Heyman: Dodgers Still Looking at Relievers & Catchers, Apparently

February 1, 2013 at 10:53 am | Posted in Miguel Olivo | Leave a comment

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports referenced the Dodgers in a pair of somewhat interesting tweets today:

Standard “unsourced and unverifiable winter rumor” disclaimers do apply, but it’s interesting to discuss in the sense that the Dodgers seem to be more than adequately staffed at each position. (Who in the hell is going to make up a fake Miguel Olivo rumor, anyway? That’s crazier than a team that already has Ryan Hanigan & Devin Mesoraco signing Miguel Olivo to a… oh.)

Starting with the bullpen, it’s not a complete surprise that any team is always on the lookout for additional depth, because you can never have too much. After all, it was only just yesterday that we were assuming the Dodgers were watching Mark Lowe. But again, unless they’re just looking to sign guys to get killed in Albuquerque, it’s difficult to see where there’s a fit in the big league bullpen. This team almost always carries seven relievers, and six of those spots seem pretty well filled:

  1. 92topps_brandonleagueBrandon League
  2. Kenley Jansen
  3. Ronald Belisario
  4. J.P. Howell
  5. Matt Guerrier
  6. Extra starter (Ted Lilly?)

Vying for that seventh & final spot — if it even exists, which it doesn’t have to — are more than a few names. Scott Elbert, if his health allows him to return in time. Javy Guerra & Shawn Tolleson, each of whom have recent big league success. Paco Rodriguez & Josh Wall, who each made their brief debuts last season. Peter Moylan, one of our favorite NRIs. Perhaps a second excess starter, if Chad Billingsley is healthy and enough deals haven’t been made. I’m assuming there’s more there we don’t know — I don’t think anyone would be unhappy if Guerrier was set loose — and I’m certainly not against an upgrade if one presents itself. It just seems like an odd spot to be looking to add to.

Behind the plate, I’ve been clear that I in no way would oppose an upgrade to Tim Federowicz, who I’m far from sold on, and the NRI group of Wilkin Castillo, Ramon Castro, & Jesus Flores isn’t really more than just depth. If you can find someone who can provide a little offense to pair with A.J. Ellis and take some of the workload off, great; if not, then letting Federowicz and his supposedly excellent defense get acclimated is fine. That’s what makes the interest in Olivo odd, because while he’s got some pop — 12 or more homers in each of the last seven seasons — he’s one of the more atrocious hitters in baseball overall. Over the last two seasons, he’s got just a .248 OBP, which is beyond abysmal; he is, by one measure, the worst non-Brendan Ryan hitter in the sport.

In fact, I can’t help but share with you Baseball Prospectus‘ review of his 2011 “accomplishment”:

The Great Man theory would posit Miguel Olivo accomplished something historical in 2011: he led his team in runs batted in, despite posting one of the dozen worst OBPs in post-Deadball Era history. Only a truly elite hacker could be both his team’s most and least productive hitter, and Olivo is that hacker. He swings at nearly half of all pitches outside the strike zone. He swings at more than half the sliders he sees, and half the curves, and nearly two-thirds of changeups, and 80 percent of splitters. He’s a generational hacker. Opponents of the Great Man theory, though, would say Olivo is merely the product of his surroundings, his influence the result of his social conditions, and this is no doubt true. Olivo’s season is, in the end, not about Olivo at all, but rather about a lineup that had no better option than Miguel Olivo to bat cleanup 43 times.

He’s still known for a strong throwing arm, which at least provides him some defensive value, but that’s sort of the point of Federowicz, is not? Again, who knows the depth of the supposed interest in Olivo, if there was really any at all. It could have been merely “hey, can we hire Olivo to Facebook friend Federowicz? Oh, he still wants to play? Nevermind.”  Either way, we’re starting to see that the Dodgers have their feelers out on basically every player, even those at positions which seem to be otherwise set.


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