Courtesy Baseball De Cuba
This post is in no way inteded to show any type of hate toward Carlos Ruiz or what he has accomplished for the Phillies in his career. But, the facts do indicate that Ruiz is 35 years old and will not be with the Phillies forever. After a failed attempt at acquiring the catcher of the future (Tommy Joseph) the Phillies signed Ruiz to be a Phillie through his 37th year. The Phillies may have panicked some to give Ruiz a third year. In doing so the Phillies may have missed an opportunity to get younger with Cuban catcher Yenier Bello now cleared to play in the United States
Seven years younger than Ruiz, Bello could have helped the Phillies now and later. Described as a power-hitting catcher, Bello hit .274 with in his last full season playing baseball in Cuba. In five seasons he hit 75 home runs and drove in 297. Those are not the numbers of Mike Piazza in his prime, but a catcher that carries a good bat is rare in Major League Baseball these days as we saw this offseason with the likes of Joe Mauer and Carlos Santana leaving the position.
The Phillies probably will not be in on the Bello sweepstakes. Not when for the next three years they'll be paying around $10 million a season for their incumbent catcher. If Ruiz was signed to two seasons, maybe. That third year could come back to haunt them. The Phillies could have waited and tried; we knew in November that MLB cleared Bello to play. The hold up was with a 51 year-old embargo issue with the federal government.
Tommy Joseph is still listed as a catcher on the Phillies' roster. But Joseph was already starting to play some first base even before the Phillies acquired him and before he was battling concussions. My guess is that Joseph will end up a first base/designated hitter type. If the Phillies felt he could be a big league catcher soon, they would not have signed Ruiz to three years.
Carlos Ruiz will probably have a decent enough season in 2014. Maybe even in 2015. But what the Phillies do not know is who will catch for them next. Bello would have been a wise addition. All he would have cost them is money.