Dodgers’ answer to finding a bat at the deadline: Alex Guerrero

While we’re easily frustrated by the Dodgers’ inconsistent offense, they actually can score some runs, even while missing Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez.

The Dodgers are 10th in the majors in runs scored — no small feat. They also have the sixth-best walk rate in the league (9.5 percent). While there needs to be more consistency, they don’t need a big boost on offense.

With July 31 approaching quickly, the biggest names the Dodgers are connected to are all starting pitchers — Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, David Price. They’re also probably going to trade for a reliever, as the bullpen is an absolute mess right now outside of Kenley Jansen and J.P. Howell.

But, they don’t need another big bat. They have plenty of big bats, including one in the minors in the form of Joc Pederson. Now, they might trade for a backup catcher or a real center fielder (if they refuse to recall Pederson), but they don’t need a Marlon Byrd, Daniel Murphy, Alex Rios or Ben Zobrist. They need Alex Guerrero to be that guy.

Guerrero is rehabbing on his way back to Triple-A after the ear-biting incident. He’s played with the Arizona Rookie League Dodgers (at Camelback Ranch) and with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. He’s been playing second- and third base, and shortstop thus far in an attempt to increase his utility for to the Dodgers for the rest of the season. His best defensive position is second base, his “natural” position is shortstop and it’s anyone’s guess how he is at third base.

He’s playing against competition far younger than him, but he’s 12-for-33 (.364) with four doubles, four walks and six strikeouts. He just needs to get back into game shape, as he isn’t playing a full nine innings every time out (though, he did last night in Bakersfield).

But, despite being a rookie, he isn’t your typical rookie — and I’m not even talking about him being signed for $28 million out of Cuba. He’s already 27 years old, a mature player and a guy — for all intents and purposes — can hit. Yes, he’s hitting .376/.417/.735 in Albuquerque, scouting reports on him have always favored his bat.

With the Dodgers’ bench depth having been tested time and time again this season, an addition like Guerrero could be invaluable. He could be the Dodgers’ Zobrist, minus the plus defense at second base and right field. Guerrero could be at least average at second base, passable in a pinch at shortstop and is at least athletic enough to handle third base on the days Juan Uribe (he’s 35, lest you forget) needs a day off and Justin Turner is otherwise occupied.

Adding Guerrero to the Dodgers’ bench next month — or whenever he’s ready — could be quite the boost. It’d mean someone would be out of a job and the Dodgers wouldn’t have a true backup shortstop (it’s Turner’s job now), but for the offense and decent (hopefully) infield defense elsewhere, it’d probably be worth it. It’s also a lot to put on a guy who has one plate appearance this season (remember Australia?), but he’s good enough to handle it. Plus, he wouldn’t be an everyday player, so Don Mattingly could play the matchups on days Guerrero starts, or use him as a valuable pinch-hitter. Not having to waste valuable resources (time and prospects) on a bat would allow the Dodgers to focus said resources on finding a starter and reliever.

The Dodgers don’t need to use any assets on acquiring a bat-first player this trade deadline season. A true center fielder (or just recall Pederson already, JFC) would be great, as would a pitch-framing backup catcher (hi, Rene Rivera), should be the only guys the Dodgers are looking to add on offense.

That is, unless Giancarlo Stanton becomes available …

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.