Looking back to see if Dodgers Digest had any photos of all the players I am planning to eventually include, I stumbled across
Dustin’s DANIEL’S own version of these from back in 2014.
I really enjoyed
Dustin’s DANIEL’s line of “The 2005 team was nearly unwatchable, so I responded by… not watching.” Meanwhile, I have been attempting to include every player I possibly can from that team in this series. Below will be another entry in the recap of just how awful third base was in 2005.
Additionally, it gave me the idea for the other player on today’s list. The names on the 2000 and 2001 teams have really stuck with me. That’s around the time I began to really understand baseball, and sports overall, past knowing the names of the real standout players (Mike Piazza, pretty much). And for some reason, I vividly remember the name…
The best place to start is why Reboulet ever played for the Dodgers.
Signing the shortstop in February 2001 as he entered his age-37 (!!!) season is absolutely an odd decision when looking back on it. In 2000, Alex Cora* and 35-year-old Kevin Elster mostly split the shortstop position, which finished the year with 646 PAs, nearly 40 less than any other position in the field.
Coming off a replacement-level performance in 66 games for the Royals, Reboulet ended 2001 with his most PAs (253) since 1997 with the Orioles.
Looking at Triple-A Las Vegas, the Dodgers truly didn’t have a better option to give some at-bats. While Reboulet’s age-37 season in the majors is crazy, Las Vegas primarily used 30-year-olds Keith Johnson, Jeff Branson or Shawn Gilbert at the position.
And it probably went better than expected, with Reboulet slashing .266/.367/.397/.764 with a 109 wRC+, the best offensive season of his career. Of course, the lowest defensive rating of his career kept his WAR at 0.3 with the Dodgers clearly in need of a replacement.
Former first-round pick Felipe Lopez being given the shortstop job in Toronto allowed the Dodgers to find a replacement in the form of Cesar Izturis after suffering through one year of Reboulet holding the job with Cora*. I’ve already covered that deal for Izturis a bit in this series, but it makes a bit more sense as to why the Dodgers were fine with Izturis’ well below league-average offense for the next few years.
Just a day before Opening Day in 2004, the Dodgers completed three trades to rework their roster. Franklin Gutierrez and later Andrew Brown were sent to Cleveland for Milton Bradley, Jolbert Cabrera was traded to Seattle for a few minor leaguers, and Jason Romano (one of the many Jasons) was sent to Tampa Bay for Perez.
With Izturis, Cora*, Adrian Beltre and Jose Hernandez taking up most of the time at second, short and third, Perez spent nearly all of 2004 in Triple-A Las Vegas slashing 296/.379/.511/.890 with 22 homers and 88 RBIs. The performance gave the Dodgers confidence in moving the 25-year-old Perez to a larger role in the majors in 2005. Of his 287 PAs, 137 came at the disaster that was third base, with the others split between shortstop and second behind the newly signed Jeff Kent. Perez nearly led the seven-way split, beaten out by Oscar Robles’ 143 PAs, despite Perez’s .303/.375/.434/.809 vastly outperforming both Robles and Mike Edwards (134 PAs).
The position remained a mess in 2006 while the Dodgers figured out a few others in the infield, but Perez didn’t have the chance to take over the job. He and Bradley were sent off to Oakland in exchange for Andre Ethier, with Ned Colletti completing the deal as one of his first major moves and Perez finishing his set of inclusions in notable trades. Soon after, the Dodgers signed Bill Mueller, Rafael Furcal, Nomar Garciaparra and Kenny Lofton.
As third base remained a disaster for nearly a decade (though Casey Blake did have a pretty good 2009), Perez’s short stint with the Dodgers was reasonably successful and yielded one of the better players in Los Angeles history in Ethier.
*Denotes those who played for the Dodgers at one time and later revealed themselves to be fucking cheaters.