The Rays have had talent bursting from the seams for years now, yet for some reason, they had never gotten around to replacing Justin Ruggiano on their 40-man roster until finally making the Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon signings official today.
Ruggiano, along with Cuban defector Leslie Anderson, were designated for assignment to make room for the two veterans.
Ruggiano was added to the 40-man roster and called up by the Rays way back on Sept. 16, 2007. He got 14 at-bats with the team at the end of the season and had three hits and three RBI. In 2008, he received four callups and played in 45 games, hitting .197/.247/.329 in 76 at-bats. Already 26, his future seemed dim at that point.
Still, the Rays kept carrying him. Ruggiano slipped to .250/.330/.412 in his third season in Triple-A in 2009, and he was never given a callup, even after the rosters expanded in September. Yet there he was, still on the 40-man roster again all winter. In 2010, he bounced back somewhat, hitting .287/.357/.453 for Durham. Again, he was denied even a September callup.
So, Ruggiano ended up spending three years and five months on the Rays’ 40-man roster and giving the team a .200/.250/.311 line in 90 at-bats during the span. With the way his minor league numbers have fallen off the last two years, it’s hard to imagine him being claimed off waivers. He probably wouldn’t even be very intriguing to a Japanese team at this point. If he ever shows up on a 40-man roster again, it’d be an upset.
Despite dealing with back trouble for five years, Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers recently made his first ever trip to the disabled list. Then he made another trip there. All of it has him contemplating his future. As he tells Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, his baseball future may be a short one if his health doesn’t improve:
“I want to get back this year to help the team and for me to be healthy,” Gonzalez said. “But I’m thinking more long-term about being able to play more years.
“Because if I have to deal with this next year again? That’ll probably be it. My contract will be over, that’ll probably be it. I won’t play any more. If I can heal it and my body feels good? Now I can go out there and do the things I can do. Then I’ll keep playing.”
Backs are one of those things that don’t get better as you get older. At least not without a lot of work and effort and good luck. Gonzalez is 35 now, so he’ll need all of that to keep playing beyond his current deal.
Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.
Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.
The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.