Sad Juan Uribe is Sad

This is too good not to share – thanks to the magic of Twitter, I present to you my new favorite Tumblr, “Emo Juan Uribe“.  A few choice selections:

Thank you, Internet. Thank you.

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In about an hour (3pm PT) over at Dodger Divorce, Josh Fisher and Molly Knight will be chatting as Frank McCourt appears live on 710, including taking phone calls from fans. Join them in the chat, but mostly be sure to call McCourt and try to ensure he doesn’t get all softball questions.

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Swapping out old, injured outfielders: the Dodgers today placed Marcus Thames on the DL with a right quad strain and recalled Jay Gibbons from ABQ. Thames has been dealing with that issue for a while now and has just six hits this season. Clearly, if he’s not hitting, he has zero value, so this makes sense.

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Just a quick thought, as I attempt to avoid the work piling up on my desk. Today, the Tampa Bay rays DFA’d infielder Felipe Lopez to make room for Evan Longoria‘s return from the disabled list. You may remember Lopez as “the guy I wanted the Dodgers to sign in the offseason of 2009-10 instead of Jamey Carroll.” I freely admit that was a mistake on my part, though in my defense, Lopez was a switch hitter over six years younger, who was coming off an excellent 2009 of .310/.383/.427 split between Arizona and Milwaukee.

Clearly, I’ll eat crow on that one, and Lopez has had a tough two years since, putting up just a .649 OPS and getting DFA’d by St. Louis last year for reportedly being late to a game. That said, Lopez is 31 and was once a quality player, hitting 23 homers with an .818 OPS in 2005 along with that 2009, and overall has contributed 7.3 WAR in 11 seasons. He got off to a good start this year – even hitting cleanup several times for Tampa – while Longoria was out. Meanwhile, Aaron Miles is 34, has just a .602 OPS this year (less than what Lopez had in the tougher AL East), and has contributed 0.2 WAR in 9 seasons.

Lopez isn’t great, but he once was good, and he’s younger than Miles. Worth a shot?

A Final Word on The Offseason Infield Acquisitions

It’s no secret around here that I think the Dodgers made a mistake by giving Jamey Carroll two guaranteed years; my post titled “So Everyone Agrees the Dodgers Moved Too Quickly on Jamey Carroll, Right?” saw one of the largest comment totals I’ve seen all season. It’s not that I have any particular problem with Carroll, it’s just that he seems like a poor fit for this club; if you wanted insurance for Blake DeWitt at second base, you could have signed a lefty hitter who can play shortstop as well.

I won’t continue harping on it, since what’s done is done and either way, this decision (hopefully) won’t be what makes or breaks the season. So to put a bow on this topic, let’s quickly discuss the two bits of news regarding this we’ve seen in the last two days…

Felipe Lopez signs with the Cardinals for 1 year, $1m. As I detailed extensively in the post about Carroll linked above, Lopez was a much better choice for this team. He’s a switch hitter; Carroll is righty. He can play shortstop; Carroll really can’t. He’s a far better hitter, and as far as fielding, well, just catch this tidbit from Buster Olney’s blog:

While Lopez likely will be an offensive upgrade over the Cardinals’ second basemen from 2009 — he had an .810 OPS last season versus a .747 OPS for Cardinals second basemen — he also should improve the infield defense. According to fangraphs.com, Lopez had the fifth-highest UZR among MLB second basemen, and he really excelled in his range, where he ranked second among second basemen.

In my earlier article, I said the only reason to not sign Lopez was if you weren’t sure that he’d be okay with possibly accepting a backup or utility role. Judging by his comments in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it doesn’t sound like that’ll be an issue…

“I can play anywhere. That’s the right answer, right?” Lopez offered after completing a team physical. “I’ll play anywhere. I know this team … is a really good team, so wherever they need me.”

At the time of the Carroll article, we didn’t know how much Lopez would eventually sign for, but it seemed certain that the longer he was out there, the less he would get. In addition to his $1m guaranteed, he’s eligible for $1.2m in incentives, which he can’t fully max out unless he gets 600 plate appearances (which not even Albert Pujols did in St. Louis last year). Yet the Dodgers guaranteed Carroll nearly four times as much what Lopez is guaranteed, over an extra year, for a player who’s older, not as versatile, and a lesser player. Fantastic.

Was the Carroll deal the worst move of the offseason? I don’t think I would go quite that far – I’m still dying over the Brandon Lyon deal – but the fact is, MLBtraderumors asked the question, and he’s in the conversation. This is a deal that seemed okay at best at the time, and just keeps looking worse considering how the market (and the Dodger roster composition) has played out.

Anyway, I’ve said my piece on this more than once, so we’ll consider this case file closed and move on tomorrow.

So Everyone Agrees the Dodgers Moved Way Too Soon On Jamey Carroll, Right?

In this offseason which has mostly been noteworthy for the Dodgers’ almost complete lack of activity, one of the main complaints we’ve been hearing (okay, and saying) is that Jamey Carroll was the biggest new acquisition of the winter. That’s probably not a good thing just because, well, it’s Jamey Carroll. But is the problem with Carroll the fact that a backup infielder shouldn’t be the biggest grab by a contending team, or that the Dodgers cost themselves value by going after him so quickly?

This isn’t to denigrate Carroll, of course. He’s nice for what he is, a veteran with some on-base skills and positional flexibility. As I said at the time (despite barely being able to see straight), he’s got his virtues, though I did say I was unhappy with having to give him a second guaranteed year. It’s just that we all remember how nicely it turned out last year when Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf were signed to below-market deals because they’d waited too long in a terrible market, and much the same situation appears to be happening again.

I’ve been thinking about this for weeks, but what really got me going it today was today’s list on MLBTradeRumors of their “Unsigned All-Star Team“, and seeing Felipe Lopez on that list.  Lopez isn’t as good as he thinks he is – he’s been riding that fluke 23 homer 2005 season in Cincinnati for quite a while now – but he’s also a useful player who’s probably going to come cheaply, and he’s a perfect fit for the Dodgers. Last year, Lopez signed in Milwaukee for $3.5 million (that’s right, less than Carroll is guaranteed, though of course not over two years), and though he was traded midseason for the third time in four years, put together quite a nice line of .310/.383/.427. Dig that OBP!

Granted, his career line doesn’t quite match up to that, at .269/.338/.400. That line needs to be taken with a grain of salt, though; it’s weighed down heavily by a slow start to his career in Toronto at ages 21 and 22 in 2001-02 (.293 OBP) and a season and a half on a dreadful Washington team (.320 OBP). Lopez was good in Cincinnati (.765 OPS), got dragged down in Washington, but then has been very good ever since he left the Nats. His 2008 turned around instantly as soon as he was dealt to St. Louis (man, players getting good once they leave Washington sure does seem to have some legs to it, doesn’t it, Ronnie Belliard and Marlon Anderson?) as he had a red-hot .964 OPS, and then as mentioned above was very good in 2009 between Milwaukee and Arizona.  Add in that he’s a switch-hitter while Carroll’s a righty – and don’t forget, the Dodgers are having a problem with too many righties on the bench – and there’s no question that Lopez is a more valuable bat than Carroll.

Lopez has the advantage in the field, as well. Like Carroll, he plays several infield positions and is slightly above-average at 2B, below-average at 3B, and has some limited experience in the outfield. But unlike Carroll, who can’t play shortstop, Lopez has played over 600 games there. He’s not great (-11.2 UZR/150 overall), but if Furcal stays healthy, he doesn’t need to be. (The obvious follow up question is, “what if Furcal doesn’t stay healthy,” in which case the Dodgers are screwed regardless). Wouldn’t you rather see Lopez manning short as Furcal’s backup than the unappealing options we’re currently faced with, like Nick Green and Angel Berroa?

So what we have here is the Dodgers choosing a 36-year-old guy who’s a lesser batter, can’t play shortstop, and hits from the wrong side of the plate over the 29-year-old guy who has a recent history of offensive success, can play shortstop, and is a switch-hitter. Look, if Blake DeWitt can’t handle the job, Carroll’s not going to be there to play every day – Ronnie Belliard is. Yet if Lopez were on hand, he would be able to play everyday, and serve as a middle-infield backup/lefty bench bat otherwise. Lopez has almost no lefty-righty platoon split in his career, so he’d be an ideal piece.

The only way this doesn’t make sense is if the Dodgers were convinced that Lopez would be unhappy if forced into a bench role. Yet here we are, two weeks before spring training starts, and Lopez is unemployed. What better situation would he have than trying to beat out the untested DeWitt? No, I think it’s clear that the Dodgers jumped on Carroll far too soon, without seeing what kind of bargains would be out there in February. It’s not like if they’d missed on Carroll, the season would be sunk for not having him, right?