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Revisiting the Coste-Ruiz Affair

5/26/2009

If the below is a decent sampling -- and I believe that it is -- I might not be traveling to Philadelphia anytime soon. From the ol' mailbag:

    What are you basing it on that Chris Coste is a better hitter than Carlos Ruiz? Ruiz isn't a great hitter, but this is talking about the 8th hitter in the order and picking between two bad options. Coste probably shouldn't even be on a major league team at this point, so, of course they are going to play the catcher who last year was clearly the better of the two at working with the pitchers.

And then there's this, even more to the point ...

    I think anyone with half a brain can see Carlos Ruiz > Chris Coste ... but then again, I'm not saying you even have half a brain.

There were some choice comments below the original post, too. What brought on all this disdain?

    Really, Philadelphia Phillies? You're really going to keep splitting the catching duties between right-handed hitters Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste, even though Coste has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he's the far superior hitter? Maybe there's not much to be done about the struggles of Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer, and Brad Lidge. But giving more plate appearances to the better hitter doesn't seem all that hard to figure out.

OK, you got me: I goofed.
PECOTA's preseason 2009 projection for Coste: .247/.297/.373.

PECOTA's preseason 2009 projection for Ruiz: .250/.331/.357.

ZiPS for rest of season, Coste: .254/.310/.394.

ZiPS for rest of season, Ruiz: .257/.345/.394.

It's Ruiz who has established himself as the superior hitter, almost solely because we expect him to draw more walks than Coste. Yes, Coste does have superior stats as a major leaguer, and it's surprising to me that his performance in the majors doesn't carry the day. But he is 36, and with a couple of exceptions he's not fared all that well in the high minors. Meanwhile, Ruis is six years younger and he's been relatively impressive in the high minors.

Thus, I shall throw myself at the mercy of the court, with the suggestion that I might be excused for neglecting to check the minor-league stats (and, less excusably, the projections) of two catchers north of 30 who each have logged well more than 200 games in the majors.

You want another Really? for the Phillies? Well, Jamie Moyer and Brad Lidge haven't exactly found their 2008 form yet. But as Phil Sheridan notes, it's too early to give up on them (and especially considering their salaries).