The Colorado Rockies know the value of a veteran catcher. In fact, you could say that they are kind of obsessed with having a veteran catcher around ever since the glory days of Yorvit Torrealba (we’re talking 2009 and not 2013 here). It seems like we have cycled through any number of veteran back-ups, each arriving in town with aspirations of mentoring the pitching staff and, more recently, helping Wilin Rosario learn how to be a Major League catcher. They saw the benefits of bringing Torrealba back in 2013, even with the end of his career in sight.
Enter the 2013 off-season and Carlos Ruiz rumors.
I’d like to see #Rockies take look at C Carlos Ruiz. They have interest in McCann. I believe he ends up in AL. Could Rosario play other pos?
— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) November 3, 2013
As the interested in Ruiz heated up (it feels weird just typing those words), the Rockies remained firmly in the center of the action, eventually making a two-year, $15 million offer.
— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) November 12, 2013
But then came reports that Ruiz has a two-year, $20 million offer on the table (from one of those dreaded mystery teams, or something). Presumably the Rockies’ offer still stands, but they are content that they have missed out on him and will focus on other things.
Source: #Rockies have “moved on” from Carlos Ruiz. Looking for closer, envisioning Brothers, Bettis in setup roles.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 13, 2013
Among those faithful to the Rockies, their interest in Ruiz didn’t totally make sense. Yes, there would have been a timeshare at catcher, but Ruiz would have required enough playing time that Wilin Rosario would have needed to
switch positions play another position as well (either first base or, gulp, right field). With that and other considerations in mind, here are the things that Ruiz would have brought to the Rockies:
1. Improved defense behind the plate
When you say that he would have been a “stable presence” for the pitching staff, that has to do with more than the fact that he is a veteran at age 34. As much as anything it is simply because he is a good catcher. The difference would be apparent immediately because of how remarkably bad Rosario has been the last two years. Improvements would come with Ruiz’s ability to call pitches, frame pitches, and block pitches…three decided weaknesses for ‘the Bull.’
2. A little bit of pop
He would not have been the answer when it comes to the team’s search for a bat this off-season, but he can hit. Even with a down year in 2013, check out these numbers from Baseball Reference’s Play Index:
Over his last 500 games, Carlos Ruiz is batting .296/.377/.443 with 195 R, 112 2B, 1 3B, 39 HR, 217 RBI, 6 SB, & 27.2% Catcher CS.
— MLB Play Index (@BRefPlayIndex) November 7, 2013
From 2010 to 2012, he put up the following slash lines:
2010 – .302/.400/.447
2011 – .283/.371/.383
2012 – .325/.394/.540
Give him a slate of home games at Coors Field, and he would likely have contributed nicely on offense even if that part of his game is due to decline in the coming years.
Two positive tests for Adderall, the second resulting in a suspension this past season. The Rockies already have to cross their fingers that Jonathan Gray will knock that off, so it probably isn’t the worst thing that Ruiz won’t be around.
4. Bad memories
Carlos Ruiz hitting the baseball hard is on the short list of things I remember from the 2009 NLDS. On the one hand, those memories would have me convinced that he would bat .700 at home if he joined the Rockies. On the other hand, they do not exactly endear me to the man.
5. Wilin Rosario in…right field?
Obviously the addition of Ruiz would displace the power-hitting Rosario. You could reasonably argue that would be a positive development, as it would free the Bull from the stress of catching to focus on hitting. On the other hand, you have to find a spot for him. First base is already dicey, but right field?
I know, right?
So Ruiz likely will not be a member of the Rockies. There would have been some positives had they landed him, but certainly not enough to cause anybody distress that he will play elsewhere.