Eugenio Velez, Starting Left Fielder

As much as all of the off-field garbage has infuriated us, I must admit it makes for a lot of juicy blog material. You know what doesn’t, though? Game recaps of yet another depressing loss to yet another mediocre club. I will say this, however: not hitting for the punchless Eugenio Velez with the tying run on second and two outs in the ninth is not one of my favorite Don Mattingly choices. You had Trent Oeltjen and Aaron Miles each on the bench (yes, Miles was out after being hit by a pitch on Tuesday but was reportedly available), and each were better choices than Velez, who has yet to hit a ball out of the infield as a Dodger. I suppose it doesn’t really matter, though; at least it wasn’t Dioner Navarro.

Speaking of Velez, his start last night made him the 8th starting Dodger left fielder, meaning the Dodgers have nearly matched last year’s total of nine before the All-Star break, though since Casey Blake subbed there without starting, the overall total is indeed nine. Back in March, I asked just how many left fielders we might end up seeing this year:

Let’s assume for the moment that Gibbons, Tony Gwynn, and Marcus Thames are all but certain to see some time in left. With the extra spots opened up by the injuries to Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla, I think Paul probably does spend the first week or two with the big club, though I’d be shocked if he survives through April. Also on the out-of-options train is Hector Gimenez, who’s doing everything possible to make the club, and who we learned today is supposedly going to see some left field time of his own this week.

Let’s say that both Paul & Gimenez make the roster and make token appearances in LF, even if both are gone by May. That’ll be five possibles, but it won’t stop there. We all think Jerry Sands makes his debut this season, and that might extend to Trayvon Robinson as well. For veteran stopgaps in Albuquerque, there’s Oeltjen and Jamie Hoffmann, and possibly utility guy Eugenio Velez. Then there’s the non-zero possibility that infielders Carroll and Blake make cameos, and you could possibly see Andre Ethier shifted over should Gwynn actually grab the CF job and slide Matt Kemp to RF. That’s without even considering what happens if JaMarcus Gwybbons, Jr. fails completely before Sands is ready and the club is forced to go out and acquire someone new.

With the exception of Gimenez getting hurt and never making it out there, almost all of that has happened:

  G GS Inn Ch PO A E Fld%
Tony Gwynn 55 26 287.1 63 57 6 0 1.000
Jerry Sands 35 28 243.1 56 52 4 0 1.000
Marcus Thames 17 15 99.0 27 26 0 1 .963
Jay Gibbons 10 10 71.0 12 12 0 0 1.000
Trent Oeltjen 5 5 39.0 10 9 0 1 .900
Xavier Paul 5 2 19.0 6 5 1 0 1.000
Eugenio Velez 1 1 9.0 3 2 0 1 .667
Jamie Hoffmann 1 1 8.0 3 3 0 0 1.000
Casey Blake 2 0 3.1 0 0 0 0  
League Average               .985
Team Total 88 88 779.0 180 166 11 3 .983
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/7/2011.

As we learned in the spring, the club record is 15, set in 1985 and tied in 1987. Let’s set that record! Robinson seems almost certain to get out there later in the season, and Russ Mitchell is still a possibility. We can do it!

Back to Velez, I think Giants fans are enjoying having him in blue just a little bit too much, based on what they’ve been sending me.

Bay City Ball, 12/13/10:

Velez can’t hit. His swing is impossibly long, and he has no pitch recognition skills to speak of. Despite his speed, he can’t steal bases either. He is clearly a graduate of the Ruben Rivera School for Fast Guys Who Can’t Steal Good and Can’t Do Other Stuff Good Too. His defense at second is terrifying. He’s error prone, and has such a bad first step that no amount of range could possibly make up for it. Each error is executed with such goofy panic that the viewer can’t help but feel that the next one will be even worse. His OF defense progressed from unplayable to all the way up to merely unwatchable during his tenure with the Giants. I imagine that  the way forward for him, career wise, is to play 6th outfielder until hope triumphs over experience for some poor team in spring training again.

The last thing about Velez, and probably the most dangerous thing about him is that by all accounts, he’s an absolute gem of a human being. He’s beloved by his teammates and praised by all that meet him. If he were just a crappy, surly,  jerk of a ball-player no one would ever be tempted to play him. So, Dodger fans, if you are comforting yourself with the thought that this is just a minor league deal, and that Velez has a seemingly remote chance of making the roster, I say “ha!”. He is exactly the kind of player who will hit .600 with 7 HRs in spring training, then spend all of April and May converting his own PAs into outs and balls in play into anything but.

Then you will hate him, and then you will feel kind of bad about that. Then you’ll hate your own team for making you hate a perfectly likable human being.  That’s how these players go.

Productive Outs, 6/24/11:

Are you there, God? It’s me, Eugenio.

I know it’s been a while, but I’ve been a good boy this year and I was hoping to ask you for a few things. 

  1. A uniform that fits 
  2. For the other kids at the playground to stop calling me “Zorak” and “Fast Black Abe Lincoln”
  3. An Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!
  4. To be able to grow hair on parts of my face other than my chin
  5. To stop being terrible at baseball

Sincerely, 

Baron Pickoff von Ironglove

“Baron Pickoff von Ironglove”. Sold.

******

We’ve added #52 to the McCourt sin list. Remember, this list will keep on growing as more info comes out.

52.Reportedly attempted to take an additional $20m out of the team in April 2011, even after the concerns about making payroll had arisen. (Added 7/6/11)

******

Over at Dodger Thoughts, Jon has a great (and depressing) look back at the realization that just two years ago, the Dodgers had arguably the best team in baseball. It’s been a quick fall since then, no? I’ve long felt that the greatness of the 2009 club was a bit underrated, though I suppose that’s what happens when you get bounced out of the playoffs in the NLCS.

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