2011 Midseason Grades: Offense


The All-Star break is here, and that means it’s everyone’s favorite time of the year: midseason grades. It’s been a tough year for the Dodgers on and off the field, though we do of course have the pleasure of a few exceptionally bright spots. As always, the grades are in relation to what was reasonably expected of the player at the beginning of the season, not in comparison to other players in the bigs. Otherwise, Jose Bautista would get an A, and no one else would get above a Q. Fewer than 50 plate appearances or 10 innings pitched gets you an incomplete.

All stats are via baseball-reference. Today we’ll do hitters, and before the break is over we’ll get to pitchers, management, and one new kind of review. As always, these letter grades are subjective opinions and meant more for fun than anything. Except for Juan Uribe’s. There’s nothing fun about Juan Uribe.

Catchers

Rod Barajas D+ (.220/.262/.385 8hr 0.2 WAR)
And right off the bat, our rating system is being tested. Do I give Barajas an F, because he’s not any good, or a C, because we never expected him to be any good? I’ll go with a D+, because even though he’s underperforming his own mediocre career stats, he was still second on the team in homers until the final game before the break. I suppose that says a lot more about the Dodgers than it does about him, though. Due to the low bar for offense from catching in the bigs, he’s actually slightly above replacement, though it’s hard to look at the 46/8 K/BB without getting a little ill. He’s due to be activated from the disabled list on Friday, allowing us to start up the always fun “Navarro or Ellis?” game again. (It’ll be Navarro sticking, of course.)

Dioner Navarro F (.183/.234/.287 2hr -0.1 WAR)
You don’t need me to go back and really find all of the articles I wrote over the winter asking why he was worth a $1m major-league contract and why he was guaranteed a spot over the likely superior A.J. Ellis, right? Navarro came in with the lowest of expectations, yet after missing the first month with an oblique injury, has somehow still managed to underperform. Despite that, he still manages to come up with the game on the line in the ninth inning nearly every single night. The world is a twisted place.

Fun fact: Navarro is the only player in history with the name “Dioner”. Fun fact #2: he’s still looking for his first hit against a lefty in fourteen tries this season.

A. J. Ellis (C) (.222/.364/.222 0hr -0.1 WAR)
I realize I’ve heaped far more praise on a 30-year-old minor league lifer with absolutely no power than he really deserves, but the Dodger catching situation is dire, and his long minor-league record and short major league stints show an above-average ability to get on base, which is exactly what this lineup is missing. Defensively, I won’t insult your intelligence by citing CERA, but it’s hard to think it’s a coincidence that Chad Billingsley’s mid-season slump turned around precisely when Ellis started being his regular catcher. Too bad he’s almost certainly headed back for Barajas on Friday.

Hector Gimenez (inc.) (.143/.143/.143 0hr -0.1 WAR)
I would like to say something witty or insightful about Hector Gimenez, but that infers that I have absolutely any recollection of him as a Dodger whatsoever. Pass.

Infielders

James Loney (C-) (.268/.311/.342 4hr -0.5 WAR)
I feel weird giving Loney a C-, because his line and a grade in that range suggest that he was his normal mediocre self all season. Far from it; by early May, he was the most hated man in LA since OJ and we were all writing articles about how bad his season was going to be on a historical level. Since then, he’s basically been the best non-Kemp hitter on the team. That doesn’t mean he’s good – hooray, a .751 OPS from a 1B since April 26! – and again, that says a lot about the rest of the players on this team, but nothing tells you more about the plight of the 2011 Dodgers than the fact that their punchless overpaid first baseman is no longer even close to being the biggest issue here.

Jamey Carroll (A+) (.297/.368/.366 0hr 1.6 WAR)
Last season, Carroll had a .718 OPS and was largely hailed as the team MVP for stepping in to cover for Rafael Furcal at shortstop for nearly the entire season. For a 36-year-old career backup who had played in more than 113 just once, it was quite the impressive feat. More impressive? The fact that he’s exceeding that this year, currently with a .734 OPS. In a lower run scoring environment, that’s good for a 111 OPS+. Once again, the team has been crushed by injuries. Once again, Jamey Carroll has risen to the occasion and more. I’m not sure what the future holds for Carroll in Los Angeles – this is the last year of his contract, and unsurprisingly teams are showing trade interest – but he has consistently outperformed expectations. I’ll miss him when he’s gone.

Fun Carroll fact: since you know I have no use for RBI, regard this as more of a fun statistical quirk than any sort of value judgement, but he has somehow managed to step to the plate 311 times and drive in just 8 runners. I suppose that’s what happens when you don’t hit homers and you’re either batting leadoff (behind the pitcher and the horrible bottom of the lineup) or 8th (behind low-OBP guys like Uribe, Barajas, and Loney).

Aaron Miles
(A) (.318/.337/.381 1hr 1.1 WAR)
Credit where credit is due: Aaron Miles has been a really, really nice part of this team. I hardly need to remind you about all the jokes we made at his expense when he was signed and in the spring, but after being forced into far more playing time than anyone expected, he’s responded by becoming arguably the 4th-best hitter on the team. (Like Barajas and his homers, that says a lot more about the other hitters on the club, but still). We expected absolutely nothing from him – less than nothing, perhaps – and not only has he stepped up where needed, he led the NL in batting average in June.

It’s not all that simple, of course. .300 average or not, he’s not walking and he provides zero power, so his OPS is just barely over .700, and his .344 BABIP, 35 points over his career average, seems unlikely to hold. So let’s not get too caught up in praise for Miles to pretend he’s actually, you know, good. But for a non-roster guy who was something like the 8th infielder entering the season? Well done, Aaron. Well done.

Hey, you think we can sucker some team into trading for him at the deadline?

Ivan DeJesus, Jr. (inc.) (.188/.235/.188 0hr -0.5 WAR)
So far, DeJesus looks to be this year’s winner of the “Blake DeWitt Memorial LA-to-ABQ Frequent Flyer” award, because he saw three different stints with the big club, including the pleasure of flying all the way to Cincinnati for the pleasure of one pinch-hitting appearance in June. That being the case, you can’t really judge his big-league performance too much, though he also didn’t do a lot to change my perception of him as a bench player at best. Back in ABQ, he’s hitting .304, which is nice, though a .758 OPS in that environment isn’t encouraging.

Fun fact: for a guy whose name isn’t exactly “John Smith“, Ivan DeJesus is neither the best Ivan or the best DeJesus to play in the bigs this year.

Juan Uribe (oh holy good lord, F, and I don’t just mean the letter grade) (.207/.273/.306 4hr 0.4 WAR)
Uribe has been so bad that there’s an entire Tumblr dedicated to how sad he looks and makes us feel. He’s so bad that when an obviously fantastical rumor popped up for about five seconds about how the Dodgers might be looking to send him back to San Francisco, we jumped on it even though we knew it was BS, just for the small amount of hope it brought. He’s been so bad that he had a lousy April (.247/.303/.420) and hasn’t come close to even matching that since. He’s been so bad that of all the players in the bigs with at least 200 plate appearances, only three have a lower TAv than him. He’s been so bad that he has just one homer since April turned into May, and even that came off Brad Penny, so I feel like he was just trolling us. But hey, not like we have to stare at him for 2.5 more years or anything.

The funny part is, he’s actually been so good in the field that it pushes him above replacement level. That 0.4 breaks down into -0.4 oWAR and 0.8 dWAR. It doesn’t make him a good player, and it doesn’t justify the contract, but it’s something. I suppose that something should probably be enough to get him more than an F, but… no.

Rafael Furcal F (.185/.227/.228 1hr -0.5 WAR)
How do you even judge Furcal at this point? It can’t be on health, because he’s managed to end up on the disabled list twice more this year (though at least it wasn’t his back this time). It’s hard to do so on production, since he’s constantly either just about to go on the disabled list or just coming back from it. I suppose the fact that he’s not in a full body cast is something, but that line above… yeesh. Anyone who’s still dreaming of trading him to someone at the deadline probably needs to wake up because unfortunately, Furcal’s best days are behind him. As, probably, are his days of being able to obtain health insurance when he’s no longer a ballplayer.

Dee Gordon C+ (.232/.250/.280 0hr 0.0 WAR)
We all knew Gordon was recalled far too soon, and it showed: he was overmatched at the plate and made some critical errors in the field. He also brought the kind of excitement that we haven’t seen in years, if ever. If you have any doubt about that, just head on over to this GIF-heavy recap of the amazing feats he pulled off in just a single game. A lot of players end up with 0.0 WAR because they’ve been boring or barely playable, and haven’t contributed anything either positive or negative. That’s not the case with Gordon; he did plenty of things that hurt the team, but he made up for them with a ton of positives. That’s how it all evens out, and for a raw 23-year-old, yeah, I’ll take that.

Juan Castro A (.286/.333/.286 0hr 0.0 WAR)
Castro gave us the greatest gift of all, retiring this week before subjecting us to a fifth stint as a Dodger. That alone gets the man an A.

Casey Blake D- (.243/.346/.386 4hr 0.3 WAR)
Things the 37-year-old Blake has been on the disabled list for this season: sore oblique, infected elbow, pinched nerve in neck, Legionnaire’s disease, athlete’s thumb, bone-itis, ringworm infestation, osteoporosis. Also, he narrowly avoided a brush with the law for continually yelling at those damned kids to get off his lawn.

Casey Blake is old.

Russ Mitchell (inc.) (.115/.258/.269 1hr 0.1 WAR)
Mitchell has 74 MLB plate appearances in his short career. He has nine hits, and though one was a game-tying homer in the 9th inning against the White Sox earlier this year, that’s good for an OPS+ of 29. That’s an unfairly small sample size, of course, but he’s also hitting .244 in ABQ right now. Russ Mitchell: nope.

Outfielders

Jerry Sands (C-) (.200/.294/.328 2hr -0.4 WAR)
Like Gordon, Sands was probably promoted too soon, and like Gordon, he didn’t really provide results, but did provide hope for the future. All of the stories we heard about his maturity and plate approach seemed to be true, yet so far it hasn’t translated into production. Sands is crushing the ball once again in ABQ, and with the Dodger offense still stagnant, we’ll see him back up in blue before very long.

Tony Gwynn (B-) (.256/.316/.326 0hr 0.6 WAR)
It’s been something of an interesting season for Gwynn. He was his normal Gwynn-like self in April (i.e. bad), hitting .264/.291/.377 before going completely off the rails in May: he managed just two hits all month and received only four starts, as Sands took over the bulk of the left field work. At that point, with his batting average below .200 and with nothing to his name other than two game-saving catches, we started wondering how long he’d stick on the roster, especially when he didn’t get into any of the first three games in June. On June 4, he entered in the 8th inning and got two hits in a game that went 11 innings. He got a hit the next game, and the next, and before you knew it he’d hit in 7 of the first 8 games of the month. It would get better – since June 26, which was two weeks ago yesterday, he’s had five multihit games, including three with three and one with four. Now that Sands and Gordon are both in the minors, he’s effectively taken over as both the starting left fielder and leadoff hitter. Because he owns the only plus glove in what is a subpar defensive outfield, this was the outcome we’d always wanted. Now let’s see if he can really keep it up.

Marcus Thames
F (.197/.243/.333 2hr -0.6 WAR)
Injured? Yep, twice, even if only one led to a DL stint. Poor on defense? You better believe it. Unproductive on offense? Well, the line above doesn’t lie, right? I sure hope he’s renting, not buying.

Jay Gibbons
F (.255/.323/.345 1hr -0.5 WAR)
Well, he got DFA’d and claimed by no one, placing him back in AAA, so it couldn’t have been that good of a first half, right? You want to feel bad because his vision problems really derailed last season’s feel-good story right from the start… but then you remember he wasn’t really ever that good in the first place. The best part of that -0.5 WAR is that his oWAR is actually 0.1… meaning he’s really, really bad in the field.

JaMarcus Gwybbons, Jr. D-
Remember when the left field situation was going to be a nice trio between Gwynn, Thames, and Gibbons? Sheesh. Until Gwynn’s hot spurt over the last few weeks, they combined to offer absolutely nothing. Less than nothing, if you just went by WAR. At various points this season, we’ve made arguments for DFA’ing all three of them. Count this under “plans that were unlikely to work and then did, in fact, not work.”

Trent Oeltjen (inc.) (.265/.386/.441  1hr 0.6 WAR)
Hey, remember when Oeltjen went 4-4 with a homer in that 15-0 drubbing of Minnesota? That was rad, right? Unfortunately for him, he had 3 hits in 20 PA before that game, and just 2 hits in 20 PA since. 

Xavier Paul (inc.) (.273/.273/.273 0hr -0.1 WAR)
Paul’s ultimate contribution to the 2011 Dodgers is managing to grab a left field start before his departure, thus helping us push towards our ultimate goal of setting a record for most left fielders in a season. He’s got an 84 OPS+ for Pittsburgh since being picked up, though he’s improved his OPS in each full month there.

Jamie Hoffmann (inc.) (.000/.000/.000 0hr -0.2 WAR)
The man got four plate appearances. Let’s not infer too much from that. I still think he could be a pretty useful fourth outfielder in the bigs, as he’s a well-regarded defender having another high-OBP season in the minors, this time with a little pop.

Eugenio Velez (inc.) (.000/.000/.000 0hr -0.2 WAR)

Baron Ironglove von Pickoff. Still can’t believe he’s a Dodger. Or a major leaguer. Or a human being.

Matt Kemp (A+++) (.313/.398/.584 22hr 27sb 5.7 WAR)
I know you come here for informed baseball analysis and all (uh, I hope), and I could write 10,000 words on why Kemp is awesome. I will at some point, and 9,990 of those words will probably be about how I always said that he’d have a monstrous season this year, even as half the city was tearing him apart last year. There will be a time for that sort of insight, but for now, let’s leave it at this: 91 games into the season, Kemp has 5.7 WAR. That puts him on pace for about 9.9 WAR over the full season… a mark bettered by just two Dodgers in history. Yeah. His season is that good. Remember when everyone wanted to trade him, secure in the knowledge that he had neither the baseball IQ or work ethic to become a star? Yeah, me neither.

Matt Kemp is a shiny golden god.

Andre Ethier (B+) (.311/.383/.463 9hr 1.9 WAR)
Ethier, without question, represented one of the more difficult grades to give out. 30 game hitting streak? Yes, please. .383 OBP? Delicious. While his OPS is nearly 40 points off his 2008 career high, the lower offensive environment this year means that it’s good for a career-best 141 OPS+, so hooray for that. No, he’s not hitting lefties (.242/.282/.368), but he never hits lefties, so that’s not much of a surprise. All in all, it’s been a very solid year from one of the two main offensive threats this club has.

Yet… it feels like something is missing. Prior to his two-homer day yesterday, he’d hit just seven dingers, and his SLG is down for the third year in a row. It’s certainly not enough of a problem to criticize him, hence the good grade, and perhaps yesterday’s outburst was the start of something new. I just can’t help shaking the feeling that is very unpopular among the casual fans who love him so much: Ethier is a very good player, but not a superstar. We’ll need to keep that in mind when his contract is up. I don’t want to get too down on him, though: right now, he’s the second best player on this team, and that in itself is quite valuable.

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Don’t forget: Matt Kemp is in the Home Run Derby tonight and will be live tweeting @TheRealMattKemp throughout.

Eugenio Velez, Starting Left Fielder

As much as all of the off-field garbage has infuriated us, I must admit it makes for a lot of juicy blog material. You know what doesn’t, though? Game recaps of yet another depressing loss to yet another mediocre club. I will say this, however: not hitting for the punchless Eugenio Velez with the tying run on second and two outs in the ninth is not one of my favorite Don Mattingly choices. You had Trent Oeltjen and Aaron Miles each on the bench (yes, Miles was out after being hit by a pitch on Tuesday but was reportedly available), and each were better choices than Velez, who has yet to hit a ball out of the infield as a Dodger. I suppose it doesn’t really matter, though; at least it wasn’t Dioner Navarro.

Speaking of Velez, his start last night made him the 8th starting Dodger left fielder, meaning the Dodgers have nearly matched last year’s total of nine before the All-Star break, though since Casey Blake subbed there without starting, the overall total is indeed nine. Back in March, I asked just how many left fielders we might end up seeing this year:

Let’s assume for the moment that Gibbons, Tony Gwynn, and Marcus Thames are all but certain to see some time in left. With the extra spots opened up by the injuries to Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla, I think Paul probably does spend the first week or two with the big club, though I’d be shocked if he survives through April. Also on the out-of-options train is Hector Gimenez, who’s doing everything possible to make the club, and who we learned today is supposedly going to see some left field time of his own this week.

Let’s say that both Paul & Gimenez make the roster and make token appearances in LF, even if both are gone by May. That’ll be five possibles, but it won’t stop there. We all think Jerry Sands makes his debut this season, and that might extend to Trayvon Robinson as well. For veteran stopgaps in Albuquerque, there’s Oeltjen and Jamie Hoffmann, and possibly utility guy Eugenio Velez. Then there’s the non-zero possibility that infielders Carroll and Blake make cameos, and you could possibly see Andre Ethier shifted over should Gwynn actually grab the CF job and slide Matt Kemp to RF. That’s without even considering what happens if JaMarcus Gwybbons, Jr. fails completely before Sands is ready and the club is forced to go out and acquire someone new.

With the exception of Gimenez getting hurt and never making it out there, almost all of that has happened:

  G GS Inn Ch PO A E Fld%
Tony Gwynn 55 26 287.1 63 57 6 0 1.000
Jerry Sands 35 28 243.1 56 52 4 0 1.000
Marcus Thames 17 15 99.0 27 26 0 1 .963
Jay Gibbons 10 10 71.0 12 12 0 0 1.000
Trent Oeltjen 5 5 39.0 10 9 0 1 .900
Xavier Paul 5 2 19.0 6 5 1 0 1.000
Eugenio Velez 1 1 9.0 3 2 0 1 .667
Jamie Hoffmann 1 1 8.0 3 3 0 0 1.000
Casey Blake 2 0 3.1 0 0 0 0  
League Average               .985
Team Total 88 88 779.0 180 166 11 3 .983
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/7/2011.

As we learned in the spring, the club record is 15, set in 1985 and tied in 1987. Let’s set that record! Robinson seems almost certain to get out there later in the season, and Russ Mitchell is still a possibility. We can do it!

Back to Velez, I think Giants fans are enjoying having him in blue just a little bit too much, based on what they’ve been sending me.

Bay City Ball, 12/13/10:

Velez can’t hit. His swing is impossibly long, and he has no pitch recognition skills to speak of. Despite his speed, he can’t steal bases either. He is clearly a graduate of the Ruben Rivera School for Fast Guys Who Can’t Steal Good and Can’t Do Other Stuff Good Too. His defense at second is terrifying. He’s error prone, and has such a bad first step that no amount of range could possibly make up for it. Each error is executed with such goofy panic that the viewer can’t help but feel that the next one will be even worse. His OF defense progressed from unplayable to all the way up to merely unwatchable during his tenure with the Giants. I imagine that  the way forward for him, career wise, is to play 6th outfielder until hope triumphs over experience for some poor team in spring training again.

The last thing about Velez, and probably the most dangerous thing about him is that by all accounts, he’s an absolute gem of a human being. He’s beloved by his teammates and praised by all that meet him. If he were just a crappy, surly,  jerk of a ball-player no one would ever be tempted to play him. So, Dodger fans, if you are comforting yourself with the thought that this is just a minor league deal, and that Velez has a seemingly remote chance of making the roster, I say “ha!”. He is exactly the kind of player who will hit .600 with 7 HRs in spring training, then spend all of April and May converting his own PAs into outs and balls in play into anything but.

Then you will hate him, and then you will feel kind of bad about that. Then you’ll hate your own team for making you hate a perfectly likable human being.  That’s how these players go.

Productive Outs, 6/24/11:

Are you there, God? It’s me, Eugenio.

I know it’s been a while, but I’ve been a good boy this year and I was hoping to ask you for a few things. 

  1. A uniform that fits 
  2. For the other kids at the playground to stop calling me “Zorak” and “Fast Black Abe Lincoln”
  3. An Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!
  4. To be able to grow hair on parts of my face other than my chin
  5. To stop being terrible at baseball

Sincerely, 

Baron Pickoff von Ironglove

“Baron Pickoff von Ironglove”. Sold.

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We’ve added #52 to the McCourt sin list. Remember, this list will keep on growing as more info comes out.

52.Reportedly attempted to take an additional $20m out of the team in April 2011, even after the concerns about making payroll had arisen. (Added 7/6/11)

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Over at Dodger Thoughts, Jon has a great (and depressing) look back at the realization that just two years ago, the Dodgers had arguably the best team in baseball. It’s been a quick fall since then, no? I’ve long felt that the greatness of the 2009 club was a bit underrated, though I suppose that’s what happens when you get bounced out of the playoffs in the NLCS.

So How Do You Feel About Bill Hall?

Ken Rosenthal reports that Bill Hall may be getting closer to coming to town.

The Dodgers are in discussions with free agent Bill Hall, who would be their primary left fielder. Hall, who hit 18 home runs in 344 at-bats for the Red Sox last season, likely would be the Dodgers’ last significant addition; the team is nearing its budgetary limit.

Now, I posted on Twitter earlier today that I was surprised to see Hall’s reverse split in 2010 – a putrid .199/.276/.404 against lefties – and that it made me less interested in him, since the main priority right now is an outfielder who can hit lefthanded pitching. I was kind of surprised at the reaction I got, with several people rightly pointing out that Hall’s 2010 splits were an aberration and that over his career, he’s been better against southpaws than righties (.790 vs .736). That’s true, and I’m not going to claim that one odd year carries more weight than his career, but there seemed to be a lot of people who were vocally defending him, and I’m just having a hard time seeing it.

Most of the people who seem to like Hall quoted his career stats, which aren’t awful (.310 OBP, 94 OPS+, several seasons with good stats vs. LHP) but certainly aren’t much to hang your hat on, either.  Sure, he was great in 2005, with an .837 OPS, and 2006, when he had 35 HR to go with his .899 OPS. But since the end of the 2006 season, he’s been dreadful – in 1534 PA for three teams, he’s at .233/.297/.405. Over 1500 PA is a pretty good sample size, and that adds up to a .702 OPS, not exactly what you want from your starting left fielder.  

I’ve also seen people trumpeting Hall’s versatility, as he’s seen time at every position except for 1B and C. I just don’t see how that applies here, though. If that’s the role they were signing him for – utilityman with some pop – I’d have no problem with it. But that doesn’t sound like what they’re after him for at all; as Rosenthal says, he’d be “their primary left fielder”, and the Dodgers are actually setting themselves up with a flexible squad. Sure, Hall can play shortstop. But if Rafael Furcal goes down, is Hall playing shortstop? No, Juan Uribe would slide over, or even Jamey Carroll. You can use the same permutations at 2B and 3B, without even considering Russ Mitchell and Ivan DeJesus in the minors. So while I like the flexibility Hall brings, it’s not a major selling point right now.

Of course, at this point in the winter, the other options are slim. Austin Kearns brings OBP (.351 last year, .353 career), but little power. Lastings Milledge brings youthful promise and a nice split against lefties, but has yet to really see that potential translate on the field. Magglio Ordonez brings power but can’t really play left field. Then there’s those who suggest having Casey Blake be the righty portion of a LF platoon, and I must admit I don’t hate that idea. But who plays third base? Adrian Beltre‘s salary is out of reach, and I’m terrified that Colletti might push for the expensive, aging, Michael Young, who Texas is rumored to be interested in moving. Young’s an upgrade over Blake at the plate, but is a poor fielder and is owed $48m over the next three years. Still, that’s unlikely, so there’s not much chance of hoping for Blake to move to the outfield – unless you want to see Uribe at 3B with Carroll or DeJesus as the full-time 2B.

The point here is not to bash Bill Hall. He is what he is. If and when Hall is signed, I won’t complain too much, because he may be the best of a poor lot (assuming it’s a one-year deal, because, come on). The problem is just that the Dodgers managed to get this far without solving the problem in the first place.

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In addition to Juan Castro, who I discussed at length yesterday as being one of the worst hitters in major league history, and catcher JD Closser, who was already in the organization, the Dodgers announced today that they’ve signed Eugenio Velez to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training.

Yes, that’s another ex-Giant, one who has a .688 OPS in parts of four seasons in San Francisco, and not only was non-tendered last month, but wasn’t offered a contract despite not even being arbitration-eligible. That’s right, the Giants could have had him back for the minimum, and said no thanks.

Still, I don’t hate this as much as you’d think I might. Yes, he was a Giant, and no, he’s not been very good in the bigs. But he’s been pretty decent in the minors, because in parts of four seasons at AAA his line is .302/.355/.455, and he’s flexible enough to play 2B and all three OF spots. It’s a minor league deal at the minimum, so there’s no risk, and the Isotopes need players too. I don’t think he’s got much chance to make the MLB roster out of camp, and even if he does, he’s still preferable to Castro. So yes, let’s all have fun with the “ex-Giant” jokes, but this signing is hard to argue.