But I also can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that he just hasn’t been very good for quite some time. While his stats on the season are still quite respectable (.278/.345/.405 94 OPS+), he’s been really, really lousy over the last month: .221/.287/.267 and a 50 OPS+. He’s been especially bad over the last week, getting just 3 singles in 19 at-bats, with 4 strikeouts and 0 walks.
My point here is not to bash Blake DeWitt. Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that he was only thrust into the starting job at the hot corner because every other third baseman in the Western Hemisphere was injured, and we all expected a line like that of what Chin-Lung Hu produced (.159/.224/.206, if you really want to know). And as I don’t need to tell you, he blew every single projection out of the water with his hot bat and sparkling defense, which led me to say this about him on May 5:
Judging by every statistic and scouting report known to man, letting this kid who admittedly had talent but had shown no indication of putting it all together play in the bigs could only lead to catastrophe. Right? Let’s look at the stats again: in 4 MiLB seasons, he had a line of .279/.332/.443 and Baseball Prospectus believed that gave him a 50% shot of putting up a .253/.303/.394 MLB line. So what has he actually done? He’s blown all that away at .295/.382/.436. That’s respectable no matter who you are, and he’s been particularly hot over the last week (.438/.500/.563). Look at it this way: he’s currently 8th in all of MLB 3B in OPS at .818, which is ahead of some guys you may have heard of, like Ryan Zimmerman, Troy Glaus, and Mark Reynolds.
That OPS has now sank to .750, still good for 12th in MLB, but if he keeps up his recent production, it’s going to keep sinking. Now, it’s very much up in the air as to the cause of his current struggles. Is it just a slump, or has Cindarella turned back into a pumpkin? I’m not suggesting that he’s lost it, nor am I suggesting that he ought to be sent back to the minors. But here’s what I am suggesting: Why isn’t Andy LaRoche playing more? He’s been back up for over a week now, and he’s gotten all of 8 plate appearances, in which he’s garnered a homer and two walks. I thought the entire point of recalling LaRoche after letting him get some time in at 1B and 2B in the minors was to be somewhat of a super-infielder – the righty yin to the lefty yang of Loney and DeWitt at the corners, and as a way to keep Luis Maza from playing whenever Kent needs a rest at second. But what have we gotten so far? One start at first base, one start at third base, and two pinch-hitting appearances. Look, I love what Blake DeWitt has done for this team, especially in a position of such desperation as the Dodgers were in to start the year at third; but the fact is, he’s just not getting it done right now. DeWitt still deserves a shot to prove he’s just in a slump, but until one of the two youngsters get it going, LaRoche and DeWitt really ought to be splitting time at third – not having it be DeWitt 90% of the time.
This may seem kind of harsh to a good young player who we all got behind, but let’s not let his amazing story blind us to reality: this team can’t hit at all right now, and DeWitt’s pretty high on the list of offenders at the moment. I don’t see anything wrong with the idea of getting LaRoche 2-3 starts a week at 3B and another at 1B (I’ll leave aside 2B for the moment, since Torre seems to completely not trust him there), and letting performance be the predicator of future playing time.
Also, Fire Ned Colletti Now (well, at least you know where they stand, although I’ve always wonder what happens to blogs that are titled so specifically after that person is no longer with the organization) has a pretty sobering thought on the payroll:
With Hiroki Kuroda now hurt, the Dodgers have a participating payroll of 34.2 million dollars. The amount the Dodgers are paying players this year tops 118 million, but 84.4 million of it is being spent on guys currently hurt or playing for other teams.
I think most agree that Colletti’s job is probably safe because A) it’s really only the blogosphere that’s vocally unhappy with him, not the mainstream guys who helped contribute so much to DePodesta’s firing, and B) McCourt may not want the PR hit of firing yet another GM after such a short tenure, but: I wonder if he’s aware of that stat? That can’t make any businessman happy.
- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness