Uh, no. Not him. Via MLBtraderumors:
According to Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News, the Dodgers have agreed to terms with Doug Mientkiewicz on a minor league contract.
Mientkiewicz will join spring training camp once he passes a physical. He’s no Manny Ramirez, but, as Jackson writes, he “might have a good chance of making the club to fill that role that Nomar Garciaparra filled last year.”
Wait, wasn’t Mark Loretta brought in to fill the role that Nomar had last year? You know, play several different infield spots, mash lefties. Except that Loretta was going to actually stay upright long enough to do it.
Again, “minor league contract”, so that’s fine, but I guess I don’t totally see the point here. Eyechart (best nickname – think about it, and there’s no way I’m writing out “Mientkiewicz” every time) is a superb defensive first baseman, to the point where he’s also seen time at 2B, 3B, and RF in his career. That’s nice and all, but I don’t think that James Loney really needs a defensive caddy, and while Casey Blake might, Doug was rated at an awful 17.9 runs below average (over 150 games) by FanGraphs for his work at 3B last year.
He’s actually a better hitter than I’d thought he was, especially for a guy who’s been on 6 teams in the last 5 years, with a career OPS+ of exactly 100 – average, and he has almost no discernable lefty/righty split (just .009 in OPS apart over his career). So it’s not that he’s a bad player, because an excellent defensive 1B who’s not awful at the plate isn’t a bad piece. The question is really more one of roster composition.
Think about it: the 4 infield starters are accounted for and Loretta is a lock. Assuming Manny comes back, he’s a starter along with Kemp and Ethier, with Pierre and at least one other outfielder (Young/Repko/etc) around. Add in Ausmus, and you’ve got 4 bench spots already spoken for (Ausmus/Loretta/Pierre/OF). Now, if the team is going to carry 12 pitchers (which I’m always strongly against, but they seem to prefer) you’ve only got one more spot. It seems to me that the biggest hole there is middle infield, partially because of the depth this team has at that spot and partially because both Furcal and Hudson are coming off of injuries. Sure, Loretta’s there, but wouldn’t you think we’d also need to see a Tony Abreu/Blake DeWitt/Chin-Lung Hu type? That has to be more important than adding a backup first baseman when the starter played 161 games last year.
Now, if the club does decide to carry only 11 pitchers then I could see this, but they never seem to do that. Again, a minor-league contract for a solid player isn’t a big problem in the long run; we’ll just have to see how the roster shakes out for this.