WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 02: Erik Kratz #31 celebrates with teammate Darin Ruf #18 of the Philadelphia Phillies after Ruf hit a solo home run against the Washington Nationals during the fourth inning at Nationals Park on October 2, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
It appears that the Phillies are done shopping for the season, as Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro admitted on Monday afternoon, according to Matt Gelb of the Inquirer:
"We're likely going with what we've got," Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
"There's some risk in going with a possible double platoon or letting the guys we have battle it out for playing time," Amaro said. "There are some advantages to that, as well. The best-man-wins type of scenario can be created and likely will be created in spring training. At the same time, a lot of these guys are not proven everyday major-league players. But that doesn't mean they cannot become them."
Quite frankly, I'm surprised that he didn't admit as much earlier. Coming into the off-season, there were only a handful of free agent outfielders that should have even been considered (Angel Pagan, Nick Swisher, B.J. Upton), and even then, they were not without risk or a high price tag.
Instinctively, the news that the Phillies are pretty much done shopping for outfielders sounds like it's bad news. And it is, in a way, because this could turn out to be an utter disaster brought on by management not being prepared for the day when they couldn't buy or trade for every player that they wanted.
On the bright side, this allows the Phillies the opportunity to actually see what they have in their two young outfielders, Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf. Of the two, Brown is the more known quantity, having been a highly touted prospect for much of his time in the organization that has spent time in the big leagues. It's worth noting that his MLB experience equals roughly one full season dating back to 2010, so 2013 will be the first real opportunity for Brown to prove what he is capable of as a full-time player.
Ruf, on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery. He slugged his way to prominence in 2012 with a 38 home runs at Double-A Reading, which brought a ton of attention to the 25-year-old. His power-hitting ways seemed to follow him to The Show, where he hit three home runs in 12 games late in the season. He has power, for sure, but the thing about Ruf is that he doesn't really have a position. He's a first baseman by trade, but unless Ryan Howard gets traded, he is going to be relegated to left field. Only time will tell if he can field the position, but for now, the Phillies seem to be content with letting him learn on the job.
The other thing about Ruf is that, for all the power he can bring from the right side of the plate, it's yet to be determined if he can actually hit Major League pitching. He had a 1.079 OPS in 33 at-bats in 2012, sure, but it's hardly a sample size worth caring about. The knock on Ruf is that, during his time in the minors, he's always been too old for whatever level he was at, so it's not yet known whether his prodigious power was a result of actual talent or the fact that he was a senior playing a group of freshman.
Is it an ideal situation in the outfield? Certainly not. But between Brown, Ruf, and newcomer Ben Revere, the Phillies have a great deal of youth, and perhaps a great deal of potential, as they head into the 2013 season.