Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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Monday, August 07, 2006

New Faces: Ruiz, Roberson & Coste 

The Phillies roster was pretty static and unchanging from 2003 to 2006, consisting of pretty much the same core of players (Abreu, Burrell, Thome, Polanco, Bell, etc). With the Phillies Bell/Abreu/Lidle/Cormier/Fasano fire sale, times are a-changing. Pat Gillick made significant changes to the Phillies bench prior to the beginning of 2006, and I suspect there are going to be many, many changes to the Phillies roster in the not-so-distant future. We’ll see new starters at third and in right in 2007, and probably at catcher as well. In addition we’ll probably see a little more of minor league call-ups like Carlos Ruiz, Chris Roberson and Chris Coste. Because we’ll be seeing a lot of these three players on the Phillies playoff run, I thought it might be worth profiling them each.

Carlos Ruiz. Catcher.

I’d expect to see Carlos Ruiz up with the Phillies in 2007, either backing up Mike Lieberthal or backing up whomever replaces him as the Phillies prime catcher. I really like what I’ve seen from Ruiz. Let’s look at his stats from the Red Barons:

OBP: .397
GPA: .307
ISO: .193
Base Runs: 49.36
BsR/27 Outs: 7.05

Here are Carlos’ 2005 stats as well:

OBP: .354
GPA: .274
ISO: .158
BsR: 52.81
BsR/27: 5.75

Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
Gross Productive Average (GPA): (1.8 * .OBP + .SLG) / 4 = .GPA. Invented by The Hardball Times Aaron Gleeman, GPA measures a players production by weighing his ability to get on base and hit with power. This is my preferred all-around stat.
Isolated Power (ISO): .SLG - .BA = .ISO. Measures a player’s raw power by subtracting singles from their slugging percentage.
On-Base Percentage (OBP): How often a player gets on base. (H + BB + HBP) / (Plate Appearances)
Base Runs: BsR are a stat developed by Dave Smyth that estimate how many runs a player contributes to a team’s offense. The formula is simple:

A: H + BB + HBP – HR
B: (.8 * 1B) + (2.1 * 2B) + (3.4 * 3B) + (1.8 * HR) + (.1 * (BB + HBP))
C: (AB – H)

Then: (B / (B+C)), then * A, then + D

(I’m using Base Runs instead of my usual Runs Created b/c I don’t have access to the usual stats to tabulate RC. I prefer RC b/c it is a little more accurate than BsRs, in my opinion.)

Anyway, what has impressed me about Carlos’ minor league stats have been his bat control. His OBP is running about ninety points ahead of his batting average. He got 34 walks in just 74 games, and his walk-to-strikeout ratio is pretty good: 0.83 (34 walks vs. 41 strikeouts). Ruiz has displayed good bat control and looks like he’ll be a solid hitter in the majors. These are things that you like to see from a player trying to make his way into the majors.

His power numbers are so-so: I suspect that his +.500 slugging percentage will be trimmed about eighty or so points when he gets into the majors. In short, I don’t think Ruiz is going to be batting cleanup for the Phillies, but I do think that he’s got good minor league numbers. Here is how he’s done thus far in the majors:

OBP: .234
GPA: .174
ISO: .068
BsR: 2.94
BsR/27: 2.26

I list all of that with the caveat that poor Carlos has only had 44 MLB at-bats. I think he’ll improve next season as Lieberthal’s backup.

Chris Roberson. Outfielder.

I’ve seen a little of Roberson this season, but mostly I’ve seen him as a pinch runner. Here is what Chris did with the Red Barons in 2006:

OBP: .350
GPA: .249
ISO: .074
BsR: 34.35
BsR/27: 4.43

Compared to Ruiz I am less impressed by Roberson. Roberson’s problem is going to be getting on base. Simply put, he’s not very good at drawing walks: 23 walks in 73 games. His OBP is just 57 points higher than his batting average, which isn’t such good news. His walk-to-strikeout ratio isn’t so hot either: 0.40 …

Roberson’s asset is speed. In 73 games he hit 66 singles and drew 23 walks, so 89 times he was in optimum position to go from first to second on a steal, the classic base-stealing scenario. He also hit 14 doubles. In those roughly 103 base-stealing opportunities (counting the 14 doubles), Roberson took off 34 times and was successful 25 times. That isn’t bad at all. In fact, Roberson led the Red Barons in steals over second baseman Joe Thurston (17), despite being on base 34 fewer times.

Thus far Chris hasn’t had much of an opportunity to show off his skills: he’s had just 21 plate appearances, gotten three hits and struck out three times. In none of his appearances on base has he attempted to steal a base. (Chris has appeared as a pinch runner, but I don’t know how many times, so I suspect he has many more than three times on base.) Can Roberson make it in the majors? I am skeptical. That inability to draw walks he showed in the minors suggests to me that he’ll have a tough time getting on base in the first place. I’m surprised that he’s in the majors at all: he only played AAA ball this season. We’ll see if he develops and becomes an all-around player, but I look at him and I think: reserve outfielder who will play a season or two and then vanish.

Chris Coste. Catcher / Infielder.

Geez, Chris Coste has a great story, doesn’t he? 33, finally made a big league team’s roster after hanging out in Scranton in 2005 and playing well in spring training. To my surprise, he’s playing very well:

AB: 80
Hits: 30
2B: 5
HR: 4
OBP: .419
GPA: .336
ISO: .231
BsR: 11.90
BsR/27: 6.42

He’s only drawn three walks, which I see as a problem, but I’d say that he’s played pretty darn well. I am surprised because I didn’t expect him to have the sort of success he’s been experiencing.

Here is how Coste did the the Red Barons in 2005 & 2006:

2005 / 2006
OBP: .351 / .236
GPA: .274 / .174
ISO: .174 / .095
BsR: 75.95 / 9.25
BsR/27: 5.67 / 2.05

He was actually having a very poor 2006 campaign when he was called up to the Phillies, so his success thus far this season is a major surprise to me. Coste doesn’t display the same bat control that Ruiz does, so again I am skeptical about his long-term viability as a major-leaguer, but he’s certainly making it a difficult argument to keep him in Scranton. Despite his age, I think he’s made a case for becoming the Phillies backup infielder / pinch hitter / emergency catcher in 2007. He’s delivered some clutch hits and appears to be playing with more confidence that you’d expect. I’m very curious to see if he can keep going.

Conclusions: Ruiz, Roberson and Coste are going to play an important role in this march towards the post-season. If the three of them can keep contributing in their assigned roles – Roberson as a pinch runner, Ruiz and Coste as pinch hitters – I think the three of them can contribute to the team and make an argument that they ought to be included in the Phillies 2007 plans. Keep up the good work, fellas. I’m rooting for you.

Thoughts on the Mets series ... well, at least the Phillies won a game. They would have won two had Jon Lieber not botched that throw to first in the Phils 4-3 loss saturday. (Oh, and Tim McCarver, when Mets fans booed Chase Utley what were you smoking when you said they were boos "of respect"? Maybe Mets fans are just being jerks?)

Anyway, now the Phils are 3.5 out of the wildcard. Tonight, the Braves. It has been a long road trip for the Phillies, but they need to buckle down and bury these guys. Atlanta is just two games back of the Phillies. They need to put some space between them and start concentrating on the Reds & D-backs.

More tomorrow.

Carlos Ruiz should be catching with Coste right now. I know waiving Lieberthal would be disrespectful to him, but he's washed up (regardless of recent production).

I'd rather see Bourn up with the Phils than Roberson. Roberson's swing from both sides is horrendous...can't believe he hit in Scranton!
Do you feel like the Phillies young pitchers can't get through a lineup three times? Do you have access to stats on that?

I wouldn't include Hamels of late in the equation (though earlier in the year he had the same problem), but Madson, Mathieson, etc. always seem to get shelled the third time through the lineup.

While opposing hitters seem to make the adjustment to the young pitchers, the Phillies pitching doesn't seem to mix their patterns up enough.
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