2012 in brief: “Other guy” in Hanley Ramirez trade proved to be an effective LOOGY out of the pen.
2013 status: Signed a three-year deal with St. Louis because that’s apparently a thing that can happen for 37-year-old specialists now.
It may rightfully be remembered as “the Hanley Ramirez” trade, and I think I’d have liked the deal just the same even if it was only Ramirez, but we tried to remember at the time that there was another player headed to the Dodgers also:
Of course, it’s not just Ramirez coming, because Randy Choate fills a need as well. The 36-year-old lefty has pitched in parts of 12 big league seasons for the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rays, and Marlins, including an absurd 85 games for Tampa in 2010. While I’ve liked Scott Elbert‘s performance just fine, he’s not your typical lefty reliever in that he actually gets righties out better than fellow southpaws. Over Choate’s career, lefties hit just .203/.277/.285 against him, and this year it’s just .150/.200/.183. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, his OPS vs lefties of .454 is the best in baseball since 2009, minimum 300 PA.. He may not be a big name, but he absolutely fills a need.
Elbert injured his elbow just days after Choate arrived, making him the only lefty pitcher in the bullpen for much of the rest of the season until Paco Rodriguez arrived. The Dodgers got their money’s worth out of him, at least: Choate made it into 36 games despite being on the roster for just barely over two months, but only twice in that time – his first two games with the Dodgers, actually – did he pitch even so much as an inning. In fact, 28 times he threw eight pitches or fewer, which is great work if you can get it.
It also makes reviewing Choate’s work difficult, because when you’re generally having such little impact upon a game, it means your name doesn’t come up all that often. On one hand, that’s a good thing, because the best middle reliever is the one who keeps himself out of the headlines; on the other, there’s not a whole lot of notable moments to look back upon. So we’ll say this: when Choate was called upon to face lefties, he did his job, holding them to only a .171/.300/.268 line in 51 PA. When he was asked to face righties… uh, well, maybe Don Mattingly shouldn’t have asked him to do that. (.600/.692/.600 in 13 PA.)
While the Dodgers had interest in retaining him, I’m pretty sure there’s not a soul among us who really wishes they’d matched the three-year deal the Cardinals gave him, so that’s the end of a short Los Angeles career.
Next up! Sigh. It’s Matt Guerrier.