Not gonna lie, I’m only posting this for two reasons:
(1) Because, unbeknownst to me before now, people are calling this guy “Babe Ruf,” which is awesome; and
(2) Halladay’s Bicepts was whining on Twitter that I wouldn’t mention it because of this site’s apparently obvious and longstanding eschewing of Phillies news. Or something.
Anyway: the Phillies have called up Darin Ruf, who wowed the Eastern League this year by smacking 38 homers at Reading while posting a line of .317/.408/.620.
Now, why I wouldn’t normally post this but for the nickname and the taunting? He’s 26 and he’s playing in Double-A, for starters, and that’s really old for that league. And because he has no defensive credentials or, with the Phillies anyway, much of a future.
Indeed, he has played mostly first base in the minors, and since Ryan Howard isn’t going anyplace, he won’t be playing first in Philly. If he had left field chops the Phillies would have made sure he was playing a lot more of it to prepare him for the big club. That they didn’t means that he is either unsafe at any speed out there or else the Phillies really don’t see him as part of their future.
My guess for the best case scenario: he showcases his one skill — mashing taters — by smacking a bunch of homers against expanded roster bullpens and then Philly tries to deal him to a team that has a place for a 1B/DH in his late 20s with almost zero major league experience. The Royals would have bit at that once but they don’t really need it anymore. But someone will at some point, so he’s worth the audition. Maybe you get a bullpen arm out of him or something.
Or, heck, they could do the sensible thing and platoon him with Howard, but that would probably make everyone on the planet kinda mad.
Veteran hurler Jake Peavy has not signed with a team. It’s not because he’s not still capable of being a useful pitcher — he’s well-regarded and someone would likely take a late-career chance on him — and it’s not because he no longer wishes to play. Rather, it’s because a bunch of bad things have happened in his personal life lately.
As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, last year Peavy lost millions in an investment scam and spent much of the 2016 season distracted, dealing with investigations and depositions and all of the awfulness that accompanied it. Then, when the season ended, Peavy went home and was greeted with divorce papers. He has spent the offseason trying to find a new normal for himself and for his four sons.
Pitching is taking a backseat now, but Peavy plans to pitch again. Here’s hoping that things get sorted to the point where he can carry through with those plans.
This is fun: The San Francisco Giants recently made their last payment on the $170 million, 20-year loan they obtained to finance the construction of AT&T Park. The joint is now officially paid for.
The Giants, unlike most other teams which moved into new stadiums in the past 25 years or so, did not rely on direct public financing. They tried to get it for years, of course, but when the voters, the city of San Francisco and the State of California said no, they decided to pay for it themselves. They ended up with one of baseball’s best-loved and most beautiful parks and, contrary to what the owners who desperately seek public funds will have you believe, they were not harmed competitively speaking. Indeed, rumor has it that they have won three World Series, four pennants and have made the playoffs seven times since moving into the place in 2000. They sell out routinely now too and the Giants are one of the richest teams in the sport.
Now, to be clear, the Giants are not — contrary to what some people will tell you — some Randian example of self-reliance. They did not receive direct public money to build the park, but they did get a lot of breaks. The park sits on city-owned property in what has become some of the most valuable real estate in the country. If the city had held on to that land and realized its appreciation, they could flip it to developers for far more than the revenue generated by baseball. Or, heaven forfend, use it for some other public good. The Giants likewise received some heavy tax abatements, got some extraordinarily beneficial infrastructure upgrades and require some heavy city services to operate their business. All sports stadiums, even the ones privately constructed, represent tradeoffs for the public.
Still, AT&T Park represents a better model than most sports facilities do. I mean, ask how St. Louis feels about still paying for the place the Rams used to call home before taking off for California. Ask how taxpayers in Atlanta and Arlington, Texas feel about paying for their second stadium in roughly the same time the Giants have paid off their first.