The True Face Of The Dodgers

January 16, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Posted in Dee Gordon, Jerry Hairston, Zack Greinke | Leave a comment

MLB is running this “face of [team]” promotion, which is mildly interesting, I guess. Fans can vote by using hashtags for the “face” of their team, and so far the results have been expected — Joey Votto, Felix Hernandez, Joe Mauer, etc… with the obvious exception of the fact that Oakland fans trolled the game and voted Eric Sogard.

So I got to thinking, and well, people aren’t taking this seriously enough. Giants fans, you’re really voting for Buster Posey when this face exists? Come on now. People are making this a popularity contest, but it’s supposed to be about faces.

And the Dodgers, well… they have some faces. Who is the true face?

Dee Gordon, out at second:

gordon_shocked_nlds_gm2

Gordon, looking at his stat line:

dee_gordon_face

Former utilityman and future broadcaster Jerry Hairston either in shock or realizing he chose poorly:

jerry_hairston_shocked

Super mega happy A.J. Ellis:

aj_ellis_celebrates

Evil Zack Greinke:

Passive-aggressive face:

mattingly_colletti_press_conference“I have so many dollars face,” even though this picture is two years old:

“You may have thought you heard me say I wanted a lot of money, but what I said was: Give me all the money you have." (via)

“You may have thought you heard me say I wanted a lot of money, but what I said was: Give me all the money you have.” (via)

Derp face:

league_sad_2013-05-31
Whatever the hell this is:

wilson_celebrate-2013-09-19

Advertisements

Concerned About Second Base Yet?

January 9, 2014 at 11:40 am | Posted in Alexander Guerrero, Dee Gordon | Leave a comment

This morning at FanGraphs, I took a look at the increasingly questionable second base situation for the Dodgers:

But while there’s obvious questions about how reliable the projections might be, the unavoidable truth is this: if Guerrero doesn’t work out or isn’t ready, the Dodgers have almost nowhere else they can turn, and so if this isn’t the worst situation for a contender in the bigs, it’s almost certainly the riskiest.

This isn’t our Miguel Rojas. But it is a Miguel Rojas, and how could I resist?

It’s not that I don’t like Alexander Guerrero, of course. It’s that he has so many questions marks hanging over him — mainly the missed season in Cuba and limited winter ball play thanks to an injured left hamstring — that I can’t say that it’s at all a given that he’s going to be ready to play on Opening Day. And, though the FG article only went up this morning, I wrote it on Tuesday night, before we got the added curveball about his uncertain visa status.

As you’ll see in the FG article, the primary in-house option is Dee Gordon, which is hardly appealing, and this situation is probably going to get Justin Sellers through yet another winter on the 40-man roster. And yet Ned Colletti keeps talking about Miguel Rojas, who did get an invite to the Winter Development Program, and who reportedly has an outstanding glove. Yet there’s just seemingly no way that a guy who has a career .234/.302/.287 line in parts of eight minor league seasons — all but 44 games of which have been below Triple-A, where he hit only .186/.226/.233 in 2012 and didn’t return to in 2013 — can be anything approximating even a below-average major league hitter.

Hopefully, Guerrero gets into the country, arrives at camp, and shocks us all. But with each day, I’m feeling less confident about that, and there’s no good alternatives available otherwise. Right now, this is probably the biggest trouble spot on the team heading into 2014.

On A Fun Dee Gordon Rumor

December 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Posted in Dee Gordon, Justin Maxwell | Leave a comment
Just imagine it! (via EephusBlue. Buy a shirt!)

Just imagine it! (via EephusBlue. Buy a shirt!)

I don’t usually spend a lot of time digging into every rumor, because there’s dozens and the overwhelming majority disappear quickly, never to be heard from again. But I’m going to talk about this one, because it’s not from the usual suspects and it’s actually pretty interesting.

Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune, who was a Royals beat writer until moving to the northwest a few weeks ago, offered this:

One #Royals rumor as I leave the winter meetings: Talking to the Dodgers about trading OF Justin Maxwell for INF Dee Gordon.

With the obvious caveats that this is just talk and not particularly likely to happen, this is a pretty fun idea that I like more the more I think about it. I think we all know that Gordon’s prospect shine has long worn off, especially now that he’s been moved off of shortstop and may have a ceiling as a utility player — and even that is only if he can learn to hit. For a while, I’ve felt that when the end comes for Gordon with the Dodgers, it’ll be as a toss-in as part of some larger deal.

Maybe that’s what will happen, but this is a fun thought too, because Maxwell actually has some value. I know, I know: why do the Dodgers need another outfielder? Because he actually could fill a role I’ve long wanted them to, and that’s as a righty hitting complement to Andre Ethier & Carl Crawford who can fill in at center, as well. (Sort of like Reed Johnson, but I like Maxwell better.)

Maxwell, 30 last month, was a fourth round pick of Washington in 2005, and spent most of his time in the Nationals organization before spending 2012-13 with Houston, and finishing out 2013 with Kansas City. In just 352 plate appearances in 2012 in Houston, he hit 18 homers, enough that I guessed he could be a 20/15 guy given regular playing time. It didn’t happen, because he broke his hand after being hit by a pitch and then dealt with concussion problems upon his return. Finally healthy after a July trade to the Royals, he played extremely well down the stretch (.268/.351/.505 with five homers in 111 plate appearances.)

He strikes out a ton, so he’ll never have a great OBP, but as a righty with power who is an average-to-slightly-above defender and can cover all three spots? For Gordon? Yes and please. It’d create some redundancy with Scott Van Slyke, but Maxwell can play center, and honestly I don’t hate the idea of having both on the bench.

The Royals have a bit of an outfield logjam themselves, with Norichika Aoki joining Maxwell, Alex Gordon, David Lough, Jarrod Dyson, and Lorenzo Cain, so they’re likely to make some kind of a move. They have a huge hole at second base, and while Gordon isn’t going to suddenly be a starter there — they’re reportedly in on Omar Infante and Mark Ellis — he’s a clear change-of-scenery guy, one who would benefit from a new home. (And, of course, Dee’s father Tom Gordon had plenty of success as a Royal.)

Again, this was a one-off tweet by a beat writer, and even if the discussions were real, this almost certainly leads nowhere. But I’ve long been a Maxwell fan, and the idea of turning Gordon into any kind of value, well, that’s extremely appealing. Now let’s return to our daily lives, never to discuss this again.

2013 Dodgers in Review #8: SS Dee Gordon

November 7, 2013 at 10:23 am | Posted in 2013 in Review, Dee Gordon | Leave a comment

90topps_deegordon.234/.314/.298 106pa 1hr 10sb .273 wOBA 0.0 fWAR D-

2013 in brief: Killed any last prospect value he might have had with more uninspired play during Hanley Ramirez‘ hamstring injury.

2014 status: If he’s not traded first, another year spent in Albuquerque, though this time trying to be a utility player.

Previous: 2011 | 2012

******

Hey, remember when Dee Gordon used to be a prospect? That sure seems so long ago, now. Coming off a 2012 season that was just unthinkably terrible, Gordon never really had a chance to make the Opening Day roster, and he didn’t. But when Ramirez hurt his thumb in the World Baseball Classic, it wasn’t Gordon who got the call: It was Justin Sellers, mostly because of his superior glove, which should tell you all you need to know about Gordon’s status.

As Sellers and the team struggled while Gordon played well in Triple-A, fan furor for Gordon’s recall grew, to the point where I had to remind everyone that “yes, it could be worse than Sellers” on April 16. The Dodgers resisted the impulse, but then when Ramirez injured his hamstring about ten minutes after returning from his thumb injury, they decided to give Gordon a shot on May 4.

After a week of that, it had been a little bit of everything:

Dee Gordon is absolutely everything we thought he would be, and I mean as both a positive and a negative. He’s showing patience. He’s making mistakes on the basepaths. He’s scoring runs that potentially no other player in the game could manage. He’s getting to balls; he’s bobbling balls. He’s everything, and he’s nothing.

But as Gordon tends to do, he cooled off quickly. He had just five hits the next two weeks, and when he was sent down in late May, he was hitting only .175/.278/.254 — because, although some people stubbornly refuse to acknowledge it, he’s not a quality major league hitter and is unlikely to ever be, which I went into in great detail on May 27:

But while many liked to point to a batting average of .429 after two games as an indication Gordon should have been up all along, it quickly became clear that little had changed. And now, as Gordon has had just about as many plate appearances as Sellers had, the question of “could it be worse?” is… well, yes.

Think about it this way: on offense, the contributions have been nearly equally poor, as the close-to-identical wOBA marks show. Yes, Gordon’s speed on the bases is obviously superior, but he’s given some of that value back with poor decisions, and his net stolen base total is merely three.

But on defense, even though Sellers hasn’t really been wonderful (0 Defensive Runs Saved, -5.1 UZR/150), Gordon has been worse (-2 DRS, -9.3 UZR/150). I’m aware of the risks of using defensive stats over a month of play, and so that’s why these are not to be taken as gospel, but as a data point that backs up what we’ve seen with our own eyes. Yes, Gordon’s gotten to some balls that Sellers never would have; he’s also botched more than a few that haven’t been marked down as errors. Neither has added much on offense, especially as Gordon just went more than a week without a hit, and Gordon has given back more on defense.

From then on, when Ramirez was unavailable, the team could take no more of either, and it was Nick Punto who got the playing time. Back in Triple-A, Gordon started seeing some time at second base in June, eventually playing 20 games there. Gordon returned in August when Ramirez hurt his shoulder in Chicago, but started only three games before going back down.

Unfortunately, one of them was this mess on August 11:

This all came despite Gordon having what is probably the most Dee Gordon game ever. Gordon made what was an admittedly nice defensive play in the early innings, then struck out in that big spot in the second. He then used his outstanding speed to get on via a bunt in the fourth and an infield single in the seventh, around another whiff in the fifth. But he also made an error in the third… and another in the sixth… and another in the eighth. It was an embarrassing night for him, and frankly I’ll be surprised if Nick Punto doesn’t start every game until Hanley Ramirez is ready.

That’s more or less what happened. He came back up once again when rosters expanded, but started only three games in September. (He made an error in one, and somehow managed to get only one assist combined in the other two. For a shortstop, that seems impossible.)

With Matt Kemp out and Andre Ethier hobbled, Gordon made the NLDS roster, even shagging some balls in center as an emergency option. He didn’t bat, but you might remember his one appearance in Game 2:

He somewhat surprisingly made the NLCS roster too, and again didn’t bat, appearing only when Adrian Gonzalez was bizarrely lifted in Game 1.

Gordon still has an option remaining, so unless he’s traded, his 2014 might look a lot like his 2013 — a whole lot of time in Albuquerque, with occasional recalls when injuries strike. He’s going to be 26 next year, and in 669 plate appearances he’s hit just .256/.301/.312, with generally terrible defense. The good news is that his walk rate this year both in the bigs (9.4%) and in Triple-A (11.8%) were career highs, so there’s perhaps some indication his plate discipline is improving.

But for all his speed, he’s not a particularly effective base-stealer, and I no longer hold out any hope he can play shortstop well enough to be usable there in the bigs, because he’s just awful. Second? Center? Maybe, maybe not, though they seem committed to giving the outfield a shot in winter ball. It just doesn’t seem likely he’ll find out in Los Angeles.

******

Next! A shortstop you want to talk about! It’s Hanley Ramirez!

Dee Gordon Finding Another Position To Not Hit At

October 29, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Posted in Dee Gordon | Leave a comment

gordon_atlanta_2013-05-17

I joke, but only mostly. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Dee Gordon is listed as an outfielder for Dominican Winter League team, Tigres del Licey, and it makes sense at this point. (The MLB.com roster page still says “SS”, but Ken Gurnick says he “will play the outfield,” and that team does have Jurickson Profar, so that’s good enough for me.)

Licey’s own site put out a release saying that Gordon would be in uniform for tonight’s game against Aguilas, though it appears he didn’t play, and they refer to his time there last season in “his original position of shortstop,” so there’s that.

There’s also this, which isn’t really related but is still worth sharing:

The information was offered Monday by the club’s general manager, Manny Acta, who added that the veteran Guillermo Mota also preparing to join the Tigers’ pitching staff.

While I was against a Gordon position switch at one point, arguing that a move off of shortstop would cut his already limited value, I’ve changed my opinion, because I no longer have a lot of faith that he can handle short. He’s had more than a full season of play to prove that he can’t, and it’s not like it’s steadily improved, either. (Not to put undue importance on one game, but I assume no one’s forgotten his three-error mess on August 11, after which he never really played again.) Since the Dodgers are overstuffed with outfielders and have just about nothing behind Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, I’m guessing the team is more than convinced he can’t handle it either.

We’ve seen infielders who proved they couldn’t handle the left side move to the outfield before, whether it was shortstops like B.J. Upton & Billy Hamilton or third basemen like Alex Gordon & Ryan Braun. The difference is that Alex Gordon & Braun are elite hitters, and Upton was productive before cratering this year. Hamilton is probably the player most closely associated with Dee Gordon, but his speed seems to be even better.

Gordon’s minor league line is superior to Hamilton’s, though of course he’s proven that he can’t hit big league pitching, while Hamilton hasn’t yet had that opportunity. And that’s really the point, here, because it’s great to get Gordon some added flexibility and hope that maybe he can be a useful multipositional player in the bigs. But if he can’t improve his batting skills to be something less than putrid in the bigs, it’s not going to matter where he can or can’t play in the field.

Hoping that he can maybe be a bench player is a long, long way away from when we’d hoped he might be a star, isn’t it?

Wanted: A Center Fielder for the Playoffs

October 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Posted in Dee Gordon, Scott Van Slyke | Leave a comment

Sometimes, I’m not sure if anything I add to a story can be funnier than the original information itself:

There’s like a 0.00001% chance that Dee Gordon, who cannot hit and has never played center field, will play center field in the playoffs, unless Yasiel Puig somehow steamrolls Skip Schumaker and they both end up in the hospital. There’s probably even less of a chance that Scott Van Slyke actually ends up out there, something akin to what happens if you divide by zero. I imagine Don Mattingly is just doing some due diligence for that complete worst-case scenario, or perhaps more likely no one wanted to stand by Puig and risk getting injured.

Still, just imagine it. Imagine Gordon in center field. Imagine Van Slyke there. In a game that not only counts, but is the culmination of months of hard work. Imagine how many things have to go wrong for that to be the situation, where two guys who A) don’t play the position and B) aren’t even certain to make the postseason roster end up playing center field. It’s glorious, or at least it would be if it weren’t so mind-numbingly terrifying.

It’s not going to happen, because it can’t, but seeing that out there at least makes me a little less likely to be hard on people who want to call up Joc Pederson for the playoffs. (Short version: even if asking a guy to make his big-league debut in the playoffs wasn’t a terrible idea, he hasn’t started a game since August 31.)

Anyway, if you’re so desperate that you’re really looking at those guys in center, even if only in an emergency situation, you put Puig out there. Simple as that. No, he’s not an ideal option, but if my choices are “Puig misses a cutoff man” or “Van Slyke turns a single into an inside-the-park homer,” it’s not all that complicated.

It’s going to be a long next 48 hours, I think. Eeesh.

Reds 4, Dodgers 3: It Helps To Use Fast Guys to Run

September 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Posted in Dee Gordon | Leave a comment

wilson_2013-09-07If you thought that Zack Greinke against Mat Latos was going to be a matchup of two of the National League’s best pitchers, you might have been considerably surprised by how this game got started. Latos allowed four to reach in the first inning and two more in the second, including Yasiel Puig‘s 15th homer of the season; Greinke gave up four singles to the Reds in the bottom of the first, scoring two.

But for both starters, that was really it. Greinke pitched through the sixth, and Latos through the seventh, without allowing any further damage, with Greinke adding nine strikeouts against just a single walk. For Greinke, that runs his streak of allowing two runs or fewer to eight in a row and 11 of his last 12.

Unfortunately, Greinke was replaced by Paco Rodriguez, pitching for the sixth time since last Friday, and again it didn’t go well. Rodriguez squandered the lead by allowing a single and then a double to Cesar Izturis — yes, that Cesar Izturis — before being saved by Ronald Belisario. Rodriguez has been wonderful all season, and carried a .182/.265/.318 line against since August 1 into this game, so it’s not like he’s turned into Russ Ortiz or anything, but he’s had a tough enough last few outings that I think we can all agree a nice long rest is exactly what he needs.

By the way, as much as some like to complain about Don Mattingly, thank whatever deity you prefer every single day that Dusty Baker is not your manager. In the bottom of the ninth, J.P. Howell walked leadoff man Chris Heisey. Baker then took the bat out of Shin-Soo Choo‘s hands (and gave the Dodgers a precious out) by having him sacrifice in order to get to Izturis, of all people. When Izturis failed to reach, Joey Votto was intentionally walked, so Baker successfully avoided having either of his two best hitters swinging the bat. Thanks, Dusty!

Of course, Mattingly isn’t without his own negatives, and the entire tenth inning showed exactly why. After Adrian Gonzalez led off with a single to center, he came out for a pinch runner, as you’d expect. But it wasn’t Dee Gordon, who exists on this planet for no other reason than to pinch run, it was Nick Punto. (Gordon was not suffering from the effects of being hit by a throw yesterday, as some suggested.) With expanded September rosters, you don’t have to worry about using extra players if you didn’t want to let Gordon field, because you could still put Punto in at third base and move Michael Young to first, as Mattingly did. Punto ended the inning standing on first as none of the three hitters following were able to move him, wasting a great chance for Gordon to attempt to steal and generate some fastballs.

In the bottom of the tenth, Brian Wilson — who looked absolutely atrocious, to the point that Mattingly and the trainers came out to check on him — walked Ryan Ludwick to start the inning. Baker countered by sending out his own speedy guy who can’t do anything other than run in Billy Hamilton, who immediately stole second. That ended up proving crucial once Todd Frazier singled to right, where even a strong throw by Puig wasn’t close to preventing Hamilton from scoring the winning run.

That’s now three losses in a row, and no, no matter what you hear elsewhere, it’s not time to panic or anything close to it. But I would like it if the bats would decide to start hitting again, because great pitching will take you only so far. Fortunately, there’s still three weeks until the playoffs, so time enough to work that out.

The Hanley Ramirez Backup Plan

August 5, 2013 at 9:22 am | Posted in Dee Gordon, Hanley Ramirez | Leave a comment

gordon_sanfran_2013-05-04When I said yesterday that Hanley Ramirez may be the most irreplaceable player on this team, I really meant that. You can (and, as we’ve seen, already have) deal with losing Matt Kemp or Carl Crawford for some time because there’s great depth in the outfield. You can live without players like Mark Ellis or Juan Uribe, because neither are really that great and there’s a ton of utility guys floating around here. You can’t really ever replace Clayton Kershaw, I suppose, but at least that’s only one out of every five games.

But Ramirez is different because we’ve already seen what happens when he’s not available, and it’s not pretty. They tried Justin Sellers when Ramirez missed the start of the season with an injured thumb, and they got a line of .188/.263/.246 with mediocre defense. They tried Dee Gordon when Ramirez hurt his hamstring shortly after returning, and for that they got a line of .175/.278/.254 with terrible defense. They’ll probably have Nick Punto in the lineup tonight in St. Louis, but he’s hitting all of .213/.276/.275 since May 1 and isn’t someone you can count on on a daily basis.

Considering how great Ramirez has been, there might not be a larger dropoff in the game from a starter to a backup. No, really — look at the Dodger shortstops on FanGraphs. Ramirez has a massive .447 wOBA. Punto lags behind at .280, and Gordon, Sellers, and long-gone Luis Cruz are far behind that. This team has either “amazing” or “atrocious” at shortstop. There just isn’t a middle-ground option there.

So now we wait for updates on Ramirez’ shoulder injury, and we try not to read Dylan Hernandez’ report that notes “high-ranking club officials said they were bracing themselves for the worst.” We know that Gordon didn’t play last night in Fresno for the Isotopes — Elian Herrera, Alex Castellanos, and Sellers all did — and we start to think about what the options might be here if and when Ramirez is unavailable for a third time.

Due to the configuration of the roster, a move is almost an absolute necessity unless Ramirez is magically going to be able to play in St. Louis. Other than Punto, there’s really not anyone on the active roster who’s even an option to play shortstop, and while I know that both Jerry Hairston & Uribe have past experience there, that was a long time ago. Besides, since Scott Van Slyke was optioned out for Stephen Fife yesterday, the team is already carrying 13 pitchers. That means that they really can’t handle having Ramirez eating up a roster spot for a few days while they try to get him healthy, because that many pitchers means that Don Mattingly has a short bench even if everyone can go.

So if you’re making a move internally, it has to be Gordon or Sellers, and the team appears to have selected Gordon based on the semi-scientific evidence of “he didn’t play last night”. He’s coming off a hot July for the Isotopes (.356/.455/.436, though let’s not ignore the .424 BABIP) while Sellers struggled (.229/.302/.386), so fine. This is a team that really doesn’t have much speed off the bench, so I don’t hate the idea of Gordon being available to run for Adrian Gonzalez or Andre Ethier or whomever in the late innings.

The only real issue there is that he wouldn’t just be a pinch-runner, he’d be needed at shortstop since Punto can’t go everyday, and there’s little indication that the defense has really improved from the mess we’ve seen. He’s got 17 errors in 65 games so far this year (though zero in 15 appearances at second base), and this scouting report from Baseball Hot Corner from just four days ago doesn’t really give you confidence:

Gordon’s defense was also shaky tonight, having committed a throwing error in the first inning which lead to the River Cats scoring their first run.  In the 4th inning, he ranged to his left for a grounder up the middle, going down to a slide to field the ball and ended up booted in into short right-center.  No error was given on the play, but if he would have drives glove first, he may have been able to field the ball cleanly and throw the batter out at first.  A tough play no doubt, but he could have fielded the ball better.  He did have one redeeming play in the bottom of the 8th inning when he made a nice play on a ball hit to the third/short gap.  Gordon chased it down in the gap and made a crisp throw to first to get the batter out.  But overall, his performance tonight was under-whelming.

For a team that’s succeeded lately really due much more to great pitching than people think, putting such a lousy defender at the most important defensive position doesn’t seem wonderful. (Yes, I see the irony here, because we said that about Ramirez as well; he did end up being better than expected. Which isn’t to say good, of course.)

Still, options are limited, and if it’s for a week or two or three, you probably suck it up and try to get by with Gordon and Punto. But if it’s more? If it turns out this is something serious that costs Ramirez a month or — lord help us — the remainder of the season? Gordon / Punto does not seem like a combo that you take into October, and that means we get into the scary territory of over-priced waiver deals for underperforming veterans like Jimmy Rollins or Alexei Ramirez or someone similar.

That’s getting ahead of ourselves, however, because we still don’t know what’s going to come of Ramirez’ injury. Hopefully, we’re talking about an absence of days, not weeks, though it sure didn’t look great when he came out of the stands doubled over in obvious pain. My guess? Gordon gets activated tonight, and either Ramirez goes to the disabled list or Carlos Marmol or Chris Withrow finds his way off the pitching staff. No matter what the details are, this team needs Ramirez to be okay. Even seeing how great things have gone over the last six weeks, I’m not sure they can win without him.

Braves 2, Dodgers 1: No One Will Remember That Stephen Fife Pitched Pretty Well

June 9, 2013 at 1:26 am | Posted in Dee Gordon, Stephen Fife, Yasiel Puig | Leave a comment

fife_2013-06-08Stephen Fife & Kris Medlen each went 6.2 innings today, except it took Medlen 116 pitches — 20 more than Fife — to get through them. That’s the good news for the Dodgers righty, who put up the longest outing of his young career. The bad news is that two of the 86 pitches he delivered, each in the fifth inning, ended up over the fence. That includes one to Medlen himself, the first of his career, and that sadly provided the margin in a 2-1 Atlanta win.

The problem, really, is that no one other than Yasiel Puig is doing much on offense. Andre Ethier has been decent enough covering in center, but he’s down to .229/.316/.348 after another oh-fer. Even Scott Van Slyke isn’t contributing anything when he isn’t hitting homers — his OBP is now at .300 — and don’t get me started on the continued existence of Luis Cruz. Hanley Ramirez drove in the only run pinch-hitting for Ethier, but Clayton Kershaw — of all people! — came in to run for him, which doesn’t really give me a lot of confidence in Don Mattingly‘s assertion that Ramirez is starting tomorrow. (Skip Schumaker did at least have three hits, all singles.)

Speaking of Mattingly, we once again ran into some bunting trouble down one in the ninth against Craig Kimbrel. Schumaker reached on a single, but then Tim Federowicz was asked to lay down the bunt, despite having Cruz and Mark Ellis (on an 0-16 skid) behind him. Federowicz failed the first time, failed the second time, and nearly failed a third time on a ball in the dirt; with the at-bat taken away from him, he was blown away by Kimbrel. Nevermind that Federowicz isn’t exactly the greatest hitter on the planet himself, what you’ve done is taken one of your three precious outs and said, “here, take one.”

To Mattingly’s credit, he did replace Cruz after Federowicz whiffed, but brought in Ramon Hernandez rather than Juan Uribe, sacrificing both some small amounts of OBP and speed. (The fact that we’re talking about Juan Uribe here is not lost on me.) Hernandez grounded out, Ellis struck out (make that 0-17) and Puig was left standing on deck, depriving Dodger Stadium — and the entire baseball world, really — of what would have been just a fantastic showdown.

As for everyone’s favorite superstar, Puig didn’t hit another homer, but he did contribute two hits. Let it never be said that the man is boring, because we saw the highs and lows of his game tonight.

In the fifth inning, Fife allowed an infield single to Andrelton Simmons after the Medlen homer. Jason Heyward singled, and when Simmons attempted to go to third… oh good lord, that is just not right. (Via SBN)

That is just… everything. It should replace the Mona Lisa. The best part is, Cruz didn’t even have to move his glove. The throw was right here, dead on, right on a line.

But in the eighth inning, we saw the … shall we say, “less refined” side of Puig. He topped an infield grounder to short, and had it easily beat out thanks to his outstanding speed. Unfortunately, he didn’t just do the easy thing and continue running, instead opting for this ugly mess:

Puig was seen clenching his right fist while in right field in the top of the ninth, and let’s all pray to whatever deity you support that this is nothing, because I am not sure this fanbase can handle it being something.

Also, Yasiel: NEVER EVER DO THAT AGAIN. Nunca vuelvas a hacer eso! You stay away from Nick Punto no matter what you do.

******

Of note in Albuquerque tonight, Dee Gordon played second base for the first time as a professional. It’s unclear if that’s a long-term move or not, though Ken Gurnick noted earlier today that the team is concerned about infield depth since Mark Ellis & Hanley Ramirez are both aching. Gurnick also said that for the first time, the club is “considering getting Gordon some outfield time,” which is mildly interesting to think about but probably not all that relevant. As I’ve long said, if Gordon can’t hit, then it doesn’t matter where he plays, and the last thing this organization needs is more outfielders right now anyway.

Dee Gordon Still Isn’t Ready For the Big Leagues

May 27, 2013 at 11:12 am | Posted in Dee Gordon, Justin Sellers | Leave a comment
"Look, someone who can hit better than me!"

“Look, someone who can hit better than me!”

The Seattle Mariners DFA’d shortstop Robert Andino a few days ago, and if you’re wondering why you should care about that in the least… oh.

gordon_sellers_woba

Whether it’s been Dee Gordon or Justin Sellers, shortstop has been an absolute disaster for the Dodgers this year. It’s been so bad that they’re the two worst hitters at the position in baseball who haven’t been cut loose, now that the Mariners have moved to sever ties with Andino.

That was never the plan, of course, but it’s interesting to look at the decision process that’s gone into using either at various times and the perception fans have of them.

Headed into the season, the Dodgers had a pretty clear-cut plan on the left side of the infield. Hanley Ramirez would play shortstop, Luis Cruz would play third, and Gordon would return to the minors after a 2012 split between being awful and being injured. There were a whole lot of reasons to think that neither Ramirez or Cruz were likely to succeed at those spots, but there was little reason to think that Gordon belonged anywhere but in Albuquerque.

92topps_justinsellersWhen Ramirez injured himself on March 19 in the final game of the World Baseball Classic, the Dodgers didn’t deviate from that plan. Despite some initial thought that Cruz might move to shortstop and allow third to be manned by a combination of Jerry Hairston, Nick Punto, & Juan Uribe, they quickly decided to keep Cruz at third and hand shortstop to the defensively capable Sellers, rather than give Gordon another chance.

We expected little offense from Sellers and that’s exactly what we received, as you can see in the line above. He had one really awful inning in the field, though he was generally adequate otherwise. That said, the lousy offensive production on a team full of the same meant that I was constantly having to explain why replacing him with Gordon was a silly idea. “Sellers is atrocious, so it couldn’t be worse!” went the argument. Well, sure it could; Gordon was no guarantee to be any better on offense and was very likely to be worse on defense. We’ll get back to that in a second.

Ramirez returned ahead of schedule on April 29, and Sellers was immediately nailed to the bench. That gave us time to argue about the wisdom of an untrue report that Gordon might be moving to second base, but it all ended up being for nothing as Ramirez injured himself again on May 3, after playing just four games.

But this time, the team went in a different direction. Instead of simply moving Sellers back to the starting role, the team instead recalled Gordon, apparently intrigued by a solid .314/.397/.431 line in Triple-A. (Sellers was optioned back to the minors days later.) It was a more defensible move at the time, since Gordon had at least had a full month of decent play behind him in the minors this time around, and with the team struggling on all fronts, more of Sellers was an option few found appealing.

At first, it seemed like a great idea. Gordon got on base five times in his first two games while stealing three bases, though the Dodgers lost both games and in fact dropped each of his first six starts. But while many liked to point to a batting average of .429 after two games as an indication Gordon should have been up all along, it quickly became clear that little had changed. And now, as Gordon has had just about as many plate appearances as Sellers had, the question of “could it be worse?” is… well, yes.

Think about it this way: on offense, the contributions have been nearly equally poor, as the close-to-identical wOBA marks show. Yes, Gordon’s speed on the bases is obviously superior, but he’s given some of that value back with poor decisions, and his net stolen base total is merely three.

But on defense, even though Sellers hasn’t really been wonderful (0 Defensive Runs Saved, -5.1 UZR/150), Gordon has been worse (-2 DRS, -9.3 UZR/150). I’m aware of the risks of using defensive stats over a month of play, and so that’s why these are not to be taken as gospel, but as a data point that backs up what we’ve seen with our own eyes. Yes, Gordon’s gotten to some balls that Sellers never would have; he’s also botched more than a few that haven’t been marked down as errors. Neither has added much on offense, especially as Gordon just went more than a week without a hit, and Gordon has given back more on defense.

There are some arguments to be made in Gordon’s favor, of course. Obviously, his upside is far higher than that of Sellers’, which makes you want to invest more into his future, and he does have a poor .219 BABIP, which indicates some amount of bad luck. But in this case, his batted ball profile makes his BABIP seem like less of a quirk and more of a choice:

gordon_gb_lb_fb

Gordon’s groundball rate has plummeted as he’s hit more balls in the air and as line drives. Liners are good, but a player like Gordon simply shouldn’t be hitting the ball in the air like this; he’s not strong enough to muscle the ball out of the park, and he’s not hitting the ball on the ground enough to take advantage of his breathtaking speed.

gordon_ifh_buhThat’s shown again in his declining rates of infield hits and bunt hits, as shown at right. Again, small samples are at play here, but if Gordon is going to be successful it’s going to have to come with his legs, and so far he’s not doing that.

Gordon has now played 162 major league games with 636 plate appearances, or essentially one full season. In that time he’s hit .250/.296/.312, enough for a .270 wOBA and -1.1 WAR, and he’s provided poor defense to go with it. Despite how exciting he can be at times, he’s not ready, he wasn’t ready before, and while I’m not close to being ready to “give up on him,” in my opinion he’s further away than ever from being a reliable major league shortstop.

So what’s to be done? Don Mattingly has already begun to play Gordon less, sitting him in favor of Punto three times in the last seven games, but Punto isn’t really the solution there either. There’s a small possibility that Gordon gets optioned when Hairston is activated later today, but it seems far more likely that a move is made with Cruz, whether that’s a DFA or a disabled list trip.

Assuming that’s the case, then Gordon remains, and we may be a week to ten days away from seeing Ramirez return. (Or more than that. His return date remains unclear.) There’s a case to be made to give Sellers that time, if only for the defense, but I honestly can’t say I feel all that strongly about doing so. If anything, the recent trend of giving Punto time at short might be the best solution — especially as he’s needed less at second and third with Mark Ellis & Hairston back — until Ramirez is ready.

I can’t believe I’m even saying that, because Nick Punto. But while the season isn’t quite hopeless yet, I’ll admit it’s getting close to getting there, and the less time they can give to shortstops who aren’t major-league caliber right now, the better.

Come back soon, Hanley. We miss you, even with all your warts.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: