On Thursday afternoon the Philadelphia Phillies traded longtime catcher Carlos Ruiz to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for catcher AJ Ellis, minor league pitcher Tommy Bergjans, and a player to be named later.
Yes, it is sad to see Chooch leave the Phillies – the only organization he’s ever played for. Signed as an amateur free agent by Philadelphia in 1998, Ruiz spent 11 seasons with the Phillies, and posted a career slash line of .266/.352/.393 with 68 home runs and 401 runs batted in. Ruiz earned his lone All-Star selection in 2012. His numbers are far from impressive, but very serviceable for a catcher that knows how to call a game and provide leadership in the clubhouse. He and Jason Varitek share the MLB record for most no-hitters caught with four. He will be sorely missed by his teammates and the fans of Philadelphia.
With Ruiz headed to LA for a chance to win another World Series ring, the transaction leaves dilapidated first baseman Ryan Howard as the last member of the 2008 World Series roster.
For that, congratulations are in order to Mr. Howard. His feeble performance and lucrative contract rendered him undesirable on the trade market. Howard has failed to launch more than 23 home runs in four straight seasons, and, with Tommy Joseph earning at-bats in 2016, it appears Howard will fail to eclipse that mark for a fifth consecutive year.
But we need to step back for a second to recap Howard’s career because his dossier is pretty solid. He earned NL Rookie of the Year honors in 2005, appearing in 88 games, and batting .288 with 22 home runs and 63 runs batted in. While his only season batting over .300 came in his 2006 MVP season, Howard was incredibly durable and productive from 2006-2011. He appeared in at least 143 games each of those six seasons. Howard’s lowest HR and RBI total in any of those years was 31 and 108, respectively. He led the league in home runs twice (58 in 2006, and 48 in 2008), and in runs batted in three times (149 in 2006, 146 in 2008, and 141 in 2009). He’s a three-time NL All-Star who finished in the top 10 in NL MVP voting each year from 2006-2011. Yes, haters. Howard also led the league in strikeouts in 2007 and 2014.
Despite his outstanding seven-year peak, Philly fans have become fatigued with Howard’s attitude toward the media, declining performance, and immovable contract. After Howard cleared irrevocable waivers on Wednesday, teams now have until the end of August to strike a trade for Howard for him to remain eligible for postseason games. Despite a strong August (.378/.425/.838 with five home runs) from the left-handed hitter, it’s unlikely any team will jump to acquire the money remaining on Howard’s $25 million contract. It’s more likely than not Howard’s departure will occur when the team decides to buyout his 2017 club option worth $10 million.
Thus, we must congratulate Philadelphia fans on taking the next step to a fresh beginning.
“Hey, Jake. What happened to the other notable players on the 2008 World Series team?” I’m glad you asked.
Chooch will join former teammates Chase Utley and Joe Blanton in Los Angeles.
Jimmy Rollins was also traded to the Dodgers in December of 2014, but was designated for assignment earlier this year by the Chicago White Sox.
Pedro Feliz last played for the Camden Riversharks in 2012.
Pat “The Bat” Burrell last played for the Phillies in 2008, and spent just three more seasons with the Rays and Giants.
Shane Victorino was dealt back to the Dodgers at the trade deadline in 2012. He went on to play three more seasons for the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Angels before being released from his minor league contract with the Cubs in May of 2016.
Much to the dismay of Philadelphia fans, Jayson Werth signed with the Nationals before the start of the 2011 season where he still plays regularly.
Brett Myers has not pitched in the majors since his 2013 season with the Indians. Cole Hamels and JA Happ are enjoying phenomenal years with the Rangers and Blue Jays, respectively. Jamie Moyer pitched his 25th and final season with the Colorado Rockies in 2012. Brad Lidge struggled to stay healthy during his final years in Philadelphia, and last pitched for the Nationals in 2012. Ryan Madson is now closing out games for the Oakland Athletics.
Finally, Ruben Amaro Jr. was replaced as the Phillies’ General Manager in September of 2015. He currently serves as the first base coach for the Boston Red Sox.
2008 was a year to rejoice and celebrate. 2016 is a year to take solace in the fact that the rebuilding process has almost fully initiated. With all the young talent on the major league roster, and several top prospects being groomed in the minors awaiting call-ups, the top of the mountain is nearly within sight again, Philadelphia.
Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com