oswalt was decent enough, and trading for Lee from the Indians in 2009 was nothing short of brilliant. Signing Lee as a free agent was also a huge coup, although one could argue the money would have been better spent on offensive players.

And so far, his trades for Ben Revere and Michael Young appear to have been good ones. The Phils gave up nothing of value for Revere (although I suppose Trevor May could still become a serviceable starter at some point) and they haven’t missed any of the players they gave up for Young either. It would be even better if Amaro could flip Young for more prospects, although the quality of those prospects probably wouldn’t be much better than what they gave up to get him.

So yes, Amaro has done some good things, especially concerning larger deals. It’s the smaller stuff, which sometimes is the more important stuff, that he seems to struggle with. And that’s mainly because Amaro doesn’t seem to have a plan. He manages day-by-day, decision-by-decision, with no larger picture in mind. That, in my opinion, is his greatest weakness.

That and giving a closer $50 million.

I did a post on this very topic not too long ago, ranking the 10 weirdest All-Stars in recent Phillies history. I didn”t remember Mickey Morandini being good enough to be an All-Star, but darned if he didn’t make it in 1995. And Paul Byrd, good gracious, that guy had no business sniffing an All-Star team. Tyler Green was a dynamic young pitcher who had a phenomenal first half in ’95 before he became… well… Tyler Green.

But I think I’ll rephrase this question to say, who was the “least deserving” All-Star in Phillies history. And for that, I’ll quote myself…

1988 – Lance Parrish (.215/.293/.370, 15 HRs 60 RBIs)

How bad were the catchers in the National League in 1988 that Parrish was actually selected to be on this roster? I mean, LOOK at that batting average and on-base percentage. In his two years with the Phils, Parrish was horrifically terrible, yet somehow he made it onto the ’88 squad. Of all the players on this list, Parrish was the least deserving Phillie to ever be selected to an All-Star team.

Parrish was just BAD, guys. Was he as obscure as Wayne Twitchell, Joe Hoerner, Grant Jackson, Ken Raffensberger, Heathcliff Slocumb, and Pinky May? No. But he was perhaps the least deserving Phillie All-Star in team history.

First of all, why would an alien even WANT Ryne Sandberg? I realize he’s a Hall of Fame second baseman, but if an alien intelligence is really looking for a quality second baseman to abduct and teach their alien offspring how to play second base, wouldn’t they abduct Joe Morgan? Of course, Morgan would likely talk around in circles, confusing and infuriating our future alien overlords to the point where they wage all-out war against us, leaving nothing left of humanity except for a small cadre of survivalists living inside a mountain in Montana.

So yes, perhaps it’s best they take Sandberg.

If Sandberg were to be abducted, I’m not so sure Charlie Manuel shouldn’t remain as the manager in 2014. What has happened this year was not his fault, although it may be time for a fresh start, regardless.

One managerial prospect that was getting some publicity last year was White Sox AAA coach Joe McEwing, who Tony LaRussa liked so much he nicknamed him “Super Joe,” right before he was traded as a player from St. Louis to the Mets. In 2009, Baseball America named McEwing the top managerial prospect in the South Atlantic League, which I would imagine is a pretty good thing. Ron Wotus is the bench coach for the San Francisco Giants, a team that has had a little bit of success the last few years.

But if I were running the Phillies, I would give Tampa Bay Rays coach Jim Hickey a call and see if he was interested in a promotion. Hickey has been the Rays’ pitching coach since 2006 and has worked closely with the man who is regarded as the best manager in the game, Joe Maddon. Hickey has made Tampa’s young pitching staff very effective year after year (7th in ERA in the AL this year, 1st in 2012, 2nd in 2011, etc.), and works for a progressive organization that seems to churn out quality seasons year after year with almost no payroll.

That would be my big fish.

OK, so one more question by a Mr. Funny Pants…

Well, let’s just roll up our sleeves here and dig in…

If Wikipedia is correct (and really, what reason do I have to doubt Wikipedia?), then what we’re discussing here is a paradox…

Schrodinger’s cat is a thought experiment, sometimes described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. It illustrates what he saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics applied to everyday objects, resulting in a contradiction with common sense. The scenario presents a cat that may be both alive and dead, depending on an earlier random event. Although the original “experiment” was imaginary, similar principles have been researched and used in practical applications. The thought experiment is also often featured in theoretical discussions of the interpretations of quantum mechanics. In the course of developing this experiment, Schrödinger coined the term Verschränkung (entanglement).

Baby stuff. Let’s keep going.

Schrödinger’s cat: a cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If an internal monitor detects radioactivity (i.e. a single atom decaying), the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when one looks in the box, one sees the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead. This poses the question of when exactly quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other.

Dude, why did Schrodinger have such a problem with cats? I have two cats, and they’re LOVELY! Their names are Jack and Harley. Why not a dog, or an ocelot? Why cats, Dr. Schrodinger?

He proposed a scenario with a cat in a sealed box, wherein the cat’s life or death depended on the state of a subatomic particle. According to Schrödinger, the Copenhagen interpretation implies that the cat remains both alive and dead (to the universe outside the box) until the box is opened. Schrödinger did not wish to promote the idea of dead-and-alive cats as a serious possibility; on the contrary, the paradox is a classic reductio ad absurdum.

Ah yes, a CLASSIC version of reductio ad absurdum. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Of course, there are numerous interpretations to this study. There’s the most commonly held Copenhagen Interpretation, in which…

…a system stops being a superposition of states and becomes either one or the other when an observation takes place. This experiment makes apparent the fact that the nature of measurement, or observation, is not well-defined in this interpretation. The experiment can be interpreted to mean that while the box is closed, the system simultaneously exists in a superposition of the states “decayed nucleus/dead cat” and “undecayed nucleus/living cat,” and that only when the box is opened and an observation performed does the wave function collapse into one of the two states.

I mean, sure. That kind of goes without saying, doesn’t it?

Ah, but there are the Many Worlds Interpretation, the Ensemble Interpretation, the Relational Interpretation and Objective Collapse Theories. You can’t just ignore all those interpretations/theories so easily, you know.

For my money, a cat is dead if his heart stops beating. A cat is alive if the opposite is true. The fact that we can’t see inside the box doesn’t mean the cat is both alive AND dead because that would be, well, bat-crap crazy.

There’s a reason I saved this question for last.

Hey, let’s do this again next week.

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