Why are the Phillies so down on Darin Ruf? They complained about his outfield defense, but he was a first baseman playing outfield for the first time at the Major League level. If he had gotten the same number of at-bats as Marlon Bryd, Ruf would have similar numbers. Plus, he's $7.5 million cheaper.
-- Wade J., Lock Haven, Pa.
I'm not sure that the Phillies are down on Ruf as much as they felt they needed to upgrade their outfield defense. Defense was an issue last season -- just ask the pitchers. So I understand their desire to bring in a truer outfielder.
The Phils still have unanswered questions about Ruf. Can he hit big league pitching on a full-time basis? That remains to be seen, but he will have the opportunity to prove himself again in Spring Training. But I'm having a hard time finding a spot for Ruf on the 25-man roster if Philadelphia carries 13 pitchers. Kevin Frandsen, Freddy Galvis and Wil Nieves seem assured roster spots, leaving two bench jobs for two reserve outfielders. The Phillies need a left-handed bat for the bench, and Bobby Abreu could be that guy. And if Abreu makes the team, they need somebody to play center field if something happens to Ben Revere. Yes, they could use Byrd on a short-term basis, which would free a spot for Ruf. But if they keep somebody like John Mayberry Jr. or Tony Gwynn Jr. on the roster to play center field, Ruf could be the odd man out.
Is it fair to say that the Phillies are finished adding essential pieces this offseason?
-- Eli R., Anthem, Ariz.
The Phillies have expressed an interest in right-hander A.J. Burnett, which makes sense because of concerns about the rotation, but it is unclear how far they will go. Burnett is 37, but if he is looking for a multiyear deal, Philadelphia might want to avoid that. But otherwise, yes, it is believed the heavy lifting has been done. The Phils could add a piece here or there -- they say they would still like to find a reserve center fielder -- but if they do, it will be of a minor nature.
Would the Phillies ever consider going back to the uniform style from the 1970s on a permanent basis?
-- Michael R., Wilmington, Del.
I like it when the Phillies bring back retro uniforms for a day or two, but I wouldn't want to see the baby blues on a permanent basis. They are dated.
Do you think Cody Asche is the starting third baseman this year?
-- Rick L., Sugar Hill, N.H.
Yes. Asche has a big edge over Maikel Franco. The Phillies love Asche's makeup, glove and bat, and they think he will become a very good player. What will be interesting to watch is what happens if both Asche and Franco produce. The Phils need offense, and they need young players. Can they find a spot for both of these guys to play? Philadelphia has hinted that Asche could play in the outfield at some point. That would be interesting to see, but for now, expect to see Asche playing plenty of third base this spring.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com.