The title of this article is a little misleading. Yes the Phillies have been busy the past 24 hours, but the moves they’re making are of the unspectacular sort that’s not generating much, if any excitement with the fan base.
Last night the Phils signed 36 year-old catcher Wil Nieves to be their backup catcher in 2014. Last year Nieves made $800,000. It’s assumed his Phillies contract is for a similar amount, but terms have not been disclosed. Nieves will be replacing Erik Kratz who was traded later last night for Toronto relief pitcher Brad Linclon. More on that in a moment.
This will be Nieves 7th team since debuting in July of 2002 with the San Diego Padres. Nieves was picked off the waiver wire by the then Anaheim Angels and spent all of 2003-04 with the AAA Salt Lake Stingers of the Pacific Coast League. In March of 2005 he was traded to the New York Yankees for Bret Prinz. In three years with the Yankees Nieves amassed a total of 76 plate appearances, spending most of his time with the Yanks AAA affiliate.
Since leaving the Yankees as a free agent in 2008 Nieves has spent time with the Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. In his 10 years of major league service Nieves has only 1,118 plate appearances and has put up a career slash line of .242/.283/.314. He has a total of eight home runs, 103 RBI’s and 78 runs scored in his career. Yes, he’s a major league catcher – barely. Last year he had 195 PA’s, the second most of his career in a season. He finished 2013 with a line that read .297/.320/.369 and an eye-popping one HR and 22 RBI’s.
Why is Ruben Amaro Jr. so averse to giving any young players a chance? Cameron Rupp is an above average defensive catcher who has some pop in his bat. Last year between AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley, Rupp swatted 14 HR’s and had an ISO of .179. Rupp’s resume includes three years at the University of Texas and four years in the Phils minor league system. He was drafted in the third round in the 2010 amateur draft and worked his way steadily from the New York Penn League to the International League. Last September he was called up to the Phillies for a cup of coffee. If he can’t earn a backup spot on the 2014 Phils because they prefer to go with another mid 30’s catcher, I don’t know if he’ll ever get an opportunity in Philly. Please tell us Ruben…what’s the plan??
The Phils second move last night was trading Erik Kratz and minor league relief pitcher Rob Rasmussen (acquired from the LA Dodgers for Michael Young) for 28 year old relief pitcher Brad Lincoln. Lincoln was the 4th overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft in 2006. Since then he’s had an up and down career that’s amounted to a career 4.66 ERA and 1.386 WHIP.
Lincoln is a low risk, high upside reliever who the Phils hope will add depth to their bullpen. His career high 6.36 BB/9 and 1.579 WHIP last year were in stark contrast to his 2012 numbers – a 3.68 ERA and a 1.182 WHIP, both career bests in his four year major league career. He also had 88 SO’s in 88 IP in 2012. What’s intriguing about Lincoln’s 2013 season is his peripheral numbers were terrible, as illustrated above, but he still managed a respectable 3.98 ERA and a 104 ERA+. It will be very interesting to see which Brad Lincoln shows up in February when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.
We said last night the Phils would probably add two relievers – one, an established late inning relief pitcher who has yet to be acquired, and one reclamation project. Welcome to Philadelphia Brad. You’re this year’s Ruben Amaro reclamation project for the bullpen.