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.