MSTI’s 2010 in Review: Left Field

Would you believe that nine different players started a game in left field for the Dodgers in 2010? We’ve already discussed Jamey Carroll and Russ Mitchell in the infield, and you’ll see Trent Oeltjen in center field. Then, even though they had more starts in LF than anywhere else, I’m putting Reed Johnson and Xavier Paul with Andre Ethier in right field just to balance out these articles a bit. That still leaves four men here…

Manny Ramirez (C)
.311/.405/.510 .915 8hr 1.3 WAR

I feel like I wrote a pretty definitive review of Manny’s time in LA back in August, and as little as I want to write more about him, that’s about as much as you probably want to read more about him. So let’s just look at the 2010-only section of that piece:

Heading into 2010, expectations were high. The expected controversy over whether Manny would exercise his opt-out clause never came, as he quietly acknowledged he wouldn’t be passing up his guaranteed 2010 payday on November 6. With that out of the way, conditions were ripe for a comeback. Manny had had the entire winter to rest his hand, he was in a contract year, and if the thought of playing for his next payday didn’t motivate him, the embarrassment he’d suffered in 2009 certainly would.

Well, it didn’t work out exactly like that. Manny landed on the disabled list with leg issues three separate times, and played just 65 games with the Dodgers, the fewest in his career other than a cup of coffee as a 21-year-old with the 1993 Indians. Eight homers, 232 plate appearances, months on the disabled list, and far more Scott Podsednik and Garret Anderson in left field than we ever could have dreamed. That’s not exactly what we’d hoped for, I’ll grant you.

Classic Manny? Clearly not.

But again, nor was it the post-steroid disaster that the media liked to portray it as. Manny’s .915 OPS was 13th in MLB, among players with at least 225 PA. That’s higher than players like Adrian Gonzalez, Joe Mauer, Prince Fielder, Ryan Zimmerman, and Evan Longoria. Remember, PED suspension or not, we’re still talking about a guy who’s 38 years old. A .915 OPS is 91% of his career average 1.000 OPS; for a 38-year-old to get that close to matching his usual Hall-of-Fame level is impressive. In fact, it was the 21st highest OPS+ of any ballplayer 38 or older (220 PA or more) in history, and the list above is littered with names like Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Ty Cobb.

I’m not saying he was worth every penny this year; it’s hard to do so with how much time he missed. But to keep up the facade that he could no longer produce is just wrong. If the numbers above aren’t convincing proof of that, how about the fact that they’ve scored more than 5 runs per game with him in the lineup, and fewer than 4 without him? If he’s not classic, “in his Boston prime” Manny, or superpowered “just got to LA” Manny, he’s still an effective force in the lineup, one the Dodgers have proven they cannot win without.

Manny ended his Dodger career with a bizarre ejection after just one pitch while pinch-hitting with the bases loaded, which is oddly appropriate. He also ended his Dodger career atop the team’s all-time leaderboards in OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+ (minimum 500 at-bats), all in exchange for a failed third baseman, a mid-level pitching prospect, and a ton of heartburn. Now, he’s gone, dropped onto the White Sox for nothing but salary relief, and no matter how you feel about Manny’s time in LA, there’s not much argument we got exactly what we signed up for. Dominant offensive performance, more than a little controversy, and a less-than-glorious exit? Yeah, that sounds about right.

None of that’s really changed, with the exception of this week’s revelation that Manny had hernia surgery to fix a groin issue which had bothered him all season. To put up the line he did despite all of the leg issues he had is impressive, though of course all the time he missed due to them balances that out quite a bit.

Scott Podsednik (D)
.262/.313/.336 .648 1hr -0.2 WAR

When Podsednik came to town, I didn’t hate the deal as much as you might think, reasoning that he could be of value as depth in LF and CF and as speed off the bench. (Let me clarify that by saying that I didn’t hate his acquisition; the team overpaid to get him, but that’s not his fault.)

That’s not how it worked, however. Podsednik basically became the everyday LF until he was hurt, a role he was woefully unqualified for, especially since he’s about one-tenth the hitter that Manny was. This was clear less than a month after he arrived:

So here’s all I ask of the team: whichever path you choose, don’t half-ass it. If you think you really have a shot, then don’t trade Manny. There’s no question that his presence fundamentally changes the lineup, and you can’t really be saying you’re trying to win if you’re playing Scott Podsednik (one of the three worst .300 hitters this year, according to baseball-reference) in left field instead of Manny, because that’s a huge dropoff in production. There’s no way you can let Manny go, and act as though you’re still a contender.

But pretend they did, and Podsednik didn’t really do much to contribute before his season ended due to plantar fasciitis in early September:

If this is indeed it for Podsednik’s season, his Dodger tenure ends as a disappointing one. His line of .262/.313/.336, with 5 steals and 3 caught stealing, comes out to just a 79 OPS+ (and -0.2 WAR), well below his 107 OPS+ line for Kansas City. By comparison, Lucas May had an .878 OPS with 5 homers in 24 games for the KC AAA team. So there’s that.

Podsednik will be 35 in March and showed zero power, poor defense, and mediocre on-base skills with the Dodgers. There’s absolutely no way he should be back in 2011. So of course he’ll be back in 2011.

Garret Anderson (those damned kids are on my lawn again!)
.181/.204/.271 .475 2hr -1.1 WAR

Like with Manny, I’ve already spent far too much time this season discussing a late-30s outfielder who didn’t even last the season. So we’ll just point out that it was a bad idea when the rumors surfaced in January

Yes, I don’t like him because he’s old (38 in June). Yes, I don’t like him because he’s coming off the worst year of his career despite having just moved to the easier league (.705 OPS, the third year in a row that decreased). Yes, I don’t like him because he is by all accounts a horrible fielder (-16.5 UZR/150 last year). Hey, a senior citizen who can’t hit or field? Sign me up?!

But what I like even less than the fact that Garret Anderson is a terrible baseball player is the idea of Garret Anderson. Let’s say he was where he was three or four years ago, when he was past his peak but still an average-ish hitter. That’s still valuable, but you’re not playing that guy over Manny, Kemp or Ethier, right? Nor was his glove so good that he’s really a huge upgrade over Manny in the late innings, agreed? And since he’s not much of a LF, you’re sure not going to put him into center or right to rest those guys either.

It was a bad idea in March when he was signed…

Since then, the Dodgers have imported Reed Johnson to be the 4th outfielder, plus Giles and others to battle for the last bench spot.  What Garret Anderson adds to that mix is… well, not “quality” exactly… I don’t know. Formaldehyde?

It was a bad idea at the end of April when he had proven he had nothing left…

Speaking of Manny’s absence… Garret Anderson needs to be cut. Now. Not when Manny comes back. Today. After another 0-4 last night, in which he didn’t even get a ball out of the infield, he’s hitting an almost unbelievable .122. This experiment was a terrible idea from the beginning, and it’s a terrible idea now. The pinch-homer he hit on April 22 is the only hit he’s had in nearly three weeks. How much more do we need to see here? He’s had a nice career, but he’s cooked, and it’s time to acknowledge that. And for the love of GOD, Torre, if you must play him, can you please stop batting him second? The thought process here is almost unfathomable.

And how did it all end up? With arguably the worst season by a Dodger hitter in 100 years:

The list you’re looking at above is of the ten worst seasons by OPS+ in Dodger history, among hitters with as many plate appearances as Anderson’s 163. You’ll notice that of the six seasons worse than Anderson’s, not a single one came after World War I. Let me put that another way: none of those seasons were even recent enough to take place in Ebbets Field, which didn’t open until 1913. Jul Kustus played just that one season as a backup for the Dodgers, never returned to the big leagues, and was dead six years later. Bill Bergen was so historically bad that he still holds the record for the longest hitless streak by a non-pitcher (0 for 46 in 1909), though he was regarded as an outstanding defensive catcher. Not exactly the company you want to keep if you’re Anderson, especially when you’re not contributing at all on the bases or in the field.

The whole experiment was actually pretty painful to watch, just because of the respect Anderson had earned in his long career in Anaheim. He never should have been out there, and knowing that the Dodgers chose to not go with their best 25 men for two-thirds of the season was infuriating. I’ll be shocked if we see Anderson in the big leagues again.

Jay Gibbons (∞)
.280/.313/.507 .819 5hr 0.1 WAR

Here’s how little I thought of Gibbons being signed to a minor-league deal in the spring: if you search “Gibbons” on this blog, you’ll first see a mention from December of 2007, when he was mentioned in the Mitchell Report. Though he was doing well in the minors, he didn’t even warrant a second mention until July 8, 2010, when I noted that he would be taking part in the AAA Home Run Derby. (That’s how come he gets “infinity” as a grade. How can I say he bested a preseason expectation when I didn’t even spend one brain cell thinking about him? It’s like dividing by zero. It’s dangerous.)

Of course, then I mentioned him several times over the next month, pointing out that he kept raking as Garret Anderson kept failing, until he was finally recalled when Anderson was DFA’d on August 8. At the time, I tried to discuss what you could expect from him:

Still, simply besting Anderson isn’t a high bar to clear, and the fact that Gibbons can play 1B as well as LF or RF offers some much-needed bench flexibility. As with any Isotope, you have to look at the home/road splits to see how much the Albuquerque environment helped him. It certainly has – his OPS is nearly 200 points higher at home – but he’s also been effective on the road as well, hitting .306/.335/.503.

Hey, if he works out, great. If not, you bring back up Xavier Paul or try someone else. Either way, he’s far more deserving of the opportunity right now than Anderson is, and this is an experiment which should have been tried months ago.

Gibbons bashed a homer in his first start and stayed hot before tailing off at the end, and though he drew just four walks and did a hilarious impression of “defense” in left field, his bat made the decision to keep him on the farm in favor of Anderson look all the worse. Or as I said on September 6

If you look at #5 on my list of things I wanted to see over the rest of the season, you’ll see “finding out if Jay Gibbons is worth a roster spot for next season.” So what happened? Gibbons got the start on Saturday and collected his third homer of the season. Someone remind me again why it took so long to get rid of the corpse of Anderson and get Gibbons up here – not like many of us hadn’t been calling for just that for months – because I sure as hell can’t come up with a good reason.

Gibbons almost certainly earned himself a spot on the 2011 club, and with good reason; with six double-digit homer seasons under his belt, he’s got the track record, and the defensive versatility is great to have on the bench, though he’s hardly a plus at either. Just keep in mind that, like Rod Barajas, one hot month does not make an All-Star. Gibbons as a power bat off the bench? Love it. Gibbons as your full-time left fielder? Not good. That said, he’ll likely sign for the minimum or something close to it, and that’s great value to add to your reserve corps.

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Next! Matt Kemp disappoints everyone! And who the hell is Trent Oeltjen?! It’s center field!

The Worst Offensive Season in LA Dodger History

(Note: I had written 90% of this before Anderson was DFA’d yesterday, always planning to run this on today’s off-day. I can’t tell if the fact that he’s now gone makes this anticlimactic or perfectly timed. Still, a season this historically bad deserves its own post, so here it is anyway.)

Part of me feels like this is mean-spirited, because by all accounts Garret Anderson is a fine person with an excellent career behind him. The other part of me wants the team to, you know, win, and having a guy who can’t hit, run, or field wasn’t exactly helping to do that.

So the point here isn’t to bash Anderson any more than necessary, because you never heard any stories about him complaining, loafing, or causing problems in the clubhouse – all you need to do is just read Steve Dilbeck’s piece on how he took the news to realize what a classy player Anderson was. But that doesn’t change the fact that he wasn’t getting the job done on a historic level, so let’s look at just how Anderson’s 2010 ranks in the Dodger record books.

Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Age G AB R H HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Bill Bergen -4 250 1911 33 84 227 8 30 0 10 .132 .183 .154 .337
2 Bill Bergen 1 372 1909 31 112 346 16 48 1 15 .139 .163 .156 .319
3 Bill Bergen 6 273 1910 32 89 249 11 40 0 14 .161 .180 .177 .357
4 Bill Bergen 16 372 1906 28 103 353 9 56 0 19 .159 .175 .184 .359
5 Jul Kustus 25 192 1909 26 53 173 12 25 1 11 .145 .204 .191 .395
6 Bill Bergen 28 347 1904 26 96 329 17 60 0 12 .182 .204 .207 .411
7 Garret Anderson 29 163 2010 38 80 155 8 28 2 12 .181 .204 .271 .475
8 Bill Bergen 31 320 1908 30 99 302 8 53 0 15 .175 .189 .215 .404
9 Rube Walker 32 187 1957 31 60 166 12 30 2 23 .181 .243 .265 .508
10 Bill Bergen 32 265 1905 27 79 247 12 47 0 22 .190 .213 .219 .431

The list you’re looking at above is of the ten worst seasons by OPS+ in Dodger history, among hitters with as many plate appearances as Anderson’s 163. You’ll notice that of the six seasons worse than Anderson’s, not a single one came after World War I. Let me put that another way: none of those seasons were even recent enough to take place in Ebbets Field, which didn’t open until 1913. Jul Kustus played just that one season as a backup for the Dodgers, never returned to the big leagues, and was dead six years later. Bill Bergen was so historically bad that he still holds the record for the longest hitless streak by a non-pitcher (0 for 46 in 1909), though he was regarded as an outstanding defensive catcher. Not exactly the company you want to keep if you’re Anderson, especially when you’re not contributing at all on the bases or in the field.

Now, I mentioned this on Twitter a few weeks ago, and Eric Stephen of TBLA noted, completely reasonably, that the plate appearance ceiling may be somewhat arbitrary, as it’s hard to think that 163 PA of a 29 OPS+ was worse than Maury Wills putting up 152 PA of a 3 OPS+ in 1972. It’s a fair point. However, I’m giving the prize to Anderson for several reasons. First, Wills was a Dodger legend who, at 39, had completely and suddenly fallen off the cliff. In 1971, he had a 91 OPS+ and finished 6th in the MVP voting; in 1972 he didn’t start a game after July 31st and finished up as a backup 3B and pinch-runner. It’s understandable that they wouldn’t want to simply cut such a historically important player coming off a good year, as opposed to Anderson, who had no history with the Dodgers. (As Chad from MOKM correctly noted, all due respect to Anderson’s career, but Dodger fans shouldn’t be expected to care about how good he was for a rival a decade ago). Besides, Anderson had a higher K rate (21.9% to 13.6%), lower BB rate (3.1% to 6.6%), higher BABIP (.215 to .149), and lower WAR (-1.2 to -0.5) than Wills did. Taking that all into account, Anderson’s 2010 is more detrimental to the team than Wills’ 1972.

Back to the present, when the news broke yesterday, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times posted some thoughtful insights on his Twitter. He didn’t disagree with the decision to cut Anderson loose, but he noted that he found it surprising that fans seemed to care so much about the failings of the 25th man, more so – in his opinion – than the team’s inability to go out and get an ace, for example. They’re fair questions, but I think this goes back to the heart of the matter: no one hated Garret Anderson as a person. As I mentioned, he’s a class act and all that, but on a team that is apparently trying to win this year – judging by the deadline deals – it’s hard to accept that a roster spot is completely wasted on a guy who just can’t get the job done anymore. The anti-Anderson campaign this year was never an indictment of him personally, but of the team for actively choosing to not go with the best 25 men available to them for most of the year. When you’ve got coaches complaining that they don’t think all of the young players are doing their best to win, how can you look back at the team and not note that they’ve let several veterans hang on all year with little to no production?

And it’s not like this was some sort of surprise to us. I hated the idea in January when we first heard even the rumors that they might be interested in Anderson, hated it in March when he signed, and said he needed to be cut immediately at the end of April when he’d been basically hitless for three weeks. He was never going to be a fit on a team which had three plus bats in the outfield, two of whom are below-average defensively and one of who requires regular time off. Veteran presence or not or not, a declining outfielder who can’t hit, run or field isn’t helping the team – but even I never thought that he’d end up with the most punchless season we’ve seen in nearly a century.

So I think we’re all sorry to see it end like this, a proud ballplayer who hung on a year too long being unceremoniously sent packing, after having to endure calls for his job from fans all year. Almost as sorry as I was for us to have to watch him play all year.

Good luck, Garret.

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So what can you expect from Jay Gibbons? To be honest, probably not a whole lot, though the fact that he contributed an RBI single in his first pinch-hitting opportunity yesterday got him off to a good start. Gibbons is a veteran of seven seasons in Baltimore, hitting over 20 homers three times, but he was in the Mitchell Report, hasn’t seen the bigs since 2007, and has a career .314 OBP.

Still, simply besting Anderson isn’t a high bar to clear, and the fact that Gibbons can play 1B as well as LF or RF offers some much-needed bench flexibility. As with any Isotope, you have to look at the home/road splits to see how much the Albuquerque environment helped him. It certainly has – his OPS is nearly 200 points higher at home – but he’s also been effective on the road as well, hitting .306/.335/.503.

Hey, if he works out, great. If not, you bring back up Xavier Paul or try someone else. Either way, he’s far more deserving of the opportunity right now than Anderson is, and this is an experiment which should have been tried months ago.

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A final thought: why now? I’m certainly not complaining, but I also don’t quite understand why August 8 was the breaking point. Sure, Gibbons was hot in AAA (.433/.485/.600 in his last 10 games), and Anderson was as useless as ever, but you could have said those things in May, too. With just a weeks until rosters expand, it’s a bit confusing why they wouldn’t let him just stick it out until then. Again, though, no complaints here.

The Dodgers Finally Put Garret Anderson Out of Our Misery

Garret Anderson is finally, mercifully gone. His quest to be the worst Dodger in team history has been short-circuited, as the Dodgers came to the realization that the rest of us had known for months, and designated him for assignment today.

Since I’ve been somewhat leading the anti-Anderson charge, you’re probably expecting me to laugh, gloat, and cheer. But that’s not really what you’re going to get, because Anderson deserves better than that. Let us not forget that he was a solid player and a great person for many years in Anaheim, and that his one terrible partial year in Dodger blue shouldn’t whitewash over the rest of his career.

Oh sure, I’m happy that the last spot on the bench will finally be filled by a player who can do, well, anything, but mostly I’m happy for Anderson. I’m happy that we won’t have to watch him stumble around out there and further embarrass himself.

Fun fact: I had written the above months ago, in preparation for this day. And of course it comes while I’m on a ferry, of all places, but it still applies. I’ll still be posting about how he’s had the worst season in Los Angeles Dodger history tomorrow, since I already have it mostly written.

It’s Friday…

…so why is everyone at work in such a foul mood? Anyway, the less said about last night’s game the better (I’m only half kidding when I say that watching it was less entertaining than watching the cat chase bugs around), so  let’s touch on a few widely varied topics.

Let’s start off with the rotation, where James McDonald appears likely to get the Monday start in John Ely‘s place, and while that’s not confirmed, McDonald was scratched from his start today. McDonald missed over a month with a hamstring pull, and his three starts since his return have been mixed. Four shutout innings on July 1 was a nice start, but then he allowed four earned runs in 6.2 IP at Iowa on July 6. Then on the 11th, he allowed just one run over 6.1 at Omaha, but did so while walking four and striking out just two, so it’s hard to say what to expect. I’m not convinced that he’s any better than Ely is right now, but I’m glad to see him get a chance – and fortunately for him he gets to face the Giants.

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How many people were confused when George Sherrill got into last night’s game? I asked that on Twitter, and the answer was: a lot, since they thought he had been immediately removed from the roster. Think of this like the month of August, where trades are still allowed but only once players have made it through waivers. You never hear about it, but tons of players - even ones teams don’t really plan on trading – are placed on waivers, just to see who makes it through and is available to be used in deals. It’s kind of the same thing for Sherrill, who finds out if he clears waivers today and is on the roster until then. The only difference here is that if Sherrill is claimed, he can’t be pulled back by the Dodgers, unlike the usual August waivers I mentioned.

In a related topic, I suppose this is why waiver deals are supposed to be kept so secret. Imagine if Sherrill had come out and struck out the side last night? (I know, you’d probably need some sort of medicinal help to imagine that.) How would that have made things look then?

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BP’s Jay Jaffe says that the Dodgers have regressed more on defense from 2009 to 2010 than any other team in baseball:

Having accentuated the positive, we’ll move on to lambasting the negative, since eliminating it doesn’t seem to be an option, or even very much fun. And No. 1 on the list of teams that deserve it are the Dodgers, who went from leading the league in DE last year by a whole seven points to ranking 10th this year. Not surprisingly, one key culprit appears to be the loss of Orlando Hudson (+17), though Blake DeWitt and friends have been a respectable two runs above average at the keystone. At third base, Casey Blake has declined (+13 to -5), and Rafael Furcal has dropped off (+13 to +4), surprising given how much more Furcal-like he’s been when available. In the outfield, Matt Kemp has lost 10 runs himself (+8 to -2), a particularly rough blow when coupled with his 20-point drop in True Average. Luckily for the Dodgers, they’re second in the league in strikeout rate, minimizing the number of balls in play.

It’s really hard to argue with any of that.

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Ramon Troncoso‘s pitched in four games for the Isotopes, and he’s allowed two homers – though he has struck out five and walked just two. Only one of the two homers was at home, so it’s not all the ABQ effect, though last night’s was a walkoff. Not good.

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ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates on who may want to buy the Dodgers should the McCourts be forced to sell:

There is speculation within the sport that if the McCourts are forced to sell the Dodgers as they go through their divorce proceedings, the person who is most perfectly positioned to buy the team is Dennis Gilbert, the longtime agent and team executive. Gilbert lives in the L.A. area, is a known quantity to commissioner Bud Selig, and Gilbert essentially finished second in the bidding for the Texas Rangers last year — largely because Nolan Ryan chose to align himself with Chuck Greenberg. Gilbert knows a whole lot of people, big hitters in the money world, and if the Dodgers’ franchise needs rescuing — and in the sport right now, the team’s ownership troubles are regarded as a cover-your-eyes embarrassment — Gilbert will have the financial wherewithal to restore the club to its past greatness.

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Garret Anderson update: his 0-1 last night kept him steady at #10 on the list of “worst seasons in Dodger history“, though with only six more hitless at-bats, he’ll likely be up to #7.

Also, while I have a lot of respect for Tony Jackson, this part of his chat yesterday killed me:

Sam (Fullerton)
How much longer will the Dodgers leave the corpse of Garret Anderson out on the field before they waive him?

Tony Jackson 
That’s a good question, Sam, but I get the sense they’re not going to wait much longer, unless Garret suddenly gets hot. I do think Torre and the coaching staff likes having him around for what he brings to the clubhouse. He lockers next to Matt Kemp at home, and I think they think he has been a good influence. So it may come down to how long the front office is willing to go along with the wishes of the staff.

Maybe I’ve been off on a distant planet or something, but haven’t we heard plenty of whispers that people aren’t always thrilled with Kemp’s attitude, culminating in the benching that seemed to be a direct result of a spat he had with bench coach Bob Schaefer? So… wouldn’t that then mean that Anderson’s actually doing a terrible job at mentoring, too? Guess we can just add that to the list of things he can’t do anymore.

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As long as we’re getting on Anderson, I should be an equal opportunity naysayer and expand on the D I gave Ronnie Belliard in the first-half grades. He’s got one hit in his last twenty-eight at-bats, and he’s hitting just .220 on the season. Clearly, he’s not much of a contributor in the field, either.

I don’t think cutting him is as clear-cut as it is for Anderson, simply because there’s not an Xavier Paul behind him ready to step in. Chin-lung Hu isn’t any sort of a bat, and Ivan DeJesus needs to play every day after losing last year to injury. In addition, Belliard is really the only backup 1B on the team, unless you count Casey Blake.

So his spot is secure for now, but I’d really like to see if the Dodgers can cheaply go after Russell Branyan, as I suggested earlier this week. Think about it: dump Anderson, dump Belliard, keep Paul, acquire Branyan. You’d then have your non-catching bench split between two righties and two lefties, you’d be covered in the outfield with Paul and Johnson, Jamey Carroll could cover backing up 2B/SS/3B, and Branyan would be a true lefty power bat who could actually play some 1B. Even if you think that stretches the non-1B backup infield to have only Carroll, remember that it’s only six weeks until rosters expand, ABQ isn’t that far away should injury happen, and if worst comes to absolute worst, you could still stick Russell Martin at 3B for the late innings of a game where injuries mount until reinforcements arrive.

The Least Depressing Shutout Loss Ever

Sometimes your team gets completely shut down, and you get frustrated. You wonder why your stars look bad at the plate, you can’t figure out how the opposing pitcher is getting everyone out with his junk, and you wonder why Garret Anderson continues to exist.

Not last night, though. Despite getting about 10% of the press that Ubaldo Jimenez gets, Josh Johnson is just about indisputably the best pitcher in the NL right now, if not all of baseball. And when you run into a train like that, sometimes it’s better to just sit back and appreciate the performance, even if it’s sending your team directly to a loss.

Besides, as Jon noted, the Dodgers tossed out 8 scoreless innings of their own, so aside from a tough 2nd inning, it was hardly a disaster. Definitely one of those games where you say, “yep, that happened” and move on.

Anyway, tons of other minor notes to get to:

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Remember the other day when I mentioned that Brad Ausmus‘ recovery from back surgery was ahead of schedule and that he might be looking to begin a rehab stint after the All-Star break? Apparently, it was even closer than that, since he DH’d for Lake Elsinore last night, going one for two. He’s supposed to catch three innings today, and while 1/3 of a game after DH’ing the night before may not sound like much, not forcing a 41-year-old coming off of back surgery to take a day off after his first game back sounds like he’s in better shape than any of us anticipated.

Barring a setback, that means Ausmus’ 30-day rehab clock is ticking, putting his return in the first week of August at the latest. I already discussed whether that was really a good thing or not, but it’s also worth noting the domino effect that will have throughout the organization. A.J. Ellis would likely get sent back to AAA, where Lucas May has a .902 OPS that’s only partially fueled by the ABQ effect. You’d think the team would want each to play every day, but it’s hard to demote May to AA now.

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Still no news on what sent Ronald Belisario to the restricted list, but the more I hear about it the more it sounds like it’s a family emergency and not a substance abuse problem. Tony Jackson:

Kinzer also said that Belisario was still in Los Angeles, but indicated the pitcher might be heading home to Venezuela at some point.

“It’s just some personal problems, and he’s got some things he’s got to work through,” Kinzer said. “It’s just a lot of anxiety, and that is about all I want to say right now.”

 Pressed on what he meant by the word “anxiety,” Kinzer declined to offer details.

“Right now, he is [still in town], but we will have to see how things work out later,” Kinzer said. “Obviously, his family is in Venezuela. But we haven’t set up [any travel].”

If it was some sort of disciplinary action or rehab issue, you’d think that leaving the country wouldn’t be an option. The fact that he’s from Venezuela is doubly concerning, as Yorvit Torrealba, Victor Zambrano, and Ugueth Urbina have all had to deal with kidnapping situations there in recent years.

Again, we have no idea if that is the case, but the pieces all fit. For the sake of everyone involved (and while I include the Dodger bullpen on that list, they’re about 78th on it) let’s hope it’s something else entirely.

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Garret Anderson put up another 0-4 with 2 K, plummeting his line to .182/.197/.280. For once, I’m actually not trying to single him out here, because it’s no shame to go hitless against Johnson, and Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal suffered the same fate.

However, earlier this week I noted that 1,337 Dodgers in history had as many plate appearances as GA did, and his OPS+ rank was 1,318, putting him in the bottom 1.33% as far as productivity goes. The four chances last night knocked out a few of those players who now have fewer PA’s than his 138, and the four outs pushed GA’s OPS+ from 34 to 29.

That means the updated standings have Anderson at 1,322 of 1,334 seasons, or in the bottom 1%. With one more plate appearance, he’ll be able to remove Moe Berg’s 1921 and Ben Geraghty’s 136 from the cutoff point, and another out or two will probably push his OPS+ below Bill Bergen’s 1904.

And yes, I am going to keep track of this, because the historical significance is stunning. He just needs 14 more plate appearances to qualify for the worst offensive season in Los Angeles Dodger history by someone with that many chances, and that’s something worth tracking. Fortunately for him, the -4 (yes, negative) that Bergen put up in 250 PA in 1904 is probably safely out of reach.

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Albuquerque updates: Claudio Vargas got lit up for 7 earned and 10 hits in just 3.2 innings for the ‘Topes last night against the Iowa Cubs. His ERA is 7.71. It’s ah, not working out. In better news, Jay Gibbons will be taking part in the Home Run Derby, before playing in the game alongside teammates Lucas May and John Lindsey. Gibbons is somewhat a result of the ABQ air, but he’s also a lefty who can play outfield and a bit of 1B, and doesn’t have his OBP about to drop below .200, like Garret Anderson‘s is. Just sayin’.

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For the sake of completeness, let’s note that the Dodgers released Timo Perez from AAA and signed former D-Back Trent Oeltjen, who had opted out of his minor-league deal with the Brewers last week. The Australian native has had minor league OPS’s over .800 in each of the last three years, and had been on a hot streak recently. But it’s not his bat that denied him a call-up:

Oeltjen had been on an offensive tear with the Sounds, raising his batting average to .301 with 24 doubles, two triples, eight homers, 38 RBI and a .851 OPS. But his defense wasn’t considered major-league ready, so the Brewers opted not to call him up and move out one of their players.

“Our reports were that he was coming on dramatically with the bat,” said assistant general manager Gord Ash. “We liked him, obviously. That’s why we signed him. But as a defensive outfielder, he wasn’t what we were looking for.”

So after opting out of his deal, a man who clearly should have signed with an AL team in order to keep the DH option open not only stayed in the NL, but he signed with perhaps the only other team who can top Milwaukee’s level of outfield stackitude. Time for a new agent, maybe?