Reversing the strikeout trend Reversing the strikeout trend

Uncertainty Reigns For Dodgers at Second Base

gordon_2014-03-08

Dee Gordon reached base three times last night against Seattle, and the first two were pretty much the most Gordon successes ever. In the first inning, he hit a chopper to the left side and beat the throw. After striking out in the second, he tapped back to the pitcher in his next plate appearance, reaching base partially because of his speed, and partially because Logan Kensing did, well, this. In the seventh, he got on for a third time, stroking a hard-hit single to right field off of Andrew Carraway. He added two stolen bases — that’s seven-for-seven this spring — scored once, and was thrown out (probably) on a very close play at the plate when he tried to tag on a sacrifice fly.

Giants
Dodgers 
1:05pm PT
Glendale, Ariz.
CF
Pagan
CF
Figgins
LF
Perez
C
Ellis
1B
Belt
RF
Puig
C
Posey
1B
Gonzalez
3B
Sandoval
3B
Turner
SS
Arias
LF
Baxter
2B
Hicks
2B
Guerrero
RF
Graham
SS
Rojas
P
Escobar
P
Kershaw

All in all, it was a very good night for Gordon, the kind he needs to prove, finally, that he can be a major leaguer, and so far this spring his defensive transition from shortstop to second base has gone well. At this point, it’s easy to see him as the leader for the second base job over Alexander Guerrero, and I can live with that if it happens. While it will be portrayed as a huge disaster — one of the game’s worst players over the last three years beats out $28 million Cuban import! — I’ve said a few times that I have no problem if Guerrero spends a few weeks in the minors, since acclimating to a new country, culture, and position isn’t easy. Yasiel Puig didn’t start out in the big leagues last year; no Dodger position player ever has.

That said, I’m still wondering a little bit about the usage of the two here. Ken Gurnick noted that “Guerrero has started only two of the last seven games at the position, so he is essentially ruled out,” and on the surface, that looks bad. Then again, “starts” matter little in spring training, and between DH appearances and late-game insertions, Guerrero’s 24 plate appearances are only one fewer than Gordon’s, and are tied with Mike Baxter for third-most on the team, behind Gordon and Chone Figgins. Gordon has made it into 11 of the team’s 12 games; Guerrero, 10.

So despite the starts disparity — and Guerrero is back in there at second today, which Gordon scheduled to replace him — it’s been pretty even. That’s fine, I guess, but if the question is more about his defense than his offense, then I’d like to see him getting more time than Gordon at second, not similar. In February, Don Mattingly said “that’s the objective, to get him on the field as much as possible.” I certainly wouldn’t mind fewer games at DH and at the bottom of the order to reach that goal.

So far, the duo have performed similarly at the plate, though of course no one’s scouting a spring stat line. If you could, Gordon’s .379/.446/.485 2012 line or his identical 7/0 SB/CS in 2013 would have led to a lot more success, and to further illustrate that point, the list of pitchers who either have had hits off of hardly constitute an All-Star team:

Gordon (5)Blake Beavan, Carraway, Kevin Shackelford (bunt), Kevin Quackenbush, A.J. Griffin

Guerrero (6) — Beavan, Jeff Francis (grand slam), Brent Leach, Leonel Campos, Eury De La Rosa, RJ Hively

No matter how this turns out, the roster for the Australia games isn’t going to be the same as the roster on April 15 or May 15 or August 15. I think we always put a little too much emphasis on the Opening Day roster, as though that’s set in stone. And while I still don’t have a lot of faith that Gordon can hit in the big leagues, I have been impressed by his defense at second base, enough to think that maybe he can be useful as a bench player. But really, my feelings haven’t changed: as I said at the time, I really wish the Dodgers had picked up Mark Ellis‘ option, just in case.

***

dodger_magazineAnd, I meant to mention this other day, Dodger Insider — the new official Dodgers magazine — has officially launched, and is available for purchase now. I’m pimping it here partially because it’s mainly driven by your friend and mine, former Dodger Thoughts kingpin Jon Weisman, but also because it’s a new team publication, and a very visually appealing one at that.

It’s to come out monthly, and while the debut issue is over 70 pages, April’s is to be over 100. And May’s? Well, you just might see a name you recognize pop up in May’s issue. (Yasiel Puig, probably.)


About

Mike wrote daily for over six long years (2007-13) about the Dodgers at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness, which was named 2011′s “Best Sports Blog” by LA Weekly. He can currently be found writing multiple times per week at FanGraphs and ESPN, has been a producer and editor for Sports on Earth, and built The Hardball Times. He lives in New York City and will probably be asleep or on vacation when awesome things happen.


852 comments
InsideThePark
InsideThePark

The issue with Guerrero is that in the times I've seen him, I'm just not left impressed. There was a hard hit ground ball toward second base that I've seen good second baseman eat up but he let it get by him. He hasn't blown anyone away with his bat.

The one comfort is that between him and Puig, they make 70 million. Puig alone could be a 70 million player. So there's that.

It's hard to imagine Dee Gordon+Guerrero could be better than another year of Mark Ellis+Guerrero.

Hopefully Guerrero will be serviceable.

efb
efb

this place is pretty quiet this morning

KMT59
KMT59

off to the VA...may be back by the 4th inning

efb
efb

morning

Jeremy_N
Jeremy_N

another f'ing snow storm on the way. so pissed.

Lobo
Lobo

So here's something, did you know that since 2008, Evan Longoria has the highest WAR among position players (second overall to Verlander)?

Hoze
Hoze

I should be asleep by now, but again I get distracted. So here's a future'd roster..possibly :)

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

FYI, the fault off the coast of California is not at risk for major tsunamis. This is because the San Andreas Fault along the California border moves left and right, and not up and down. This changes up near Washington State, and is especially obvious along the west portion of the Pacific Ocean (since those plates are constantly pushing against each other).

NoHitWin2008
NoHitWin2008

@Hoze (aka the roster maestro) A bench of Crawfor/Ethier + Turner + SVS + TFed + new and improved Dee would be pretty freakin' great. Of course that assumes a lot of things...namely that Alex Guerrero takes over 2B. And Dee actually proved to be "new and improved". And that all four OF'ers are healthy at the same time...and we don;t trade one in that unlikely event. 

We'd have speed, a power righty, a very good lefty with either some speed dynamics (CC) or some decent power (Dre), and some good infield versatility (Turner played in 68 games last year, with a pretty damn even distribution between all four IF positions). 

So maybe...just maybe...

nudibranch
nudibranch

Turner's ST OPS thus far is 1.005, which is the highest mark among Dodgers batters with at least 10 PA's.  Of course, I would report his wOBA rather than his OPS if it were available.  Based on ST and past seasons' data, I strongly favor Turner over Figgins to serve as backup at 2B, 3B, and SS.  Figgins should start the season with the Topes IMO.

steelmohawk
steelmohawk

So we are going to start off the season with the possibility of watching Dee Gordon self-destruct

DBrim
DBrim moderator

I did know that. Longoria is quietly amazing. His contract is such a ridiculous steal for the Rays.

Lobo
Lobo

Aside from his injury shortened 2012, Longoria has never put up less than 5.5 WAR, and outside of his rookie season he's never had a WAR below 6 (again excluding 2012).

Lobo
Lobo

Blech, 8 man bullpen

KMT59
KMT59

@Purple Drank  look at drank!!! This is the stuff I had to know for my meteorology /oceanography job

Hoze
Hoze

@NoHitWin2008 @Hoze  So many IFs leading up to Opening Day...but relatively speaking we have very little to worry about outside of the health issues which seem to be generating nothing but good news of late. I like the bench, and as long as theyre not needed to be regulars like last year then the team should be ok. 

If the team can confide in Maholm (he's doing great so far) and their younger staff in the bullpen, then I hope they also take initiative to part with Beckett and League (or find a team willing to take them for nearly nothing).. 

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

@nudibranch  this entire thread is an overreaction to SSS.

Not to worry, though. Turner and Figgins are both making the club.

Hoze
Hoze

@nudibranch  Rosin has been really great also. So Im rooting for this roster to happen at some point in the season. Id actually prefer there to be another bench player instead of the 8th man, but I cant see Beckett going anywhere, given his contract and the fact the he's somewhat of an asset in the team's eyes because of their affinity to have SP depth 

Hoze
Hoze

@nudibranch For whatever its worth, Turner's has been doing well in the limited amount of time given. He's only made one error in the 15 attempts he's had on the IF, if that means anything also. I like the guy, and he's even projected to more valuable than Punto this year (0.6 to 0.0 WAR). 

nudibranch
nudibranch

I'm assuming here that Dee Gordon will be the opening day starter at 2B, along with Hanley at SS and Uribe at 3B.

Dave! (Or Justin Turner, Maybe)
Dave! (Or Justin Turner, Maybe)

@steelmohawk We are going to start off the season with the possibility of watching Dee Gordon finally reach his potential as a top notch lead-off man, getting on base and wreaking havoc on the basepaths, while playing dynamic, exciting, game changing defense with his incredible range, athleticism, and powerful arm.

Lobo
Lobo

@TellMyWifeISaidHello At Trout's current pace, it would still take 2 years for him to pass Longoria.  Longo has 36.1 fWAR for his career, Trout is at 21

Lobo
Lobo

@DBrim No doubt.  Huge part of why they're so good

TellMyWifeISaidHello
TellMyWifeISaidHello

I don't get the point of dumping Beckett for Mahlom when they are at worst doing about the same overall right now. Beckett has been healthier and looked great his first outing. Mahlom had a better number 2 outing

NoHitWin2008
NoHitWin2008

@Hoze @NoHitWin2008  Yup, it's really all about health for us. 

I know it's not a huge leap to say this, but I think it'll probably take 'til about the trade deadline before we have our best 25 man roster (again, assuming health, which is a big assumption with this team). 

There's the possibility of Bills pushing the weak link off the staff, Guerrero taking over 2B and thereby relegating someone back to a more appropriate bench spot, the chance for all four OF'ers to be healthy (again solidifying the bench), and of course any midseason acquisitions will have occurred by that point. 

It's gonna be really, really interesting to see how it all shakes out...the OD roster is gonna seem like a distant memory come August 1st. 

Moderately Excited Towel
Moderately Excited Towel

@Hoze @nudibranch  this roster would make me happy, though it wouldn't bother me if Rosin was abandoned and Rojas or Figgins made the roster as utility infielder... until Guerrero gets called up.

ABSmileBunch
ABSmileBunch

@Lobo @TellMyWifeISaidHelloIf Trout keeps up, after his first 6 years in the league (even 5 if we want to be fair about playing time, w/ Longoria's injury season), he'll have 50-60 WAR though.

Hoze
Hoze

@Professor Towel @Hoze @nudibranch  he might just be, but I hope it doesnt go that way, and he pitches his way into the roster..  His age, and the fact that he has NO injury history, should be enough reason to entrust the last and lowest impact bullpen spot to him rather than League or Beckett. And even freeing up two roster spots helps Dominguez and Withrow contribute to the team at some point this year, or Figgins.  

Hoze
Hoze

@nudibranch @Hoze  its a projection for upcoming season. He was a 0.2 WAR player last year according to PECOTA. Turner was 0.4 WAR