— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 6, 2012
I am all but floored by the move, but thrilled about it nonetheless. Gwynn’s utility to the team ended the moment they picked up Shane Victorino (who could cover center if anything happened to Matt Kemp), but also when he continued to prove that he simply cannot hit at a major league level, having a year at the plate worse than his usual mediocre self. With Victorino, Kemp, & Andre Ethier squarely set as the starting outfielders and Jerry Hairston, Sands, and several others able to spot in as needed, Gwynn’s role as a defensive replacement was tough to justify. What’s mostly shocking to me is that he was signed for 2013 as well and it’s rare for clubs to DFA guys like that; then again, I never liked giving him a two-year deal in the first place.
Sands, meanwhile, has been struggling much of the year in the minors but has been red-hot lately, leading the PCL “since the All-Star break with 9 HRs, .733 slugging% and 28 RBI (T-1st) in 23 games,” according to J.P. Hoornstra. The real question now is, what is his role? Will he really be given a chance to replace Juan Rivera & James Loney at first base every day? For both his sake and that of the team’s, I hope so.
If he is, that raises another question, which is why was it Gwynn that was jettisoned over Juan Uribe or Rivera. I still believe Uribe gets gone on Thursday when Adam Kennedy returns, so that might explain that, and in Gwynn or Rivera, your choice is between a plus defender who can’t hit and a poor defender who can sorta kinda not really hit. I suppose I’d rather have Rivera coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter than Gwynn, and if Sands fails again in the bigs, you’ll want to have more than just Loney as your first base option.
I’m very surprised by this, but I can’t really argue one word of complaint about it. Excited to see Sands back, and impressed that a backloaded two-year deal isn’t an impediment to roster improvement.