Mailbag #8: Recall Seager, DFA Ethier, Trade Gordon, Acquire Cain, Vin Still The Best

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Wayne: “I’m mystified as to why Coletti doesn’t bring up one of the highly touted prospects ie. Seager to fill in for one of our veteran players when they go to the disabled list, even if it’s for a few weeks. If they play them every day then they would still see lots of pitches and experience major league pitching. Instead we end up with subs who have kicked around in the minors for years and end up killing our rallies at crucial times. I’ve been told that it has something to do with salary arbitration and the amount of money they pay the prospects when he’s finally reach the Dodgers. Please explain.”

Well, there’s two reasons. One, as hard as it might be to accept, there’s hardly a guarantee that Corey Seager is going to play better than Carlos Triunfel right now. It’s ludicrous, I know, because Seager is clearly more talented, but he also just turned 20 in April and has yet to play in Double-A. He was actually one of the youngest players in High-A, which tells you a lot about how young he is. To expect him to come up and face major league pitching and succeed right now is completely unfair, and that’s why you don’t see him.

But, as noted, there is a financial component to this. You’ve probably heard “start his clock,” which basically means that he would gain service time for every day he’s in the big leagues, pushing him closer to free agency. Let’s say you bring up Seager for, I don’t know, 45 days this year, and down the road, those 45 days push him over the threshold that allows him to become a free agent a year earlier. What you’ve done is trade 45 days of age-20 Seager (unlikely to be a very good player) for a full year of, say, age-26 Seager, who we all hope would be a star. That’s clearly not a worthwhile tradeoff, especially when it wouldn’t help you much this year, and that’s why it’s rarely done. (There’s also a related aspect of “Super Two,” which would give him an extra year of pricey arbitration, though I’m not sure that’ll still exist by the time Seager gets there.)

Gabriel: “Given they have little to no trade value, would it really be that bad to just release Ethier/Crawford and possibly defer their remaining contract Andruw Jones style?”

This is a valid question, but I just cannot seeing it happening. First of all, just think of the egos involved, and I’m not talking about the players. Can you really see Ned Colletti going to his bosses and saying, “hey, remember that time I thought it was a great idea to give these guys hundreds of millions, well, now I just want to cut them loose, but you still have to pay them?” Not likely. Or, if you believe either move was driven higher up, do you think Colletti is going to say “that was stupid, I’m going to cut them and make you look even more stupid?” Of course not.

Besides, there’s just far too much money left. The record, so far as I can tell, for most money eaten when DFA’ing a player was ~$21 million by Arizona when cutting Russ Ortiz back in 2006. Crawford has about $71 million left; Ethier $63m. Even this team isn’t going to simply cut that loose. Much more likely, one of them is bundled with a ton of money — enough to make one of them ~$5m/year players for their new team — for a disappointing return. Just from a PR standpoint, it’s far preferable to a DFA, and if you include something else of value in the deal, perhaps you get something mildly usable back.

Drew: “What about Lorenzo Cain from Royals for CF? He is RH, bumped from starting for Royals. He and Pederson could platoon for a while if Pederson needs it. Still need to move Either and/or Crawford. Would Royals want either one if Dodgers at big money?”

I like Cain, though I don’t know that I’d say it’s accurate to say he’s been “bumped from starting.” He’s a phenomenal defensive outfielder, still has several years of team control remaining, and thanks to a .379 BABIP, has had a very good year: .307/.342/.425. So sure, he’s a guy I like. But: why? The last thing the Dodgers seem to need to me is another outfielder, and if you want to fix center, well, just call up Joc Pederson. If the concern is that Pederson won’t be able to hit lefties — and I hate to hang a guy so young with that label — then you can live with sticking Scott Van Slyke or Matt Kemp out in center once a week or so, can’t you? There’s also the fact that the Royals believe they’re contenders this year, and they’d have to actually want to do this. I can’t see them having interest in either Crawford or Ethier, nor wanting to go with Jarrod Dyson as their everyday center fielder for a playoff push. Doesn’t seem likely to me.

Gabriel: “How is it that some TV “analysts” can say, with a straight face, that Adam Wainwright is better than Clayton Kershaw?”

89toppsclaytonkershawI don’t think this is about the All-Star game, because this question is a few days old, but there’s three easy answers to this:

1) Because Kershaw was hurt earlier in the year, he still hasn’t pitched enough innings to show up on the leaderboards.

2) Because as great as Kershaw is, let’s not undersell how fantastic Wainwright is. He’s got a 1.83 ERA / 2.52 FIP himself, and he might be building a Hall of Fame career. He is outstanding.

3) Because most “TV analysts” are horrible. I don’t know who you were listening to — Cardinals homers, maybe — but if you think broadcasters don’t look at “12 wins vs 11 wins” and think there’s something to that, you’re wrong. Never listen to them. Listen to us!

Brian: “Would the dodgers build a trade package around Dee Gordon and move Alex guerrero to 2nd base?”

Not this year, no. Guerrero missed so, so much time, and has still only played in about three games in rookie ball since being declared healthy. The trade deadline is only two weeks away, so even if you did want to do that, Guerrero wouldn’t be ready to step in. But you wouldn’t do that anyway, of course, because Gordon has been a million times more outstanding than any of us ever thought he could be. To take that away from the offense right now seems like a huge mistake, and there’s just no way it happens, especially, again, with Guerrero not even ready.

Now, over the winter, if you want to talk about “selling high” on Gordon… well, I still don’t think it happens, but it’s a viable and interesting conversation to have then.

SoCalBum: “Curious why Kyle Zimmer was not included in your prospects as a catching prospect? Played well for the Loons but off to a slow start with the Quakes.”

My guess would be because Kyle Zimmer is a pitching prospect for the Royals. But presuming you mean “Kyle Farmer,” who is a Dodger catching prospect, I asked Dustin about that, and he said that Farmer was “borderline Top 40” for him, and he’s probably not wrong to be cautious. Yes, Farmer’s numbers at Ogden and Great Lakes were impressive, but don’t forget that he was a college player who was old for the level; he’ll already be 24 next month. To use a completely unfair comparison, he’s barely more than two years younger than Kershaw. As Farmer progresses through the minors to higher levels, we’ll see what he’s really made of, and while I’m not going to put too much into 65 plate appearances, he is off to a slower start — .200/.313/.236 — at High-A. We’re probably all just so desperate to have a catching prospect for the first time in a decade — A.J. Ellis, though homegrown, was never really a “prospect” — that there’s some blue-tinted glasses going on here.

Patrick: “I feel bad for typing this, but I think Scully is starting to go senile. I’m positive he just called Ryu Byung Hun Kim. I love the man, but does anyone else notice this?!”


Well, look, you’re not 100 percent wrong, because Vin does get names wrong. Just the other day, Juan Uribe made a fine defensive play, and he was referred to as “Puig.” Whether that’s increased or not as Vin’s aged, I can’t really say with certainty. It also does not matter. Just spend a few innings listening to any other broadcasters in the game, because you can’t really appreciate what Vin does until you hear everyone else doing something that’s in no way as good. We never know how much time we have left with the man. I plan on appreciating every minute of it, and if his wonderful stories come wrapped in a mistaken name now and then, I’m more than fine with that.

About Mike Petriello

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