If this report from Eric Stephen of TrueBlueLA is to be believed – and I say that not because I don’t trust Eric, who is wonderful, but just because it strikes me as odd that no other outlets have this news right now – Jerry Sands is going to be sent back to Albuquerque prior to the start of tomorrow’s road trip to make room for Adam Kennedy, who is returning from a short stay on the disabled list thanks to a strained groin.
This is, of course, tremendously disappointing, because it’ll mean that despite all of the furious roster moves we’ve seen over the last few weeks this is a club that will still have Kennedy and Juan Uribe and James Loney and Juan Rivera and Luis Cruz all on the roster at the same time. Beyond that – and I almost feel like I don’t have a whole lot more to offer on it, because I’m just as “WTF” as the rest of you – it would cap off a week of absolutely bizarre roster machinations.
On Monday, Tony Gwynn was DFA’d to bring up Sands. (Gwynn, it should be noted, will accept his trip to Albuquerque, as Stephen reports.) Sands started that night in right field against Drew Pomeranz, went 0-3 before being double-switched out in the seventh, and was never seen again for the rest of the series. So this was worth interrupting Sands’ hot streak and DFA’ing Gwynn… how, exactly?
The funny thing is, I didn’t even mind letting Gwynn go. I mentioned it even back on July 31, when we were trying to figure out who would get cut for Shane Victorino, that Gwynn no longer had a role on this team. Sure, he’s a plus defensive outfielder, but he is not a major league quality hitter, and “backup outfielder on a team with three set starting outfielders” isn’t a very large piece of the puzzle.
All I can think of is that they were planning to cut Gwynn all along – which, again, fine – and rather than wait until Kennedy returned to do it, they figured they might as well get the benefit of Sands for a few days first. That’s defensible logic in theory. Or at least it would have been, if Sands had been actually been allowed to play, particularly when the Rockies started lefty Jeff Francis last night. Juan Rivera went 0-4, now has one hit in his last 18 at-bats, and is not the solution to this or any other problem; it’s worth noting that his seasonal line now sits at .246/.282/.351, or worse than the .243/.305/.360 that got him DFA’d by Toronto last year.
Now, I’ll admit that if Sands isn’t going to play, I’d much rather him getting regular time in Albuquerque than riding the bench in Los Angeles. But what concerns me is that it’s hard not to look at this situation and not see signs of a larger problem. Ned Colletti refuses to free us of the scourge of Juan Uribe, and Don Mattingly responds by absolutely refusing to play him, with just one appearance as a defensive replacement in more than two weeks – and Mattingly is absolutely right to do so, even if it means playing the quickly-descending Cruz. Colletti cuts a popular if flawed player in Gwynn in order to get a potentially powerful bat in Sands up for a series with two lefty pitchers, and Mattingly barely plays him either, refusing to give up on the execrable Rivera. Are there signs that the front office and bench aren’t totally on the same page? I can’t say that I have any hard evidence to point to, but something smells weird here.
Perhaps worst of all, we’re talking about all of this rosterbation without confronting the main issue head-on, which is that Adam Kennedy is somehow a player who absolutely must be on the roster when he’s healthy, as though there’s no other possibility here. (I don’t want to hear about his “hot July”, as though 40 pre-injury plate appearances somehow carry more weight than months and years of ineptitude beforehand.) So now you’ve got two completely useless sides of a first base platoon, three backup infielders who range from “can’t hit” to “really can’t hit” to “will never get a chance to play again”, and I have absolutely no idea what to make of it all.
I am hopeful, at least, that seeing Gwynn & Bobby Abreu culled is the beginning of the new regime cutting bait on the bottom part of the roster. I suppose we can argue about what order these guys should have gone in, but if anything, it makes me realize how much more work remains. This roster is soft, and confusing roster choices and inexplicable dedication to far-over-the-hill veterans isn’t helping.