Dodgers Depth Chart Analysis: Coming up Short at Shortstop

Egads, shortstop. The one position I have been dreading writing on since I conceived of this multi-part project earlier this month. It is one of the toughest positions to fill at the minor-league level, chock full of athletes with a variety of issues that will probably keep them from ever attaining the status of everyday player at the big-league level. Many shortstops in the minors end up playing second, or becoming utility guys, or just disappearing into the netherworld of the Quad-A player who bounces from team to team, city to city.

Will Dee ever translate his speed and other tools into being a solid, stable, big-league shortstop? (Photo courtesy of the Albuquerque Isotopes)

Will Dee Gordon ever translate his speed and other tools into being a solid, stable, big-league shortstop? (Photo courtesy of the Albuquerque Isotopes)

Even going to Asia is usually not an option for these guys, as Japanese and Korean teams almost universally keep domestic players at all the up-the-middle positions. The life of a vagabond minor-league shortstop is a lonely one, usually without much pay and even less stability. Still, teams have to fill out their full-season rosters, so someone has to play there.

For that, teams usually prize defense at an average level when seeking out shortstops for their Single-A through Triple-A teams. Guys who can swing a bat, too, usually do not stay in the minors long. A total of 13 MLB teams last season employed a foreign-born player at shortstop for the majority of the season. The American-born shortstop is often referred to as an endangered species, but in truth they still constituted the majority last season.

Nonetheless, the elite shortstop is a prize possession. Just ask anybody who plays fantasy baseball, the good ones go fast in the draft, even though there might be outfielders, first basemen, and pitchers who offer up more statistical value.

The Dodgers, with their lack of international spending, are not surprisingly quite short at shortstop down on the farm. Things are so thin that right now there is no obvious starter at Double-A Chattanooga after Jake Lemmerman was traded to the Cardinals for Skip Schumaker.

So read on for what little there is down on the Dodgers’ farm at the upper levels, while taking note of some talent forming up in the lower levels.

Dee Gordon: Pretty much everybody knows Gordon’s pluses and minuses. He can make the spectacular play with his tremendous range and cannon arm … but he often botches the routine play. He has game-changing speed … but does not hit much at all and he can’t take a walk to get on base. Plenty has been written about his transition from basketball to baseball as a teenager, his raw tools, his baseball bloodlines, etc. The Dodgers have had the opportunity to trade him, but for now it looks like he’s staying put, though it seems almost certain he opens with the Isotopes barring an injury to Hanley Ramirez or the complete implosion of Luis Cruz.

Justin Sellers: In a perfect world, Sellers would be the Dodgers’ late-inning defensive replacement, a slick fielder with a good, accurate arm but not much of a bat. The Dodgers, though, under Ned Colletti, have shied away from handing such responsibilities to young players, instead acquiring the Nick Puntos of the world. Sellers is clinging to a 40-man roster spot by the skin of his teeth, and he could get bumped off should someone else get signed to a big-league deal or one of the non-roster invitees forces his way to Los Angeles. For now, Sellers projects to serve as a utility player at Albuquerque, on tap for a call-up in the event of an injury to someone on the bench or a short-term injury to someone like Ramirez, Cruz or Mark Ellis.

Osvaldo Martinez: The Dodgers acquired him from the White Sox last summer for depth purposes. He is not on the 40-man but opted to stay with Los Angeles this off-season. Martinez hit .255/.296/.275 in 102 at-bats with the Isotopes and just .203/.246/.244 overall last year. He was once a high-average hitter with some speed but little pop, earning him the lofty status of being Baseball America’s No. 5 Marlins prospect after the 2010 season. Now he just seems to be a good glove off the bench, searching for the swing that left him. With plenty of other middle infield types in the mix for an Isotopes roster spot, Martinez is not guaranteed to still be with the organization come April.

Alfredo Amezaga: The ex-Marlin has returned to the Dodgers organization after playing in one game with Chattanooga in 2010 before missing the rest of the season due to problems with his surgically-repaired knee. A super utility player, Amezaga can play second, short, third, and the outfield. He will compete for a bench spot with Albuquerque after hitting .274/.336/.372 with six home runs, 42 RBI, and 12 stolen bases at Iowa (Cubs) last year.

Miguel Rojas: Another free-agent signee, the soon-to-be 24-year-old comes over from the Reds organization where he hit just .199/.263/.224 between Triple-A Louisville and Double-A Pensacola last season. He has played the vast majority of his career (460 games) at shortstop with a reputation as a decent defender who simply cannot hit (.234/.301/.282 career). Yet with so few options, the Dodgers might not have much choice but start him at Chattanooga. One would have to hope that the organization takes a long look at Cuban defector Aledmys Diaz, who is a free agent, and could slot in nicely with the Lookouts.

Alexis Aguilar: One of the Three Shortstops of the Apocalypse at Rancho Cucamonga last year, the 21-year-old Venezuelan hit an unimpressive .255/.301/.313 with one home run and 15 RBI for the Quakes. With Charlie Mirabal (.191/.240/.245) having been released, Aguilar figures to get a shot at moving up to Chattanooga by default and competing with Rojas for the Lookouts’ starting gig. Fans in Southeastern Tennessee might want to close their eyes for the season. Aguilar has played 126 games at shortstop, 50 at second base and 24 at third base in his career, so at worst he is a utility player with average defensive skills.

Casio Grider: The final member of the aforementioned TSA at RC, Grider hit a dismal .217/.286/.329 with two home runs and 11 RBI. At 25, he is getting awfully old for what he is, basically a utility player who spent more time at shortstop last year than second base, his previous position. Grider was a 14th-round pick out of Newberry College in 2009, marking him as purely an organizational player who hopes to move up to Double-A and keep his career going at least one more season.

Darnell Sweeney: Caution, this young man might actually have a future beyond the minors. A nice sleeper pick, the Dodgers selected him in the 13th round of last year’s draft out of Central Florida. Sweeney responded by hitting .294/.374/.430 with five home runs, 33 RBI and 27 stolen bases between Great Lakes and Ogden. John Sickels ranked him No. 18 among Dodgers’ prospects over at Minor League Ball. Dustin Nosler had him one spot higher at No. 17 on his list at Feelin’ Kinda Blue. Keep a close eye on Sweeney’s development, which will likely continue this year at Rancho Cucamonga. He lived up to expectations defensively, but keeping up his lofty debut hitting stats will be the challenge as he faces more advanced pitching.

Pedro Guerrero, Justin Boudreaux, Delvis Morales: Meet the trio of utility guys who actually appeared in more games at shortstop than other positions in 2012. Guerrero, no relation to the former Dodger, hit .220/.265/.387 with 10 home runs. He is a 24-year-old Dominican with no previous showing of any power (career .361 slugging). Boudreaux was the Dodgers’ 14th-round pick out of Southeastern Louisiana in 2011; he hit .201/.304/.312 with three homers and 36 RBI last year. Morales is a 22-year-old Dominican who hit .261/.341/.328 with zero homers, 23 RBI and 12 stolen bases. They will battle for bench spots at Rancho and Great Lakes.

Corey Seager: The crown jewel of Dodgers minor-league infielders, Seager may seem destined for third base but I will list him as a shortstop until the day he stops playing there. The 2012 first-round draft pick is one of the organization’s top prospects, ranking as high as No. 2 (Minor League Ball) on the preseason lists. Seager hit an impressive .309/.383/.520 with eight homers and 33 RBI at Ogden, going up against mostly older competition. The younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, Corey should move up to Great Lakes. At 6-3, 195, he is built like a third baseman, but there is always the chance he sticks at shortstop, with a big-league ETA of 2015 or 2016, at which point he could fill a major hole for the Dodgers.

Jesmuel Valentin: The son of former Dodger Jose Valentin, Jesmuel was drafted in the supplemental first round last summer. He showed decent, if not great, defensive skills in the Arizona League, while batting .211/.352/.316 with two homers and 18 RBI. Valentin’s bat has a ways to go, though the fact he drew 35 walks versus 24 strikeouts is encouraging. FanGraphs ranked him as the Dodgers’ No. 5 prospect, though most other lists put him in the 12-13 range. He could end up at second base or in a utility role down the line, but the Dodgers will try to keep him at shortstop as long as possible, hoping his bat develops and defense solidifies at shortstop. Valentin should hang back in extended spring training until Ogden’s season starts in late June.

So that wraps up shortstop, which is bleak at the top and somewhat promising down below. There are no guarantees for the Dodgers, much less any other team, but in Seager, Sweeney, and Valentin, at least there are some options coming along. The key to the present will likely be in whether or not Gordon can ever refine his tools, while one of the three of Seager/Sweeney/Valentin develops into a long-range replacement.

Next up, third base, where the hot corner is barely even spitting out a wisp of smoke.

2012 Dodgers in Review #9: SS Dee Gordon

.228/.280/.281 330pa 1hr 32sb -1.1 fWAR D-

2012 in brief: Proved woefully overmatched on both sides of the ball before missing two months with thumb injury and losing his job to Hanley Ramirez & (indirectly) Luis Cruz.

2013 status: Under team control, but depending on winter moves and level of faith in Cruz, Gordon may be just as likely to spend his season in Albuquerque as in Los Angeles.


Yikes. I mean… yikes. I’m suppose there’s a way that Dee Gordon‘s 2012 could have gone worse, but short of a felony, I’m not entirely sure how. That’s even including the fact that we never really had high expectations, other than praying that Gordon’s relatively decent September 2011 was the start of something special.

It’s important to remember how different the situation was for this team coming into the season, of course. This was intended to be a transitional year while the ownership handover was completed, and if a raw talent like Gordon had to learn on the job while that happened, so be it. We expected some tough times at the plate and some silly mistakes in the field, and merely hoped that his electrifying speed would balance it out enough to stay afloat while he continued to improve.

It didn’t quite happen, of course, and it took only 13 games for the blogosphere to start grumbling about how awful Gordon looked. That post wasn’t the first time we’d grumbled about Don Mattingly insisting on hitting Gordon leadoff – because speed, don’t you know – and it wouldn’t be the last, as this post from May 14 shows:

I agree with Mattingly when he says there’s no perfect option to lead off, but I also know that the lack of a perfect alternative is not an excuse to continue on with one of the worst possible options. The Dodgers have managed to make it this far with a leadoff hitter who can’t get on base, but that’s only going to last so long – especially if the lineup is weakened if Kemp is absent for any length of time due to his hamstring injury. I still have a lot of hope for Dee Gordon, and I think he can help this team. Just not in the leadoff spot, and not right now. The time is overdue to make a move.

Gordon was hitting .211/.250/.273 at that point, and it didn’t really get better. Later that week we began hearing increased speculation that Gordon would actually be demoted, and while he avoided that fate – in no small part to the endless stream of injuries destroying team depth – he was benched for three days in mid-May to try to give him a break to clear his head.

When he returned, Mattingly made the wise choice to put him at the bottom of the order, and for a while, it seemed to help, as this post from June 3 illustrates:

Dee Gordon‘s demotion to the bottom of the lineup lasted 11 games, during which he hit a much-improved .308/.341/.333, though he drew just two walks in 42 plate appearances while the Dodgers went 4-7. Apparently, that’s enough to return him to to the top of the lineup, as he’ll be leading off today as Tony Gwynn gets bumped down to eighth. Personally, I don’t think Gordon has all of a sudden become the leadoff hitter this club needs, but it’s hard to suggest that Gwynn’s .324 OBP was the cure either, so I don’t mind Don Mattingly trying to shake things up again.

Several days later, Gordon drove in two and made a great defensive play in Philadelphia on the one-year anniversary of his debut, and we hoped that he’d turned a corner. No, the stat line wasn’t great, and yes, the defense was still poor. But Gordon had hit in 15 of 17 at that point, and the Dodgers of mid-June were still the group who hadn’t started making earth-shattering trades and were still waiting on the disabled list to clear up. Gordon was a problem, but there were many problems, and for him at least, there was hope, finally, along with a particular highlight when he teamed with fellow famous son Gwynn to help the Dodgers walk off on Father’s Day.

After that game on June 17, Gordon’s line stood at .236/.286/.285. That’s still awful, to be sure, but it was the highest it had been in more than six weeks; unfortunately, it would be the high point of his season, since he hit merely .203 over the next 16 games before being injured. A particular lowlight came during the forgettable road trip to Oakland on June 21:

It’s going to be easy to blame Dee Gordon & Don Mattingly for squandering a ninth-inning rally – fun, too! – that squashed any chance they might have had of avoiding a sweep at the hands of Oakland, and we can also look at the defensive confusion between Juan Uribe & Josh Lindblom which allowed a bunt ground ball with men on first and second and no outs to turn into bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the ninth.

And believe me, the Dodgers did not deserve to win this game, in no small part thanks to Gordon. After Matt Treanor led off the ninth with a walk against Oakland closer Ryan Cook, Gordon entered. He attempted to bunt, and while it may shock you, that’s a decision I’m fine with; Gordon isn’t a good hitter, and the likelihood of him successfully managing a hit – he went 0-12 in this series – was so low that bunting Treanor to second for Elian Herrera & Andre Ethier made sense. Here’s the problem, however: Dee Gordon, for all his speed, cannot bunt. His first attempt was foul. His second attempt was foul. His third attempt was fair, but wasn’t placed well enough to allow Treanor to advance, as third baseman Brandon Inge gunned down the backup catcher at second. With Gordon now on first with one out, everyone in the state knew he’d be attempting to steal; his jump, however, was poor, and Oakland catcher Derek Norris – in his MLB debut, no less – threw him out. As I joked on Twitter, it felt like Gordon was responsible for 42 outs and -274.228 WPA in the inning alone.

On Independence Day, Gordon walked (!) in Cincinnati and stole second, then third. It was, perhaps, one of his more impressive performances of the season. Yet while sliding into third, he jammed his thumb and had to leave the game in pain. I’m well aware this is gratuitous, but it’s at this point that I can’t help but share something from way back in March:

Remember this when Dee Gordon lands on the disabled list with a broken finger at some point this year:

“After singling leading off the bottom of the first inning on Friday against the Rangers, the Dodgers’ Dee Gordon attempted to steal second base with a feet-first slide and was called out by umpire Mike Muchlinski.

“I’m not doing that again,” said Gordon. “I’ve been working on not sliding headfirst, so I thought I was going to be safe and figured I would try it. And I was safe. I was like, ‘Really?’ That’s what I get for thinking.

“Feet first? I’m over that. I gotta do what feels natural.”

Increased risk of injury because of a possibly blown call in a spring training game in mid-March? Got it.

Yeah, I’m the worst. What can I say. I hate headfirst slides, and that’s why. Gordon ended up having surgery to repair his thumb, and that was essentially the end of his season.

As it turned out, Gordon’s absence ended up being something of a turning point for the Dodgers, as it allowed Luis Cruz (and later Hanley Ramirez) to take over shortstop and provide greatly increased production on both sides of the ball. Gordon missed more than two months and when he returned in September, he was almost exclusively a pinch-runner, being allowed to bat only three times.

Taking his (half) season as a whole, the end results are astounding. Of the 265 players who had at least 300 PA last season, only one – one! – had a worse wOBA than Gordon’s .253, and that was the .252 Seattle’s Brendan Ryan put up. The major difference there, of course, is that Ryan was arguably the best defensive shortstop in baseball; Gordon, by at least one measure, was one of the worst.

Gordon’s healthy once again, but his future is cloudy at best. He’s currently playing winter ball in the Dominican League, leading off and playing shortstop for Licey, where he’s teammates with fellow Dodger prospects Tim Federowicz & Brian Cavazos-Galvez. With Ramirez & Cruz clearly ahead of him on the depth chart and Nick Punto, Juan Uribe, & Jerry Hairston also around – plus the open question of whether the Dodgers will acquire a shortstop – the roster is quite crowded. Between how bad he was for the first half of the year and how much time he missed in the second half, I think it’s clear that the more appropriate scenario is for him to return to Albuquerque in 2013 and spend as much time as needs to fine-tune his game on both sides of the ball.

That’s not the same thing as saying we’ve given up on Gordon, because I haven’t. The talent is clearly there, and he’s still only 24 years old. And no, he shouldn’t move to second base, which seems to be a popular thought these days. His biggest strengths are his strong arm and ability to cover ground, neither of which are as valuable at second. No, he’s not a defensively capable shortstop right now, but nor is he a big-league hitter, so it makes no sense to try to ask him to also learn a new position while getting him to hit.

Gordon can still be a big-league shortstop. He certainly wasn’t in 2012, and he probably won’t be in 2013. But that’s fine. Leave him alone in Triple-A and let him play, and hopefully the talent can shine through.


Next up! Hanley Ramirez, we see you!

Why Are We Worried About What To Do With Dee Gordon?

Photo via Malingering on Flickr. Hey, that’s a good nickname for Juan Uribe.

If there’s one question I’m getting more often than any other right now – other than, of course, “Luis Cruz, first unanimous election to the Hall of Fame or simply a first-ballot guy?” – it’s “what are the Dodgers going to do when Dee Gordon returns?” In fact, it’s the headline of a story on right now.

To which I generally reply, “who cares?”

It’s a question I get a lot because no one knows for sure whether Hanley Ramirez is a shortstop or a third baseman in Los Angeles long-term, and despite Cruz’ impressive contributions third base is continually an unsettled mess for the club. The original plan, it seemed, was to allow Ramirez to play short in Gordon’s absence and slide back to third when Dee returned. That would allow Jerry Hairston to get the majority of time at third base, Cruz to go back to the bench, and Juan Uribe to be fired into the sun. Believe me, the original plan was not for Cruz to play every day, because if it was, he’d still be at shortstop, where he is clearly a superior defender to Ramirez.

But now Ramirez is hitting and apparently happy at shortstop, and with Cruz hitting well (along with Hairston being injured again) he’s become an every day fixture at the hot corner, having started six of nine games there since Hairston went down (and one of the three he didn’t, he was at second base) along with 36 of the last 43 overall. So you have Ramirez crushing the ball, and Cruz playing well… and people are apparently wondering how the Dodgers are going to squeeze in an injured player who was ranked, by some measures, as a bottom-six defender and a bottom-six hitter this year. Combine those into fWAR and you get the third-worst player in baseball. (I will admit here that it warms my cold, jaded heart that the wildly overrated Michael Young & Jeff Francoeur are the two worse than him.)

This is not meant to bash Gordon, whom I still believe is talented enough to be the long-term solution at shortstop. Half a bad season from a raw guy who is still only 24 and who most of us would agree was rushed to the bigs in the first place isn’t enough to give up on him, at least for me, and I do see some people giving him the “June 2012 Chad Billingsley” treatment already, which is silly. There’s a really good discussion to be had about Gordon being back in the starting lineup in 2013, given his potential and the fact that we have no idea what to make of Cruz right now.

Yet as it always seems to lately, this question does go back to Cruz. Sure, I’m open to the idea that he’s the next Casey Blake or A.J. Ellis, not putting it together until their late 20s. It’s just that both of those guys had success in the minors, and I can’t shake Cruz’ .296 OBP across 12 seasons and not think that like we saw with Elian Herrera, Cindarella is turning back into a pumpkin at some point… or however that story goes. Now I’ll admit that it hasn’t happened yet, and Cruz has been excellent for this team. Obviously Ramirez isn’t sitting, and it’s hard to argue that Gordon is an upgrade on Cruz on either side of the ball right now. For a team in a tight playoff race, that’s not a switch you make.

Besides, from a purely logistical standpoint, I’m not sure the question really deserves the amount of thought it appears to be getting. Gordon has only just been cleared to begin baseball activities in the last few days and hasn’t even played in any rehab games yet. By the time he’s ready to return, it’ll be September, so there’s not going to be any roster issues, and it might not even be September 1 if Triple-A Albuquerque extends their season with a playoff run and it’s determined that regular playing time is best for him after a long layoff.

When he comes back, if Cruz is still producing, you have a killer pinch-running threat and occasional shortstop for September. (I shouldn’t have to say that you don’t even think about the playoff roster until the Dodgers actually make it there.) If Cruz falls apart, you still don’t necessarily put Gordon back in, if Hairston is healthy at that point.

I don’t want to say that Cruz has “taken” Gordon’s job, because I don’t think it would have happened if Gordon hadn’t hurt himself, and it’s foolish to think about 2013 right now. But as much as I like Gordon and his future, if you’re trying to win it all in 2012, there’s no reason to put him back in the lineup every day, not when the Dodgers are finally getting left-side production, and it’s not a question that really even needs answering right now.

Dodgers Top Reds, But Have They Lost Dee Gordon?

From the second inning on, Cincinnati starter Mike Leake was absolutely dominant, allowing just two Dodger hits over his final six frames. Unfortunately for Leake, the first inning counts too, and a leadoff double by Dee Gordon followed by three consecutive singles and a Zack Cozart throwing error put three Dodger runs on the board. That’s all Aaron Harang would need against his old mates, allowing only a Devin Mesoraco solo homer to spoil an otherwise solid seven innings in front of a holiday crowd of over 40,000.

Not to shortchange Harang for his good work, but unfortunately I think we all know that’s not what the story of this game is going to be. Gordon led off against Bray in the eighth with a walk, then stole second. On ball four to Luis Cruz, he stole third as well, but was immediately replaced by Mark Ellis. While that seemed like a nice opportunity to get the returning Ellis a standing ovation, it quickly became clear that Gordon had injured his hand or finger while sliding into Cincinnati third baseman Todd Frazier or the base itself.

The lesson, as always, is that sliding head first is incredibly dangerous, and I’ll never understand why players insist on doing it all the time; though I can’t seem to find it right now, I’m almost positive I’ve called Gordon out for that here before. Replays looked to indicate that Gordon’s thumb may have been bent awkwardly, and while we don’t have a prognosis yet, I have to admit that it didn’t look good. If it’s broken, that’s probably at least six weeks.

If Gordon is hurt – and again, we don’t know the extent yet – all I can do is just throw my hands up and laugh. You think that things are finally getting better, that Ellis is back, that Matt Kemp & Javy Guerra are close, that even Andre Ethier‘s oblique injury isn’t as bad as it could have been… and now in the span of three days you’ve see Juan Uribe twist an ankle, Todd Coffey lost for the season with Tommy John surgery, and whatever Gordon did to himself tonight. If Gordon does hit the DL, that means that the only Dodger starters from the Opening Day lineup who survived the first half of the season were A.J. Ellis & James Loney. It’d be funny if it weren’t so absolutely absurd.

If Gordon is out, that means your shortstop situation is some combination of Elian Herrera & Cruz, assuming Uribe & Jerry Hairston aren’t really considered options there. Since I’m guessing 98% of Dodger fans hadn’t heard of either one on May 1, that’s a pretty bad situation, despite the surprisingly vocal contingent of Cruz fans, which leads to hilarious retorts like this:

While you can argue that Gordon had been poor and being without him isn’t a huge blow, it does throw another wrench into this team’s plans. With tonight’s win, they moved back into first place in the NL West, so they’re unquestionably buyers. But they may need a shortstop now. And a third baseman, since Uribe is awful. And a first baseman, since Loney is awful. And a left fielder, since neither Bobby Abreu nor Herrera is looking anything like they did in May. And a starting pitcher, since Nathan Eovaldi is struggling and Ted Lilly isn’t close to returning. How do you fill all those holes? But when you’re in contention, how do you not?

I’ll say this: for a team which has been really, really boring to watch recently, they’re managing to keep things incredibly interesting.

(Update: Eric Stephen reports Gordon’s thumb is dislocated, but not broken. He’ll have an MRI tomorrow.)

Hopeless Dodgers Hapless in Defeat

Help us, Obi-Wan Kemp-obi, you're our only hope

It’s going to be easy to blame Dee Gordon & Don Mattingly for squandering a ninth-inning rally – fun, too! – that squashed any chance they might have had of avoiding a sweep at the hands of Oakland, and we can also look at the defensive confusion between Juan Uribe & Josh Lindblom which allowed a bunt ground ball with men on first and second and no outs to turn into bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the ninth.

Those are each valid concerns, but while they may be the “sexy” takeaway from this game, let’s not let them overshadow the real issue here: that 29-year-old Travis Blackley, who hadn’t pitched in the bigs prior to this year since 2007, who returned to the bigs this year with San Francisco only to be DFA’d after four lousy relief appearances, who hadn’t pitched more than 5.2 innings in a start before last week since 2004, shut down the Dodgers on just three hits and 87 pitches over eight one-run innings. If you can’t hit off a guy like that, well, you don’t deserve to win.

And believe me, the Dodgers did not deserve to win this game, in no small part thanks to Gordon. After Matt Treanor led off the ninth with a walk against Oakland closer Ryan Cook, Gordon entered. He attempted to bunt, and while it may shock you, that’s a decision I’m fine with; Gordon isn’t a good hitter, and the likelihood of him successfully managing a hit – he went 0-12 in this series – was so low that bunting Treanor to second for Elian Herrera & Andre Ethier made sense. Here’s the problem, however: Dee Gordon, for all his speed, cannot bunt. His first attempt was foul. His second attempt was foul. His third attempt was fair, but wasn’t placed well enough to allow Treanor to advance, as third baseman Brandon Inge gunned down the backup catcher at second. With Gordon now on first with one out, everyone in the state knew he’d be attempting to steal; his jump, however, was poor, and Oakland catcher Derek Norris – in his MLB debut, no less – threw him out. As I joked on Twitter, it felt like Gordon was responsible for 42 outs and -274.228 WPA in the inning alone.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Clayton Kershaw was excellent, also allowing one run and three hits over eight innings. But if this team can’t hit – and Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, Jerry Hairston, Tony Gwynn, Juan Rivera, & Juan Uribe are all absolutely not hitting – it’s really not going to matter. So long, Oakland. See you in hell.