Thoughts: Chance Ruffin


Well my apologies for my absence today. I’m sure no one really missed me but I had every intention of writing this post up nearly 6 hours ago and in all honesty I wrote it up once went to use the famous Baseball-Reference linker and instead clicked the wrong book mark and that was the end of my 750 word blog post.

So let’s try this again.

Chance Ruffin, as has been reported pretty much everywhere that covers baseball, is now a member of the Seattle Mariners. This isn’t a huge shock to anyone as he was one of the three players reported to be on “the list” the Mariners could choose from. It had also been reported by a few different sources and Jason Churchill in paticular, that it was most likely to be Ruffin.

So now that we’ve had time to digest it all and get used to him being apart of this bullpen what exactly did we get?

Ruffin isn’t spectacular though he has pretty good velocity and sits primarily around 94 mph and when he’s psyched he can touch the better side of 95, 96 and supposedly 97. He isn’t a “future closer” in the same fashion as Josh Lueke or Dan Cortes who have both have near consistent triple digit velocity on their fastballs a long with pitches that are at times just flat out filthy.

But what Ruffin is, is consistent. He throws plenty of strikes and commands his fastball well. Something neither Lueke or Cortes have shown the ability to do thus far in their careers. Ruffin has a plus pitch in his slider though I haven’t ever heard it called “nasty” or “filthy” or any other word that my Mom would use to describe my room at 12 years-old. But pitch has the ability to make hitters swing-and-miss and that’s important.

Ruffins’ draft report said he has a curveball that he used to keep lefties off-balance, but he has yet to throw his curve against any of the 16 batters he’s faced so far in the big leagues so I haven’t really had a chance to see it. His change-up isn’t special and it’s a below average pitch for him but the fact he can throw it for a strike is remarkable in the sense that not many pitchers who have been specific relief pitchers are usually able to do that.

What is a huge plus to this trade is acquiring someone that can be consistent in this bullpen. It’s something that it’s been lacking. He’s going to be unspectacular at times but he should get the job done just fine. He’s remarkably polished pitcher for a 22 year-old that has seen all of 60 innings in the minor leagues.

I know a lot of Mariners are thinking now and to be honest I don’t agree. I don’t think Ruffin makes a Brandon League trade really all that much easier should the Mariners go in that direction.

Ruffin is a solid middle relief pitcher with the potential to be a good set-up man. Maybe that slider plays up better than I think and he becomes a closer with it. Maybe he just never makes the transition and his stuff is too average across the board to ever make a difference.

The point is if you are going to trade Brandon League it’s not because he’s not needed in the Mariners pen. I think he’d be a fairly good asset for this team going forward in 2012. I think that this team is a potential .500 team RIGHT NOW before we make any upgrades.

If you are going to trade Brandon League you aren’t doing it because you feel the bullpen can live without him, you are doing it because you are trading him for more than he is worth.

Maybe, and I’m going out on a bit of limb here, maybe the Nationals feel like with Stephen Strasburgh back and a couple of key moves this off-season, they have a shot in the NL East next year. Maybe they want help with the back of their bullpen and are willing to part with Derek Norris. Maybe the Rockies finally realize that Chris Iannetta isn’t a bad catcher and they become willing to part with Wilin Rosario in an effort to bolster their bullpen.

These are both key guys that if the Mariners were able to get them it would be a huge impact to this team not just in 2012 but for the next 6 years. That’s when you trade League, when you get an overwhelming offer in which this team is better off trading League than keeping him.

Ruffin certainly adds depth to an important position and it would be nice to have him around should League get traded. But, in my opinion as a fan, he doesn’t make me feel like “Hey, I can trade Brandon League now because I have Chance Ruffin“.

Just my two cents. I’m looking forward to having Ruffin around for the next few years.