This story was excerpted from Todd Zolecki’s Phillies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
It was late August 2008. Charlie Manuel just got another question about Carlos Ruiz, who hit .219 that season. He had been answering questions about Chooch for months.
Why is this guy still in the lineup?
Isn’t there a better option?
“If everyone else was hitting, we wouldn’t even be talking about Ruiz,” Manuel finally said.
The former manager’s response comes to mind as president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski talked this week in Atlanta about Odúbel Herrera and the Phillies’ lack of production in center field. Phillies center fielders have a .644 OPS, which ranks 18th in baseball. They have been in the bottom 10 in OPS in each of the previous four seasons, making this an annual source of frustration for fans. But Dombrowski echoed Manuel’s thoughts about Ruiz, when asked about Herrera.
“You’re not going to have nine stars at different positions,” Dombrowski said. “You have to have some complementary players. I mean, our star players are [J.T.] Realmuto, [Rhys] Hoskins, [Jean] Segura, Didi [Gregorius] has been out … [Bryce] Harper, [Nick] Castellanos and [Kyle] Schwarber. Those are your stars.
“You have to have some complementary players. [Herrera is] a complementary player. He’s not a star.”
Herrera is maddening to watch at times because when he makes a mistake, it…