Mailbag #17: Billingsley, Right-Handed Power, Third Base, Mattingly As Furniture

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Eric: Any chance of (or logic behind) resigning – at league min, or a non roster invite to billingsly to see what, if anything, he has left? At one point he seemed to have a great deal of talent/potential.

We’ll start here, because I’ve received this or something similar a few times in the mailbag, comments, or on Twitter. My (possibily unpopular) opinion on Chad Billingsley is this: it’s time to move on. Between 2007-12, Billingsley was a solidly underrated mid-rotation starter, capable of very good years (2008, 2010) and frustrating inconsistency (2011). Constantly the target of fury from the bulk of the Dodger fanbase, in large part because he’d constantly put up a .500 W-L record, I always felt that Billingsley’s biggest crime was simply “not being Clayton Kershaw.”

As far as Dodger players go, yeah, he’s been one of my favorites. But the sad truth is that it’s been four full seasons since he was both healthy and good, back to 2010. (I’m cheating a little there, because he was effective in 2012, but the end of that season is when his arm trouble began.) Of course, he made only two starts in 2013, and never made it back in 2014, and now he’s a free agent, no longer part of a Dodger franchise now run by people who have never actually employed him.

I know we all like the guys we like, but if this particular injury-prone pitcher had spent previous years with the Mets or Orioles or Mariners, I’m guessing no one here would care about him at all. Toss him a non-roster invite? Sure. There’s no downside to that. But that’s the same for literally every single team in baseball, and there may be other situations where he feels he can get a clearer path to playing time. Maybe he wants to reunite with his old agent, Dave Stewart, in Arizona. Maybe he wants to go home to Ohio. Maybe he just wants a fresh start. Maybe his arm is just shot. Simply “being a former Dodger” isn’t enough to make a deal happen.

Karl: Hey guys, love the blog, it quickly became my number one source for dodger information, and I wish my other favorite sports teams had an equally good blog about them. I was just wondering if when all the year in reviews are done if you guys could make an easy way to access them all. Just adding them into the categories would be great so I can go back and read ones I missed in real time. Again thanks for honestly one of the best sports sites out there, you guys do great work!

I/we have been doing season reviews for years, and every year when the time rolls around, I ask myself if it’s even worth the bother, because they honestly do get pretty tedious to write after a while. “Oh, good, time to say something about Jamie Romak.” And every year, when there’s huge downtime between the end of the Dodger season and the end of the playoffs, and the week or two after Christmas, I’m ever so happy that we have easily banked content to publish just to have something fresh.

All of which is to say: This exists! “2014 Revews” are a category, accessible right here.

Scottyc35: what about ethier to baltimore for ubaldo jiminez? no other cash or players involved. Baltimore gets an everyday player and sheds a terrible contract. Honeycutt, the spacious home park, and a new improved defense = a reclamation project . hecould be a great 5th starter, no?

This actually came in after the Brett Anderson deal was reported (though before it was finalized), and I think it would have made more sense beforehand. The Dodgers seem to have their starting rotation set now, and while I see the logic in wanting Anderson as a swingman, it’s not apparently the direction they’re headed in.

Besides, I can’t be hypocritical here. Me, back in October:

There’s a question in the mailbag — I swear we’ll do another soon — about whether the Dodgers should try to do a ‘bad contract swap’ of Andre Ethier for Baltimore’s Ubaldo Jimenez, who disappointed in the first year of his 4/$50m contract, putting up a 4.81 ERA/4.67 FIP and being left off the ALCS roster. (Though I can’t find the link at the moment, he reportedly declined to stay with the team during the ALCS, choosing instead to simply go home.) Jimenez has occasionally been one of the best pitchers in baseball, but twice in the last three seasons, he’s been one of the worst pitchers in baseball. On the surface, maybe that makes sense.

And yet, the answer seems easy: Baltimore wouldn’t even consider it, because Ethier was that bad this year.

…and I still believe that to be true. The O’s may yet end up with Ethier, as it was reported over the weekend that they’ve had talks. I just don’t see it happening for Jimenez. If it does, it’d likely be for some salary relief and low-level minor leaguers.

Grant: People have been complaining that by trading away Matt Kemp, the Dodgers now lack consistent right handed hitting power. I’d retort by point out Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick have some pop in their bat, and that while streaky, Yasiel Puig has some serious power. But is it fair to say that the Dodgers no longer have serious and consistent right handed power hitting?

Ah, the good old buzzword of the offseason, “right-handed power.”

As I’ve generally said: “right-handed power” isn’t a requirement towards winning. It’s come up so often lately that I’m wondering if people think that you literally cannot win a baseball game without “right-handed power,” as though it’s as important as “get 27 outs” or “outscore the opponent.” What matters is production, not power. Power is one way to get to production, of course, but as the Royals and Giants just showed, there’s many ways to get there.

Obviously, you don’t want a lineup to lean too hard to one side, and so your point is accurate, in that you can’t complain about losing Kemp and Hanley without pointing out that newcomers Kendrick, Rollins and Yasmani Grandal all hit (at least partially) from the right side, and Scott Van Slyke was outstanding in that department last year. And all of this “right-handed power” talk ignores the huge improvement in defense that all of this movement has brought. I’m not sure if the 2015 Dodgers will be a better team than the 2014 Dodgers. I am sure that if they aren’t, it won’t be because of “right-handed power.”

BB: any guesses as to who will man 3rd base for the Dodgers come 2016 and beyond?could we trade for Evan longoria?

None! I’m pleased with the infield for 2015, but it’s a huge question mark all around for 2016, with only Adrian Gonzalez seeming to be a lock. Kendrick and Rollins will both be free agents, though it seems to be possible they could attempt to extend Kendrick, and we all hope that Corey Seager is playing short in 2016 — though that’s yet far from certain.

As for third, I think we can say for sure that it won’t be Juan Uribe or Justin Turner, and it’s not going to be Evan Longoria, either. I mean, probably; who knows what could happen in a year. Longoria is coming off something of a down year for the Rays, but he’s still a star, and he’s still reasonably signed with Tampa through 2022 — and since he’s entering his age-29 season, that’s basically the remainder of his productive career. The Rays would have to be massively blown away to move him, and if they aren’t, it means he didn’t have a good 2015, which is a different problem entirely.

Who will be playing third for the Dodgers in 2016? Unless Seager is unexpectedly shifted over, it’s someone from outside the organization, though I admit I don’t know who yet. The 3B free agent list for that offseason is barrenDavid Freese or 37-year-old Adrian Beltre may be the best bets — and so I’m guessing it’s someone we haven’t even considered yet. You can’t plan ahead at every position, I suppose. Or maybe it will be Yoan Moncada!

Chuck: Crappy couch, used wrong players, wrong batting order,st Louis game,got 6 good innings from Kershaw, why not bring in harem. He was pitching kites out. Why not j.Turner in for Gordon all he was batting .325 4

If there’s one thing I agree with here, it’s that Don Mattingly is indeed a crappy couch. I don’t think I’d want to sit on him, nor would he want me to. He’s not plush or made of leather or a comfortable fabric. Were I to throw a blanket over him, he might get upset. Mattingly is many things, but indisputably, yes, he is a poor choice of home furniture.

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.