Who Justin Ruggiano Is and Why the Blue Jays Should Get Him
With spring training just days away now, it's getting awfully tough to generate interesting topics surrounding the Blue Jays. Luckily, an interesting player has reportedly become available in the last day or so that should interest the Blue Jays. It's not Michael Young either, although the where, if and how of him coming to the Jays will be kicked around some more below.
The player the Jays should take a long look at acquiring is Justin Ruggiano from the Tampa Bay Rays. Ruggiano was designated for assignment by the Rays, who now have 10 days to either trade him or put him on waivers. This, according to MLB Trade Rumors site, was to make room for the recent additions of outfielders Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon.
Ruggiano is an outfielder himself with a grand total of 96 career plate appearances with the Rays, the last coming back in 2008. He'll turn 29 in April and has put together a solid enough career in the minors for the Jays to take some interest in him. It would be a similar move to the one Alex Anthopoulos made last offseason when he claimed another productive Triple-A player with little big league time, Jarrett Hoffpauir. That wasn't a pennant winning move, but he had a solid season with Triple-A Las Vegas and was a good depth move.
The Jays aren't exactly flush with major league ready outfield players, and Ruggiano could step in and provide immediate competition to Corey Patterson for a bench spot. Ruggiano has spent adequate time at all three outfield spots in the minors and posted plus defensive numbers across the outfield in recent seasons as well. That includes 106 career games in centerfield with a +10 TotalZone rating.
Ruggiano would also provide ample speed on the bases, swiping 47 bases between 2009 and 2010 with Triple-A Durham at an 83 percent success rate. In four seasons with Durham from 2007-2010, Ruggiano hit .288 with a solid nine percent walk rate. He has some pop too, averaging 19.5 homers and 34 doubles per 600 plate appearances. His .181 isolated power looks nice, too, and these numbers came in the International League, not the hitting happy PCL where the Jays Triple-A team resides.
His one major drawback is his staggering 30.2 percent strikeout rate, well above average in any league. That's really his only significant drawback; otherwise, he actually looks pretty good for a guy who hasn't seen the show in two years. Players that get DFA'd don't typically come at a high cost in a trade, since the team has essentially announced they don't want him around anymore. The Jays could try and grab him on waivers too, but if the price to get him isn't much, and it shouldn't be, they should jump on it.
In another much more heralded development Texas Rangers third baseman Michael Young has asked to be traded. He doesn't seem too thrilled with being a part time player and sharing at-bats with Mike Napoli at the DH spot.
As covered here a little ways back, Young would be interesting to the Jays if his contractible obligations were halved and the Jays were left with a 24 million dollar commitment over three years. Even then it's not a slam dunk, but he would take over third for 2011 and push Jose Bautista into right field and Edwin Encarnacion to the DH spot.
Honestly, going out and signing Russell Branyan to DH would be a better solution to resolve the Jays issue of where to play Bautista. That will be covered tomorrow. The Michael Young issue is all over the place today, but as usual, the guys at FanGraphs have it covered for you with their own unique perspective.
Other than that, Blue Bird Banter's Tom Dakers has got a pretty good debate going over on their site about where to play Jose Bautista. And lastly, check out the Hardball Times outstanding breakdown of all things Kyle Drabek. Less than a week now until it all gets started down in Dunedin.
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