Friday, November 11, 2016

Welcome to the Blue, Darin Ruf & Darnell Sweeney!

The Dodgers have made their second trade of the winter.  They sent infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick to the Philadelphia Phillies for first baseman/outfielder Darin Ruf and minor league infielder/outfielder Darnell Sweeney. 

As you'll recall, word recently spread that Howie Kendrick was unhappy with his role this past season as a roving left fielder/second baseman -- even though only four other Dodgers' (Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner and Chase Utley) had more at-bats than him.  Nevertheless, he wanted a more consistent position, and apparently the Phillies are able to abide.  BTW, Kendrick has a one-year contract remaining at $10 million.

In exchange, we received two players who could very well fill that kind of utility role for the Dodgers next season.  Per a Dodgers press release:
Ruf, 30, appeared in 95 games in 2016 for the Phillies’ Triple-A Lehigh Valley, posting a .294 batting average with 20 home runs and 65 RBI. He also played in 43 games for Philadelphia last season, batting .205 with three home runs and nine RBI, and has appeared in 286 big league games in five seasons with the Phillies from 2012-16, batting .240 with 35 homers and 96 RBI. He has done most of his damage against left-handed pitchers posting a .299/.379/.542 career slashline. In the Majors, Ruf appeared in 139 games (92 starts) at first base, one game at third base, 76 games (64 starts) at left field and 29 games (27 starts) at right field.

In parts of eight minor league seasons, Ruf has hit .295 with 184 doubles, nine triples, 95 homers and 414 RBI in 675 games, earning Eastern League’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year in 2012. The Omaha, NE, native was drafted by Philadelphia in the 20th round of the 2009 MLB First Year Player Draft out of Creighton University.

Sweeney, 25, returns to the Dodger organization after being sent to the Phillies on August 19, 2015, in a trade that involved Chase Utley. The Hollywood, FL, native spent the 2016 campaign with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, batting .233 with 17 doubles, five triples, six homers, 35 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 118 games. He saw his first big league action with Philadelphia in 2015, hitting .176 (15-for-85) with four doubles, a triple, three homers and 11 RBI in 37 games. Sweeney, who was originally drafted by Los Angeles in the 13th round of the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft out of the University of Central Florida, has hit .272 with 124 doubles, 36 triples, 45 homers, 251 RBI and 134 stolen bases in 567 career minor league games. 
It seems that Ruf is a potential answer to our left-handed pitcher problem that was so glaringly obvious this past postseason.  He might potentially fill a role as a spot starter with an emphasis on pinch-hitting.  Sweeney is another super-utility type of player who has yet to see his bat translate in the Majors. 

In celebration of Ruf and Sweeney's trade to Los Angeles I made the above fantasy cards for them.  For the Ruf card on the top-left I used a photograph grabbed from Zimbio/Hunter Martin/Getty and the 1957 Topps Baseball card design.  For the Sweeney card on the top-right I used a photograph grabbed from Zimbio/Getty and the 1958 Topps Baseball card design.

Check out Darin Ruf's career stats below, via Baseball-Reference below:

Check out Darnell Sweeney's career stats below, via Baseball-Reference below:

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