So, Jimmy Rollins is struggling along as a replacement-level player (.198/.261/.332, 67 wRC+), and Corey Seager is back from a minor hand injury and is still looking pretty impressive in Triple-A. On top of that, we’ve been seeing endless waves of other similar top prospects – some younger than Seager – get the call to the bigs. It’s more than understandable that fans are wondering, well, why not Seager?
The Dodgers, rightfully, aren’t letting the decisions of other teams influence their thinking. From ESPN’s Mark Saxon earlier this week:
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team will promote Seager when he is ready, not because Rollins is batting .200. He said the team has a road map for Seager’s development that includes more seasoning at Triple-A. The Dodgers think he could benefit from continuing to face the veteran pitchers at Triple-A and continuing to adjust to a faster game defensively.
Which is as it should be. What the Astros or Twins or Rangers do shouldn’t affect what the Dodgers do. Still, it’s perfectly reasonable for Dodger fans to want to see Seager as soon as possible. That got me thinking, though. Were any of the other top prospect callups in a similar situation? That is, Rollins really couldn’t be benched. He’d have to be cut. Other than a single inning at second base back in 2002, he’s never played another position in the big leagues, and the Dodgers simply don’t have the roster space to carry a shortstop-only backup on the bench. And while Rollins’ performance hasn’t exactly made him an untouchable, what happens if you dump him and Seager really isn’t ready? That makes your shortstop… Enrique Hernandez? Justin Turner?
If Seager is ready, you take the chance and don’t let that risk stand in the way. But it does add another layer to this decision. Anyway, back to my original thought. Was the situation similar for anyone else?
We’ve heard a lot lately about how every other prospect on preseason Top 10 lists has already been recalled, so let’s pick one — Baseball Prospectus, though they’re all mostly similar — and see how it worked for other Top 10 hitters.
- Byron Buxton — Minnesota center fielders (Shane Robinson, Aaron Hicks, and Jordan Schafer) have a combined 67 wRC+, are mere placeholders, and have more positional flexibility than Rollins, making it easier to call him up a few days ago.
- Addison Russell — A surprisingly early recall by the Cubs, although Arismendy Alcantara, Tommy La Stella, and Jonathan Herrera weren’t exactly roadblocks.
- Carlos Correa — Younger than Seager, but considered a better prospect, and with Jed Lowrie injured, it wasn’t exactly difficult to push aside Jonathan Villar and Marwin Gonzalez.
- Francisco Lindor — Just recalled over the weekend, mostly because 22-year-old Jose Ramirez wasn’t justifying his own existence with a .180/.247/.240 line.
- Kris Bryant — Older than Seager, had already spent much of last year in Triple-A, and would have been on the Opening Day roster if not for service time games.
- Seager — In Triple-A.
- Miguel Sano — In Double-A, and missed all of 2014 with Tommy John surgery.
- Joey Gallo — Recalled by Texas earlier this month when Adrian Beltre landed on the disabled list.
- Blake Swihart — Rushed to the big leagues by Boston when both Ryan Hanigan and Christian Vazquez were injured. Has struggled, hitting .222/.263/.296.
- Joc Pederson — Played a full season of Triple-A in 2014, and even got to the bigs in September.
Not on that list is Kyle Schwarber, who was also just called up by the Cubs, though reportedly with the intention just to DH and PH for a few days and send him right back down by next week.
So there really hasn’t been a similar situation among these other young players. It’s either been obviously-ready guys with Triple-A experience, players rushed due to injury, or spots where replacement players with no track record can easily be moved.
That’s not the same thing as saying that Rollins absolutely can’t be touched. The more he struggles, the more we all want to see Seager, and while before the season I thought he’d be a September cup-of-coffee guy, now it’s easier and easier to see him making a real contribution in the second half of the season. Can’t see it happening now, though, or probably even this month. But if it’s July, and Rollins and the offense are still scuffling and Seager is performing? Well, July’s just not that far away.