Toronto Baseball Guys
Saturday, May 22, 2010
  No Love For the Fat Kid
The Jays released Randy Ruiz this week.

In a universe that salivates over 5-tool players, Ruiz has only two tools: the ability to hit for average and power. With a .150 average and a lone home run, the release was completely predictable.

It was also rather sad, since Ruiz seems to a major league calibre hitter whose chance at a career has passed him by. This year, for the first time in his pro career, after being with ten different organizations, Ruiz finally broke camp with the big club. This proved to be a mixed blessing; yes he had a major league job, but it wasn't a regular job, and Ruiz struggled in limited playing time.

In 1088 minor league games, Ruiz has posted a line of .304/.378/.531, with 192 home runs. The man can hit.

He also doesn't have a natural position, inhabiting the wrong end of the defensive spectrum, the domain of names like Pujols, Howard and Teixeira - all of whom happen to be younger than Randy's 32 years.

At a listed weight of 250 lbs, Ruiz isn't going to make anyone forget about Rickey Henderson, so he absolutely had to hit to keep a job. It's a near certainty that had Ruiz just been installed as the everyday first baseman and given 500 at-bats, he would have continued to hit. It's almost inconceivable that Ruiz wouldn't have outhit Lyle Mendozerbay to this point in the season - and the Jays could have pocketed $8 million, had they been able to deal Overbay over the winter.

Instead, Ruiz was given spot duty, amounting to 13 games and 40 at-bats. When he failed to recapture lightning in a bottle, he became a liability. What he needs is a team out of contention looking for a cheap fill-in at first base or DH while their prospects finish baking.

Given 500 at-bats, there's no reason to believe he couldn't hit .280 with 25 bombs, maybe better. He can then parlay that into a 5 or 6 year career. Instead, he's signed with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, which should give him the same sort of longevity. It's just a shame it won't happen on this side of the Pacific.

As a major league hitter, Randy Ruiz has hit .272/.332/.480 with 12 homers in 68 games. Like fellow late bloomers Geronimo Berroa and Matt Stairs before him, Ruiz would hit in the majors if given the chance. At 32, he may not get another.
 
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