The other day, I was reading about a marathon minor-league game in Moosic, Pennsylvania. It was between Scranton Wilkes-Barre, the Yankees triple 'A' affiliate and the Detroit Tigers farm club, the Toledo Mudhens. The game started at 7:05pm and didn't end until 12:32am, lasting 20 innings in all before Scranton Wilkes-Barre won it 2-1, on a line drive home run to left by Randy Ruiz.
I had to pause for a second. I knew that name. Could it possibly be the same Randy Ruiz who played for the Blue Jays? Turns out it was, and he is still grinding it out in the minors at age 35, looking for another shot at 'The Show'.
Ruiz is only a footnote in Blue Jays history and a brief one at that. The 6'3, 250 pound minor-league slugger had a brief stint with the Minnesota Twins in 2008 and hit his first homer and only major-league homer of that year. That same season, he was named the International League rookie of the year for his work at Rochester at age 30! He still holds the Rochester record with a 24-game hit streak.
In the off-season, Ruiz was signed by the Blue Jays to play Triple 'A' at Las Vegas. Though not really adept at any particular position, Ruiz hit so well, he eventually got called up to the Blue Jays. Over a 33-game stint, Ruiz hit .313 with 10 homers and 17 runs batted in.
That gave rise to the idea that maybe the Blue Jays had captured lightning in a bottle and, at the very least, the Jays would have a solid DH and decent bat off the bench. But the magic disappeared in 2010 when Ruiz only lasted 13 games with the club. He hit his 12th and final home runs in the Majors and batted just .150 before getting cut loose.
Ruiz has played ball in Japan and in his parents' native Puerto Rico most winters. This spring at 35, he signed on with the Chicago White Sox but was cut loose again and landed in Mexico, where the Yankees discovered him and signed him for Scranton Wilkes-Barre.
In total, Ruiz has played in 12 Major League organizations, including the Yankees and the Phillies twice each. Is he nearing the end? Hard to say. Teams are always looking for power bats, even to just fill out their minor league rosters.
It's interesting how Ruiz joined the Blue Jays in the first place. General manager Alex Anthopoulos put Alex Rios and his huge contract on waivers to see if their would be any takers. Lo and behold, the White Sox claimed Rios, saved the Jays alot of money and opened up a spot on the 40-man roster. That spot went to Ruiz, who went on to become the Pacific Coast League' Most Valuable Player in that same season he was called up to the Blue Jays.
Crash Davis of Bull Durham has nothing on this guy.
The Major League non-waiver trade deadline is coming up at 4pm on Wednesday. White Sox right hander Jake Peavy says he's already got his bags packed and is ready to move on.
Maybe the most under-rated trade of last year's deadline involved St. Louis and Miami. The Cardinals dealt third base prospect Zach Cox, whom they had chosen 25th overall in the first round of the 2010 Draft to the Marlins for a journeyman reliever out of Venezuela by the name of Edward Mujica, who figured to be just one more arm in the bullpen this season for the Redbirds.
Early in the season though, Jason Motte, who had 42 save for St. Louis a year ago, was injured and gone for the season, Mujica stepped into the breach and has racked up 30 saves in 32 chances, tied with the Pirates now-injured closer Jason Grilli.
The 29-year-old Mujica has struck out 38 and walked only two to become a first-time All-Star this year. He's making $3.2 million this season and is eligible for free agency after next season. The Cardinals struck gold on a trade that probably slipped under most people's radar last July.