Mailbag #20: Zach Lee, Alex Guerrero, Stats Brainwashing, Corey Seager … Now?

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Powder Hound: Many Dodger prospect lists are down on Zach Lee. At the same time, he is on the 40-man roster, is going to be a starter, and is few injuries from being called on. What are the positive and warning signs you would look for from him in spring training and early season?

Dodgers @
Cubs
Mesa, Ariz.
SS
Rollins
RF
Heisey
CF
Puig
C
Grandal
2B
Kendrick
1B
Van Slyke
DH
Turner
LF
Pederson
3B
Hernandez
P
Greinke

I’d watch his pure stuff, because it’s the reason he’s been falling for me.

I was down on Zach Lee for the last couple years because it became apparent that the projection wasn’t coming to fruition. Worse yet, he’s been bleeding some fastball velocity and has lost sharpness on his slider, which is bad news since the concern was always that he lacked an out pitch. The 2014 stat line wouldn’t have been as big a deal if I hadn’t watched the games and seen that he looked like a guy with fringe-average MLB starter stuff.

2015 is an important year for Lee, and I absolutely still think he can be an MLB starter, but to show he’s more of a mid-rotation candidate, it’d be nice if he would pitch higher than 89-91 mph range and regain the sharpness on his slider.

John: What is the hold up in adding Corey Seager to the Dodgers major league team and keeping him on the team during the coming season? What more can he prove in the minors? Seems to me he is ready.

There’s not many holes left in his game, true. However, gaining experience, refining his plate discipline, and continuing to improve defensively are gonna be primary goals in AAA.

Seager is still young and he’s not an immediate need for the team, so there’s no harm in plopping him in AAA in a far more neutral hitting environment than years past to see if he can earn his promotion.

Bobby Dubz: Is Alex Guerrero dead or am I missing something? The dude absolutely raked in AAA, got little to no shot in September, and we still have $20+ million invested in the guy over the next 3 years … when will he get a chance and where? I can see him being useful with pop at 2B/3B.

Well, the fact that you’re asking where Alex Guerrero will play sort of answers your question. As does the fact that the Dodgers were trying Guerrero in left field because they have questions about whether he can play second or third.

I think Guerrero has enough pop in his bat, but there’s actually swing-and-miss issues and plate discipline issues that give enough pause with the bat that his defensive question marks will prevent him from getting extended looks. Also, getting his ear bitten off while he was busy trying to improve defensively at second certainly didn’t help his progress.

You could make the case that Guerrero just needs to be thrown into the fire to see what he is, but when could the Dodgers realistically do that? Certainly not to start the season or down the stretch, so a chance with the Dodgers will likely only come if major injuries occur.

Realistically, his best shot at regular playing time will come with another team, but his contract is structured such that it makes no sense for a team to trade for him. Thems the breaks.

Kent: What do you think the odds are that the team just cuts Guerrero to free up his roster spot? He has two more years left, but it seems pointless to keep a no-glove, all-bat (maybe?) bench guy when you have Barney, Turner, Heisey, etc.

Ah, the opposite end of the spectrum.

I think this only becomes an option if the Dodgers end up signing Hector Olivera, and even then, Olivera probably starts the year in AAA for a bit. Plus, that would be an awful lot of dead money to eat for a guy who they seem to think at least can hit.

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Tom: Despite what people think, the Dodgers have addressed the bullpen issues. Paying for bullpen value is almost always a poor use of money, and management seems to agree, so they added nice pieces here and there while dumping Brian Wilson. They also seem to understand that bullpen performance can be quite finicky year to year. So big changes probably aren’t necessary, despite how the year ended. With all that said, Mike Adams is a (former) big name dude that can bring bullpen value, and he’s still out there. If the Dodgers are done adding (somewhat) costly bullpen help, that’s fine. But isn’t there a fit here?

For starters, solid intro rant that I agree with, and also kudos to calling this before it actually happened.

To answer the question, assuming Mike Adams will come cheap (he did), he does seem like a decent depth option who could hover around the mid-3 ERA range. Of course, the issue is that he’s pitched 43.2 innings over the last two years, and last year the time he missed was due to a rotator cuff injury. Plus, he’s entering his age-36 season in 2015.

The upside is that his velocity was fine after his extended stint on the DL, so the team could do a lot worse than a minor-league deal with Adams.

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HKJones: This used to be a really good blog. But you guys have gotten so lulled into the sabermetric perspective that you seem to have lost your capacity to see Friedman with any critical objectivity. Mike’s post on trips to the DL for starting pitchers being insignificant is the most blatant example. It’s ludicrous.

“Lulled” by what, exactly? Like there are sabermetric sirens calling to us from the USS Dodgers Digest or something? Like Voros McCracken, Bill James, and Rob Neyer in bikinis are beckoning to us to crash this blog into the rocks?

Seriously though, Mike and I have been writing about the Dodgers from a stats perspective for like close to a decade now, Brim obviously is a stats guy, and so is Dustin even though he focuses a lot on scouting, so I’m not sure what exactly you would expect while reading this site.

I’m also not sure why that DL article would be the major offender. It’s not exactly a revolutionary thought (no offense, Mike) that if you get 125-150 quality innings and then have depth behind that to get above replacement-level performance, you end up coming out ahead of having a mediocre innings-eater. In extreme terms, do you want Clayton Kershaw for 150 innings or Jason Vargas for 200?

Is that even a sabermetric thought process or is that just a baseball opinion you didn’t agree with? Why is it even a surprise to anybody that four people who write from a sabermetric perspective agree more with moves made by an Andrew Friedman-led front office than a Ned Colletti-led front office? If you disagree with something specific, then say so, but don’t start whining about the perspective we’re coming from NOW when we’ve been coming from the same place forever.

Bill Plaschke columns are right around the corner and Steve Dilbeck has a daily blog, my man. And I’m sure somewhere out there T.J. Simers is trolling nerds at a Little League game and writing Marcus Thames shitty e-mails. Lots of options.

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Noel: If everyone on the Dodgers 40-man roster was tossed into a pit in Northern California — let’s call it AT&T Park — to fight to the death, who would emerge victorious?

The easy answer would be Yasiel Puig, right?

But I imagine Zack Greinke and his serial killer stare wins. Greinke will lie in wait for Puig to demolish everybody, and just when Puig thinks he’s won and starts taking selfies and posting Instagram videos, Greinke appears and shanks him from behind.

ZackGreinkeIsWatching

Well, let’s see…

…me.

Especially because I know not to publish mailbags from the ‘Drafts’ section and instead run them from ‘Pending’.

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About Chad Moriyama

Chad Moriyama
"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times