Bench Target: Jeff Baker?

baker_texas

I think we all know that the main priorities of this offseason for the Dodgers are going to be 1) give Clayton Kershaw all of the dollars for all of the years; 2) find someone, anyone, who can play third base; and 3) add another starting pitcher, whether that’s Ricky Nolasco or David Price or Masahiro Tanaka.

But as we’ve also discussed, the bench is going to be an issue as well, because just about everyone other than Tim Federowicz is now a free agent. And sure, maybe Nick Punto or someone else returns, but everyone won’t, and even if they do, the bench was hardly a strength this year. It’s something that needs to be fixed. It’s something that always needs to be fixed.

On top of that, as I say pretty much every single year, there was no one who could handle a tough lefty reliever. This has been a problem for the Dodgers for so many years, because guys like Andre Ethier, James Loney when he was around, and now Carl Crawford are never ever going to hit lefties. Ever. The team has occasionally tried to patch this with reserves like Juan Rivera and Reed Johnson, but it rarely works, and that’s how 160 more plate appearances were wasted by Ethier hitting .221/.275/.338 against lefties.

So in a never-ending attempt to solve this, I throw out a name I imagine most of you aren’t familiar with: Jeff Baker, who turns 33 in June and can kinda, sorta play the four corners and second base.

He can also destroy lefty pitching, and that’s the main point here. In 123 plate appearances against lefties this year, he hit .314/.407/.667. Before you can yell “small sample size!”, know that in his career, over more than 800 plate appearances, it’s .298/.353/.522. That’s a .375 wOBA, and that essentially makes him Jose Bautista if he’s only playing against lefties. (And only against lefties; he’s .236/.288/.358 and a .285 wOBA against righties.)

Baker spent the first five years of his career with the Rockies and most of the next four with the Cubs, though since leaving the Cubs in August of 2012 he’s bounced from Detroit to Atlanta to Texas, and he always seems to be undervalued. That’s partially because he’s not really great at any of those defensive positions, but if he can crush lefty pitching like that and be something of a Jerry Hairston-lite at five spots, it’s hard to think there’s not room for him on the bench. Hell, the Rangers got him on only a minor-league deal in January this year, and the $1.75m he ended up making was the most of his career.

The Dodgers need someone who can hit lefties. If that person can stand around at a few positions, all the better, especially in the National League and on a roster that has (for now, anyway) both Crawford & Ethier. Give him two million, give him an option, whatever. It’s less about money than it is about roster spots, and this appears to be a much more efficient way to use one than, say, another year of Skip Schumaker or Michael Young.

1319 comments
Coche
Coche

Wouldn't mind a flyer on Chris Young, especially if an OF gets moved.

Lobo
Lobo

"In their first full year under the Guggenheim Partners, the Dodgers spent more on payroll than any non-Yankees team ever had, and came within two wins of a trip to the World Series. Expect them to continue spending big in pursuit of their first championship since 1988."

Why does every sportswriter ignore Kasten's REPEATED comments that we're going to be focusing on developing the farm system rather than big ticket free agent signings in the future?

http://mlb.si.com/2013/11/07/nl-west-hot-stove-dodgers-diamondbacks-giants-padres-rockies/

capnsparrow
capnsparrow

Chili Buss was seen sulking. Last night at the Tex-Mex place in West Covina after reading Blah's letter!

Vin_Skully
Vin_Skully

I wish we could find a way to make a deal to get rid of Crawford... even if it meant eating some salary. I am tired of the Joc blocking.

eating the salary is worth getting younger and less injury prone imo. Plus you would not be paying Joc that much.

DBrim
DBrim moderator

I guess Scott Miller and Danny Knobler got laid off.

Paulstralia
Paulstralia

I just coded software for the first time in almost a year, and I'm reminded why I walked away from programming.

nudibranch
nudibranch

On the plus side, Baker had a wOBA vs lefties this season of .452, approaching Hanley's season mark of .479.  On the minus side, his poor fielding and baserunning resulted in a season WAR of 0.4.  In sum, I'd take him as a pinch-hitter vs lefties as long as his fielding role is minimal.

ABSmileBunch
ABSmileBunch

Oh, also since I didn't say so earlier...I think Jeff Baker is a good idea...too bad ned doesn't care about our opinions.

Lobo
Lobo

Herrera review is done

MSTI OG
MSTI OG

im going to bed, night my babies

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

Damn it Blah you stole my idea for an article lol

LakerDodger24 (Kirby Pls)
LakerDodger24 (Kirby Pls)

This guest writing thing is either going to be very successful, or a disaster. I can't wait for VND's and Drank's reviews. 

BIah
BIah

I would love to see the looks on the face of Mike's advertisers when they see a guest post written by a 'purple drank'

Dearest Chili Buss,

Pleaes forgive any typos, as I am a drank and have no hands, thus making it difficult and time-consuming to type.  So I'm not gonna TL;DR, you need to read this whoel damn thing.

During your tenure with the franchise hereby known as the Los Angeles Superbas, you batted .105.  Now, being that I am a drank and I have a poor natural batting stance, I am not one to judge, but considering the major league salary of a baseball player, I am quite offended that you could not even bat above the Cruz Line.  You batted right at the chili line.  The brown line that forms a crusty ring above the water in my toilet bowl after a hearty night of Tex-Mex and passing out and forgetting to flush.

You are setting a bad example to our children by showing them that a major league baseball player can get onto a franchise that has the largest payroll in sports history and play like that.  Your grade, young man, is a C.  Not for chili.  For crestfallen hopes.  You were meant to be a hero.  You had so much potential.  But instead, you gave us exactly the season we could have expected out of you.  What a damn disappointment.

Best wishes,

Purps

EephusBlue
EephusBlue moderator

@Lobo Because narrative man. People like reading about big spending teams so they can sit back and say WOW and haters can say tsk tsk. No one ever cares when a team doesn't spend.

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

@Lobo can't it be both? I mean, they aren't going to spend a bajillion dollars every year but nor do I think that they're going to be #14 in payroll. They certainly want Tanaka this winter.

MSTI OG
MSTI OG

did they ever really contribute anything?

Lobo
Lobo

Well, done except for a little image editing for which I shall need Eephus' help

TheConman
TheConman

@Purple Drank lol, a family tradition. Also, the mom's name is Jessica Black. I bet she just hates her last name 

BIah
BIah

@Purple Drank I just wrote it for you, though.  Saved you a ton of that grueling typing.  All you need to do is copy and paste!

Lobo
Lobo

@Mike Petriello @Lobo I guess he might just be referring to this offseason but everyone makes it seem like we're going to be getting a new 100 million dollar player every winter

DBrim
DBrim moderator

Yeah, it was on deadspin.

Paulstralia
Paulstralia

@SpaceDodger (math cat) @Paul_from_grace spent like an hour testing and tweaking an algorithm. Realized I didn't need anything nearly that complicated, and my only problem was that i was casting a double to an int in the wrong spot. 

Lobo
Lobo

@ThtsaPaddlin @BIah In the South they think it's real Mexican food


To be fair, most Californians improperly call grills "barbecues"

MSTI OG
MSTI OG

THE UNITED STATES IS A VERY LARGE COUNTRY

ABSmileBunch
ABSmileBunch

@Lobo @ABSmileBunch @ThtsaPaddlin @BIah Sure that makes sense, but where I come from we call them barbeque's too the grill is the cooking surface, but a barbeque is the whole device. Where I live now barbeque is a type of food and the cooking machine that I call a barbeque is referred to as a grill...So, you could reframe the comment and say that people in the south/midwest mistakenly refer to their food as a cooking machine and the cooking machine is only referred to by it's cooking surface...really, I'm just giving you a hard time, I've spent enough time in different regions to know that these cultural variations are somewhat arbitrary. Maybe the etymology of the term barbeque can give us some insight into the original thing that the term referred to, but I doubt many people will be convinced to change what they call something based on the preferred use in a different region.

Interestingly, the thing we call sweet potatoes and/or yams in North America is neither a potato or a yam, yet they'll always be sweet potatoes or yams to us. 

Lobo
Lobo

@ABSmileBunch @Lobo @ThtsaPaddlin @BIah Yeah, because it's a grill.  There's no such thing as a barbecue really, barbecue is the style of cooking, not an actual thing you cook meat with