The Phillies call up Darin “Babe” Ruf

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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.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.