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.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.