On Carlos Ruiz and Catcher Defense

On Carlos Ruiz and Catcher Defense

Carlos Ruiz picked a good time to nab his second base stealer of the year. If not for this rifle to get Gregor Blanco at second for the first out in the bottom of the ninth, Marco Scutaro gets walk-off winner with next at-bat, a double to center. The Phillies don't even get a chance.

Still, style points don't change Ruiz's concerning caught stealing line so far: 2 for 10 (.200).

That's worth watching. When you look back the explosion in Ruiz's production last year, when he failed a drug test for Adderall that triggered a 25-game ban, a significant uptick in his CS% was right along with it.

Before 2012, Ruiz had only once in his career gotten more than 30% of base stealers -- in 2007. His six-year career average was 26.3%. In 2011, he only caught 23.0% of 100 who tried.

Last year: 34.0% of a nearly identical number of attempts.

In relative terms, that was the difference between the worst of 11 qualifying catchers (Brian McCann) and cracking the top 5 in all of baseball.

How does that translate? Take away 13 base runners in scoring position, where on average ML teams drove in a run in about 35.1% of at-bats, and Ruiz arguably saved 4.5 more runs on SB attempts alone.

That doesn't even begin to factor in the difference of 10 extra outs, whether they ended in an inning, changed a strategy or killed the mojo of a rally. Clearly a big deal.

Ruiz hasn't said how much amphetamines helped his game. But when you consider what they do -- heighten focus, in some cases enough to create "tunnel vision" -- it stands to reason that a little extra concentration could go just as far behind the plate as it does at it.

Still, stolen base attempts don't occur in a vacuum. The pitcher (his handedness, delivery, even what pitch he's throwing) often determines whether the catcher even has a chance.

You could argue that for most of the eight steals on his record this year, Ruiz was toast from the start. Four came in the two starts when Roy Halladay realized things in his shoulder were fraying like twine. Two others were with rookie Jonathan Pettibone on the hill. Another, with the lumbering Phillippe Aumont.

In other words: 70% of Ruiz's stolen base equation this year weren't factors last year.

With rookie righty Tyler Cloyd joining the rotation Friday, and with lefty John Lanann likely out for at least another three weeks, Ruiz's help isn't likely to get better any time soon. So even if the company mattered more than the chemicals last  year, Ruiz needs to be sharp as he can be moving forward.

And yeah, breaking his 4 for 29 slump at the dish would be nice, too.

Draymond Green says what we all really think about Joel Embiid

Draymond Green says what we all really think about Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid has caught the eye of a Golden State Warrior.

At Golden State's shootaround Sunday night at the Sixers' practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, Warriors power forward Draymond Green said what we all think about Joel Embiid.

"He has a chance to be really f------ good," Green said.

Green and the Warriors will miss Embiid Monday when they tip off against the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center. Embiid will miss two more games to minimize the risk of aggravating his left knee injury. The Sixers are targeting Friday against the Knicks for his return (see story).

Embiid hasn't played since the Jan. 27 game against Houston and has missed 16 of their last 17 games. Still, the 22-year-old has shown, when healthy, he's a special player that Sixers can build around.

In 31 games -- with minute restrictions and missing 27 games, too -- Embiid is averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.1 assists. He's shooting 46.6 from the field, and 36.7 percent from beyond the arc. Despite running a tremendous Twitter campaign for the NBA All-Star Game, he missed out being an All-Star in his first year. He won the NBA's Rookie of the Month for October, November, December and January. Yeah, we all agree with Green.

But how much of Embiid has Green seen?

"I haven't had a chance to watch him," Green said. "I think he has a chance to be damn good. He's figuring it out. He's versatile. He can do a lot of things."

For more from the Warriors on the Sixers' potential, watch the video above.

Best of NHL: Sergei Bobrovsky ties career high with 32nd win as Blue Jackets top Rangers

Best of NHL: Sergei Bobrovsky ties career high with 32nd win as Blue Jackets top Rangers

NEW YORK -- Cam Atkinson and Alexander Wennberg each scored twice to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Sunday.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 shots to tie his career high with his 32nd win. Josh Anderson also scored and Oliver Bjorkstrand had two assists to help the Blue Jackets win for the fourth time in five games.

Columbus won for the second time in two days after its bye week and moved past the Rangers into third place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Blue Jackets won three of five in the season series -- including both games at Madison Square Garden -- after losing seven straight meetings coming in.

Rick Nash scored a tying goal for the Rangers early in the first period. Jesper Fast scored in the final second, and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 26 saves (see full recap).

Surging Blackhawks beat Blues on late Anisimov goal
CHICAGO -- Artem Anisimov scored with 5:20 left in the third period to lift the Chicago Blackhawks over the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday night for their fourth straight win and ninth in their last 10.

Anisimov beat Jake Allen on the glove side from the right edge of the crease for his 22nd goal after taking a pinpoint cross-ice pass from linemate Artemi Panarin. Tanner Kero added an empty-netter with 2.6 seconds left.

Patrick Kane assisted on Anisimov's winner and scored a power-play goal. Jonathan Toews also had a goal and an assist for surging Chicago, which pulled one point behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith had an assist for his 500th NHL point.

Magnus Paajarvi and Alex Pietrangelo scored for the Blues, who played their first game following their bye week and lost their third straight (see full recap).

Gaudreau's 2 goals helps Flames down Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Johnny Gaudreau had two goals and an assist to help the Calgary Flames beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Sunday.

Micheal Ferland also scored for the Flames. They have earned at least one point in six straight games, going 5-0-1 in that stretch to move into playoff position in the Western Conference.

Victor Rask scored on the power play for Carolina. The Hurricanes have lost six of seven to fall into last place in the Metropolitan Division.

Brian Elliott made 34 saves for the Flames, with his best coming with roughly 15 minutes to play when he stopped Jeff Skinner from point-blank range.

Eddie Lack finished with 21 saves. He made his second straight start for Carolina (see full recap).

Turris, Anderson lead Senators past Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kyle Turris scored the tiebreaking goal in the second period and Craig Anderson stopped 37 shots to lift the Ottawa Senators over the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Sunday night.

Zack Smith had an early short-handed goal for the Senators, who have won four of six.

Jonathan Marchessault scored for Florida, and James Reimer made 31 saves. The Panthers have lost three straight after sweeping a five-game road trip, and dropped their last four home games overall.

Turris put Ottawa ahead when his wrist shot went over Reimer's glove at 9:58 of the second for his 21st goal of the season.

The Senators took a 1-0 lead on a short-handed goal by Smith. Reimer blocked a shot from Erik Karlsson, but Smith grabbed the rebound and poked in the puck at 6:28 of the first. Smith has 12 career short-handed goals (see full recap).