Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Defending Jim Leyland's decision to bring in Chance Ruffin

In the Twitter world Monday night, Tigers manager Jim Leyland was roundly criticized for bringing in Chance Ruffin with the bases loaded.
It was his major league debut. Ruffin gave up a hit there, and a couple home runs later. The Tigers lost the game to the White Sox.
But I didn't have an issue with Leyland's decision.
Ruffin was a lower draft pick (48th overall) in 2010, who was expected to reach the major leagues quickly. He has much better "stuff" than the back end of the Tigers' bullpen. He is not some young kid. He'll be 23 in a little less than a month. He throws hard - in the mid 90s. He has good bite on his breaking ball. He's from a high-profile college program - Texas. His father, Bruce, was a major league pitcher. He is better prepared for the pressure cooker of the big leagues than the vast majority of players making their major league debut.
The trade deadline is less than a week away. The Tigers need to find out whether this kid can help them, or whether they need to deal for bullpen help.
And they were trying to win the game, but knowing you can't use Phil Coke, Alberto Albuquerque and Joaquin Benoit every night. The other options weren't very good - Charles Furbush or David Purcey, the latter who has struggled with control. Or Lester Oliveros, who the Tigers sent down to make room for Ruffin. Remember, it was just the fifth inning.
This notion Leyland risked damaging this kid's psyche beyond repair is ridiculous. The key to playing in the major leagues, especially for a relief pitcher, is the ability to bounce back. The best are unshakable in that regard. The worst don't last long. Ruffin either has that inside him or he doesn't.
He isn't a fragile water glass you have to keep out of the dishwasher (there's a bad analogy for you).
Now as far as Leyland's decision to play Ryan Raburn at third base, that's a different story. He got away with it Monday, but in my opinion, playing Raburn at third is a recipe for disaster.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotta disgree, Book.

That was a batting practice pitch he threw, right over the plate, and a major league hitter did what major league hitters do to batting practice pitches.

Bad decision to put him in with bases loaded. I wouldn't do that unless my bullpen was completely jacked up, and the Tigers' wasn't last night. It was fresh and healthy.

12:36 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To quote Mr. Paige: "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."

2:28 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat, very good logical explanation, well thought out.

But all I could do last night, not realizing your explanation, is "here we go again"!! Deja vu.

Gosh, I hope Leyland doesn't pull this stuff in September.

3:27 PM 

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