Could Carlos Ruiz turn in his cathing gear for a regular old glove?
It's been a weird season for the Phillies, and it only figures to get weirder. And why not? They've raised the white flag, so might as well get as weird as you can and keep the fans entertained, at least.
One of those weird ideas might be taking hold, it seems, as the team has apparently had talks about giving catcher Carlos Ruiz some time at third base. It's a crazy idea, sure, but one that the brass is kicking around. From Matt Gelb at the Inquirer:
A source said Ruben Amaro Jr. recently discussed with Ruiz the possibility of playing some third base in 2013. Amaro confirmed Wednesday the team has "talked internally a little bit" about the idea and did not consider it far-fetched.
"I don't think he could do it every day," Amaro said, "but it could give him a spell from behind the plate and put him at third base from time to time. He takes ground balls every day. We've kicked it around. It's not an idea that's that far off-base.
I guess when a team is desperate, they'll think of anything to help make the team better. And as Gelb points out, there is no immediate solution for third base next season that doesn't require the Phillies to go outside of the organization, and it's going to be slim pickings when it comes to finding a productive bat for the hot corner, so this move does have a fair bit of logic behind it.
Considering that Chooch was signed as an infielder, it stands to reason that he could still do it. Could he field third base effectively? I'm betting no, because he's played third twice during his big league career, the first was in 2008 during an extra-inning game, and the second was during 2011's 19-inning marathon against the Cincinnati Reds, so it's not like the Phillies think he can do it with any frequency.
But, what if he can do it? What if Ruiz, who is 33, could make the transition to third? It's far-fetched to think that he'll convert full time, but if he can be mildly effective over there, it gives the Phillies a ton of options when it comes to next season and beyond. Catchers typically don't age well, and if you want to keep Chooch's hot bat (assuming he can still hit next year) in the lineup, then maybe it makes sense to move him out from behind the plate.
This would allow the Phillies to hand of catching duties to someone like Erik Kratz, or perhaps one of their catching prospects, like Sebastian Valle or the newly acquired Tommy Joseph when they come of age.
Of course, this is all conjecture coming from a team that is painfully short on options. If there was a glut of free agent third basemen, then this would be a moot point. If I had to guess, I'd say that this is just idle chatter from the Phillies, who have nothing better to do these days. But still, can you imagine?