Tonight, the Dodgers begin a four game series against the Phillies, and they didn’t wait for the game to start to start making news. Jose Dominguez was called up to give assistance to a weary relief staff. In a corresponding move, Chone Figgins was optioned to Albuquerque. Eric Stephen notes that Figgins had two options left but had to approve being sent to the minors. This type of approval is relatively rare for veterans on the 40-man roster, so I suppose that he’s happy in the Dodgers organization thus far.
The move brings the bullpen up to eight pitchers, which usually isn’t great. Even so, the Dodgers weren’t really using Figgins, who has nine plate appearance and has only played two thirds of an inning on defense. The Dodgers are in the middle of a stretch where they play 29 games in 30 days, so the bullpen could use the extra help. Dominguez will probably swapped with Paco Rodriguez (who can’t be called up until the 25th unless somebody gets injured) later in this stretch.
I didn’t think we’d need to talk about Miguel Olivo again until his opt-out date, but he’s currently hitting well in Albuquerque, which prompted this tweet:
miguel olivo’s 4 for 5 moved him to .417 (w/ power) for albuquerque. dodgers catchers have 6 hits all year.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) April 21, 2014
It’s true that the Dodgers catchers have been really bad. But there’s issues with this beyond the number of hits being wrong. We should all know the danger of citing raw Albuquerque statistics by now, and even after adjusting for environment Olivo is putting up ridiculously unsustainable numbers. He currently has a .533 BABIP and a 50% HR/FB rate, both of which are crazy even for the PCL. Even if Olivo stays in Albuquerque, those numbers will regress in a big way.
Los Angeles, CA
The current catching tandem of Tim Federowicz and Drew Butera has been awful. But Olivo’s major league offense leaves a lot to be desired. He has a .241 OBP since the start of the 2012 season. He’s also a poor defender and pitch framer. Federowicz’ offense will regress (at least a little bit) in the positive direction with time. He is asolutely a better option than Olivo. Since Butera’s offense is so putrid, a case could probably be made that Olivo is on par with him (though I still would disagree with “better”), but the replacement isn’t worth it. Such a move would remove Butera from the organization, further thinning the catcher position, and would impact the catchers’ rapport with the pitching staff.
As the Dodgers start their series with the Phillies, it’s worth pointing out that they haven’t been as terrible as expected. Their success has been led mostly by Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. Utley already has 1.5 fWAR (second in baseball behind Mike Trout, because of course) and is currently hitting .406/451/.672. Jimmy Rollins is also in the top ten in position player fWAR, but his offensive slash line is a more normal .292/.370/.492. Every position player on the Phillies not named Utley or Rollins has combined for a -1.2 fWAR.
Cliff Lee is pitching tonight for the Phillies and he’s had a really weird season so far. In his first start of the year, Lee allowed 8 runs in five innings while only striking out one batter. In last start, he threw a complete game and struck out 13 batters, but allowed 11 hits in the process. He has a big FIP-ERA gap, which will probably resolve itself into being the regular Cliff Lee once his BABIP drops below .432. Against Lee is Paul Maholm, who will be looking to improve upon his terrible 2.84 K/9. Despite the uneven pitching match-up, Fangraphs’ new pre-game odds feature thinks that this game is more or less a coin flip.
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