But that didn’t stop Mattingly from talking with Scott Rolen to feel out the possibility of adding the free agent as a veteran option. Mattingly confirmed the Dodgers have had internal discussions about that possibility and he reached out to the fellow Indiana native a few weeks ago in a preliminary attempt to gauge Rolen’s interest.
Later, Plunkett added…
Mattingly admitted he has “a little concern” about whether Cruz can replicate his performance from 2012 (.297 with six home runs and 40 RBIs in 92 games) over a full season. But his big concern on the infield is whether Hanley Ramirez can improve defensively and be the everyday shortstop. If Ramirez’s defense is not satisfactory, that could create a domino effect of problems for the Dodgers.
It’s nice to have confirmation of the Dodger interest in Rolen that was reported earlier this month, and even nicer to know that the hot final six weeks that made Cruz into a folk hero haven’t completely fooled the team management. That said, Rolen’s a very flawed alternative at this point himself, and we’ve been over this so many times that there’s really almost no chance of an outside improvement this late in the winter.
Honestly, it puts us all in a very awkward position. Sure, we all hope that Cruz is for real, that he’s a solid player who helps this team win — an example, essentially, of “found money”, as opposed to the millions of real dollars spent on uncertainties like Carl Crawford. But objectively, it’s difficult to think that six weeks of good play — without walking, ever — overcomes 12 years of mediocrity, and the issue is that tons of fans aren’t thinking about this objectively — they’re 100% certain in their hearts that Cruz is the next big thing, that he’s the hard-working fighter who made his way through years of obstacles to finally become a local hero after getting the “chance he deserved”.
For the sake of winning Dodgers baseball, I sincerely hope we’re wrong about Cruz in 2013. For the sake of being able to trust any of our objective analysis in the future, it’d be a small measure of relief if we’re not. And for the sake of having different types of Dodger fans not be at each other’s throats, I hope it’s a happy medium — preferably one that involves having Cruz being a useful utility player while a more reliable option is in the starting lineup. Of course, that’s unlikely to happen at this point, so we’ll hope for the best.