Dodgers Showing Interest in Hideki Matsui

Jon Weisman breaking some news over at Dodger Thoughts today:

Earlier this week, Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com reported that the Dodgers are considering the addition of a free-agent left-handed pinch-hitter. Today, Jackson told me via e-mail he has learned that there are at least three people on the Dodgers’ list and one of them is Hideki Matsui.

Matsui would join the proud recent tradition of dedicating at least one roster spot to a veteran bench bat who can’t play the field and are long past their sell-by dates, following Marcus Thames (.576 OPS in 2011), Garret Anderson (.475 OPS in 2010) and Mark Sweeney (.413 OPS in 2008), among others.

Back to Matsui, I have to admit that I’d thought of him as someone who hadn’t been effective in years, so I was surprised to see that he was very good for the Angels in 2010, hitting .274/.361/.459 with 21 homers, mainly as a DH, before falling off the cliff for Oakland at 37 last year, putting up a line of only .251/.321/.375. That can be somewhat chalked up to the miserable hitting environment at whatever-the-hell-it-is-they’re-calling-that-park-these-days Stadium, though a .729 OPS on the road is hardly much to get excited about either. Considering that Matsui was consistently rated as a below-average fielder even in his long-ago peak, he’s only a designated hitter now, and a mediocre one at that. I hardly need to tell you that a 38-year-old coming off his worst season and who is unplayable in the field isn’t someone a National League team ought to be going after, yet that’s exactly the type of bat Ned Colletti seem to love – so expect to see him in Dodger blue. Maybe even with a backloaded two-year deal!

Jackson notes that there’s at least two others who could fit the description; assuming that we’re restricting this to “lefty hitter, veteran, will be satisfied with a bench gig”, toss in the standard Colletti devaluation for “is over 30 and was good three or more years ago, but not recently” and cross-reference that with the MLBTradeRumors free agent list, we get these names:

Ross Gload
Craig Counsell
Brad Hawpe
Raul Ibanez
Rick Ankiel
Jorge Posada

Hardly appealing. There’s better options, of course – you know I like Wilson Betemit, and Johnny Damon can at least hit, though is a terrible fit for a National League team – but based on the last six years, why should we think that the intention here is anything other than it’s been before? Assuming the team does sign such a veteran and tenders Tony Gwynn for his defense as we all expect, this would all-but-certainly send Jerry Sands to Triple-A to start the season.

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