Why Don’t the Dodgers Sign Rudy Seanez?

Update: Great, so right after I post this, MLBtraderumors posts that Seanez has indeed signed with the Angels. So ignore the parts where I say “the Dodgers should sign him” and concentrate on the parts about how Guillermo Mota is awful, and that the Dodgers should have signed Seanez.

Every time I take a weekend off, something interesting happens. Last June it was getting no-hit by the Angels, yet still winning. Last July, when I headed out on tour, it was the trades for Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez. And this time, it was Clayton Kershaw nearly throwing a no-hitter of his own, plus the continued incredible resurgence of Juan Pierre.

The lesson, as always: any time I’m out of story ideas and I need the Dodgers to do something noteworthy, I just need to head out of town for a bit. Done and done.

So without recapping all that I missed this weekend, there’s one thing I’d like to touch upon: the continued employment of Guillermo Mota. We’ve mentioned how horrible he is before around here, and I’ve hardly been alone in that – even before Sunday’s disaster raised his ERA to 9.00, with 11 ER in his last 8.2 IP.

But whether or not Guillermo Mota is a terrible pitcher right now isn’t really the issue, nor is the thought that he hasn’t really been effective in nearly five years – or one steroid suspension ago. No, the question is, why haven’t the Dodgers done anything about it?

Well, perhaps the time has come where they should. A few weeks ago, when (likely pre-emptively) awarding Jeff Weaver the 2009 “I’m Not Dead Yet!” award, I went through some of the previous winners, including…

2007 – Rudy Seanez. Like Park, Seanez returned to LA after years of bouncing around with limited success, yet at age 38 put up a fantastic year, setting career highs in games and innings pitched. Actually, he was pretty decent in Philadelphia last year too, and last I heard he’d still like to pitch. Give the man a tryout!

seanezandsomegirl.jpgI said that jokingly at the time, but after really looking at his stats, he was more than just “pretty decent” in Philadelphia. Moving to a tougher pitcher’s park, he somehow improved his ERA, HR/9 rate, and H/9 rate (though his strikeout rate did drop). You really think he’s not better than Guillermo Mota, especially when he could be had for free?

Apparently the Angels think it’s a good idea:

The Angels, looking to bolster a bullpen that began Wednesday with a 2-9 record, a major league-worst 6.90 ERA and five blown saves, are close to signing veteran reliever Rudy Seanez to a minor league contract.

Seanez, a 40-year-old right-hander, last pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, going 5-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 42 games.

If he signs with the Angels, he would probably be sent to the team’s extended spring training camp in Arizona before joining triple-A Salt Lake.

This is from a few days ago and I haven’t been able to find anything that says he’s actually signed with Anaheim just yet, so why not jump in and see if he’d prefer to be a Dodger again? The price is almost literally zero – I mean, he’s going to sign a minor league contract – so if he bombs out, cut him with no loss. Even if he’s not that good, just getting rid of Mota for him would be addition by subtraction.

Let’s bring him back. RU-DY! RU-DY!

May Cody Ross Get A Perpetual Case Of Hemorrhoids

So, I’m sitting here on this nice Sunday morning, relaxing, typing out an article on the awesomeness of Chad Billingsley, and as I’m busy typing this, I’m watching the Dodger game and, as I’m watching, I note that I’ve just seen something historical.  

Juan Pierre drew a walk. 

shocked-2.jpgAnd it was intentional. 

monkey_shocked2.jpgSo I had to put the article on hold and get typing on this.  Because in case you missed it, there was some other notable thing that happened, today: some guy called Sandy Kershaw.jpgKershaw pitched a pretty nifty game, throwing a no-hitter through 7 innings, until it was broken up by a leadoff double from Cody Ross in the 8th inning, who has now punched his ticket to hell for all of eternity after committing such an atrocious act.  Nonetheless, the final tally on Kershaw was 7+ IP, 1 ER (off a sacrifice fly after he was out of the game), 1 H, 4 BB, 9 K. 

The short of it was that Kershaw was simply brilliant and continued to give us another taste of what could be with his unlimited potential.  Since his brilliant 13 K performance against the Giants at the beginning of the year, Kershaw hasn’t been particularly good (5.21 ERA going into today’s game, with an 84 ERA+), going from a mixture of Kaz Ishii to, as we saw today, Sandy Koufax.  However, as has been said many times, he’s barely 21 and to be able to get even that production from someone his age is highly encouraging.  Hopefully this is the type of start he can build on as he continues to mature and improve, which he has been doing.  Well done, young man. 

In other news… 

Welcome To Juanville 
The Pierre Man  .jpg
You’re going to witness something even rarer right now than the almost no-hitter and the intentional walk to Pierre.  Yes, that’s right, we here at MSTI are going to give some love to the Pierre Man. The Juanster.  The Mayor Of Juanville. 

Let’s face it, once Manny got suspended, we didn’t just scream “oh shit!” because his production was going to be gone, but because it also meant that Juan Pierre was our new left fielder.  But if the first 10 games are of any indication, he’s been flat out brilliant.  Over the past 14 days (not counting today), he’s put up a line of .415/.478/.515 with 6 SB’s to boot and also went 3-5 today, with 3 RBI’s.  What’s particularly nice is that, while Pierre has normally been a singles hitter, we’ve also been seeing an increase in extra base hits.  Counting today’s 3-5 performance, which included 2 doubles, Pierre’s (who has played 31 games this year) total amount of doubles this year is 8.  Now why is that even worth bringing up?  Well, because last year in the 119 games he played, he had 10.  And 7 of those doubles he’s had this year have come in the past two weeks.  You see, when we get the old, vintage Pierre, the one who gets on base, gets a bit more extra base hits, then you know what?  He’s not bad and does make a valuable contribution to the team.  It’s when he stops doing that, then he gets his justifiable criticism.  But you know what?  I can’t complain about him, right now.  He’s been simply brilliant and one of the key parts of this offense since Manny got suspended.  I’m shocked as hell, yes, but good for him and I truly hope he keeps it up. 

I now expect Juan Pierre to soon get suspended for 50 games for violating MLB’s drug policy. 

Either way, nice production.  But, of course, we can’t let this article be 100% positive, now can we?  This brings us to… 

Guillermo Makes Me Want Some Mota 
Mota Stone4.jpg
Because that’s the only way I can get through watching him when he comes in.  Is there any reason why this guy still has a job?  Even in a 12-1 blowout, he damn near gets Florida to cut the lead in half by giving up 4 ER, which came from a Cody Ross Grand Slam in the 9th with 2 outs.  The guy simply serves no purpose with this team, other than as a motivational tool for the starting pitchers to continue pitching well, lest he come in for them and screw them of a win.  The last time Mota came in was the 3 ER performance against the Giants, where he blew the lead twice, and eventually lost the game in the 13th inning, not to mention he has also not had an easy, scoreless 1-2-3 inning since April 26th.  I mean, come on, where do I begin?  The wicked 9.00 ERA?  That sick 2.17 WHIP going into today?!  I mean, if we have to keep him, can we at least inject him with steroids again?  Sure, there is a moral issue with steroids, but I argue that it would be, if anything, moral to give him steroids to save Dodger fans from the utter torture and nightmares that he creates every time he takes the mound.  Actually, that’s what he should be doing!  Somewhere in Guantanamo Bay, they need to set up a pitchers mound where he gets to pitch and where they subject all the terrorists to watching this.  Holy shit, the information will just come POURING out!  But put him anywhere, I don’t care… just not with us.  He’s just so detrimental… he’s like… I don’t know… the swine flu. 

So the Dodgers end the road trip by going 4-2; in other words, they took 2 out of 3 from both the Phillies and Marlins.  Not bad and nice to see some improved play from them on the road, after being a .500 team (8-8) away from Dodger Stadium prior to this trip.  Now it’s back to Dodger Stadium beginning tomorrow.  And we don’t get to mess with the Johan!  Sweet! 

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg

Stay Thirsty, My Friends

Hey, after a fun streak of 20 games in 21 days, including the longest homestand of the year, we’ve got a day off today. So take a breather, enjoy a baseball-free day, catch up on all that DVR’d pornography, and get ready to watch the boys head east to finally play some real competition in the defending champion Phillies, plus the completely nose-diving Marlins (6-14 in their last 20 games). With that in mind, let’s touch on a few outstanding topics…

* So long, Eric Milton?

Still trying to find out the details here, but from Baseball America‘s minor league transaction section:

Los Angeles Dodgers
RHP Miguel Ramirez, LHP Eric Milton, C Andrick Villalobos, 1B Chris Gibson

This is pretty surprising – Milton was holding AAA batters to a .641 OPS and had a 3.00 ERA, and it seemed almost like a given that he was going to get a shot with LA sooner or later. I believe his contract had an out if he wasn’t up with the big club by a certain date – have to check on that – but I’m kind of surprised that the Dodgers would just let him go instead of bringing him up over Brent Leach or Guillermo Mota.

* Hey, you may not like Ned Colletti, but it could be worse… much worse.

Via Dodger Thoughts, the Detroit News has a piece on the development of former Dodger prospect Edwin Jackson. It’s a nice read, and it’s good to see a former Blue phenom achieving success, but try to read this sentence without having your brain try to push its way out of your skull:

And in the waning days of August 2003, after Jacksonville’s season had ended and as Jackson packed for a trip to see family in Detroit, Bill Bavasi, then the Dodgers’ general manager, phoned a 19-year-old pitcher to tell him the short-handed Dodgers wanted him to start, the next weekend, at Colorado.

I don’t know if the reporter (Lynn Henning) incorrectly named the Dodgers GM (it was Dan Evans) or Bavasi’s position (in charge of player development) but really, it doesn’t matter – the words “Bill Bavasi” and “Dodgers general manager” should never, ever, ever, be in the same sentence.

* You can see his charisma from space. He’s a lover, not a fighter, but he’s also a fighter, so don’t get any ideas.

I’m a little late on this – both FireNedCollettiNow and SonsOfSteveGarvey have the story, complete with pictures, but the fact is that this whole “Casey Blake offended Brian Wilson” story is too ridiculous not to mention. (If you’ve missed it, basically Wilson does this goofy “X” symbol with his hands after each save, which Blake mocked in the dugout after yesterday’s game-tying extra inning home run, and now Wilson is offended because the symbol partially represents his faith and his late father.) As Kensai says, if Blake was knowingly mocking Wilson’s faith and family, then yeah – that’s not cool. But it sure seems as though Blake didn’t know that at all, and was just goofing on a stupid hand motion, which is unquestionably funny.

Besides, Wilson seems like a bit of a wingnut, even to some of his teammates:

I asked him about teammates dropping the X, including Omar Vizquel who does it every time. (Omar doesn’t know what it means. “I just like him because he’s crazy,” Vizquel said.)

Brian, maybe you should get over it. Oh, and it’s nice that you made the All-Star team and got 41 saves and all last year, but a 95 ERA+ and a 1.444 WHIP isn’t much to get worked up about. (Admittedly, he’s been much better this year.)

* Either fielding stats are still completely wonky, or we really do watch every game through blue-colored glasses. Or both.

I’ve always considered Andre Ethier to be a pretty decent right fielder, though I think in my heart I knew he was never as good as I thought he was. At second base, Orlando Hudson has looked great, though with a similar disclaimer in that it’s not all that hard to follow four years of Jeff Kent and look good. But man, does FanGraphs and their UZR rankings disagree with us…

The White Sox, Dodgers, Nationals, and Red Sox make up the bottom of the league. I’m just as surprised as you to see the Red Sox ranking low. So far Jason Bay (-8.2, the lowest in the majors amongst qualified players), Julio Lugo (-2.4), Mike Lowell (-2.3), and J.D. Drew (-2.2) are killing them. The team leader is Kevin Youkilis at 1.4 runs. As for the Dodgers, Orlando Hudson and Andre Ethier are sinking them. You hate to make assumptions based on these small of sample sizes for defense, but if it holds up over the long haul then it’s time to proclaim Hudson’s run as an excellent defender over.

The comments to their post are littered with suggestions that small sample size warnings apply even moreso to defensive ratings than offensive, but still: a big surprise to see that about Hudson.

Buster Olney, you’re too smart to be parroting the mainstream media line like this.

The absence of Ramirez has been acutely felt by the Dodgers, who are 1-3 since the outfielder was suspended.

Fact: the first of those losses was due to a total disaster by the bullpen, not because the offense “only” put up nine runs. The ’pen doesn’t implode like that, and you’re not complaining about the team being 2-2. Besides, as much as I hate to admit it… 

Credit where credit is due: Juan Pierre’s been outstanding.

Obviously, a .991 OPS isn’t going to stick for Juan. Nor is .891, .791, or .691, which he hasn’t even reached since 2006. But for as much as I bag on him around here, it’s only fair to give him credit when he’s doing well, and 9-16 with 2 walks and 0 K’s in the 4 games since Manny went down is pretty impressive. No, there’s no prayer of him keeping anything like this up, but you can’t point at left field in the post-Manny era as being an enormous black hole. Yet.

It’s the Guillermo Mota lightning round:

1) Why does no one care that Mota also got a 50-game ban for steroids? Hey, Bill Plaschke and Kurt Streeter: if you two jokers want to get up on your accusatory high horses about how the fans of Los Angeles are idiots because no one seems to be as upset as you two about Manny’s steroid test, maybe one of you could have ever once mentioned that the Dodgers currently employ one of the few players to go down for 50 games previously. So tell me, Bill, why aren’t you calling for Mota to be banned from baseball for life like you are for Manny? Is it because no one cares about Mota and writing about him won’t sell as many headlines for your dying industry? Nah, I’m sure it couldn’t be that. 

2) Why is Mota still on this team?

Let’s go back to my thoughts from when Mota was signed:

Let’s look at this fun “Gee, You Think Steroids Helped?” timeline:

2006, April-August: 6.21 ERA, 1.699 WHIP for Cleveland. Mota, your stats… woof.
2006, August 11: DFA’d by Cleveland.
2006, August 20: Acquired by the Mets.
2006, August-Septmber: 1.00 ERA, 0.833 WHIP for the Mets.
2006, November 1: MLB announces a positive test from “sometime” during the 2006 season and hands down a suspension.

Gee. You think steroids helped?

At the moment, I don’t care whether Mota is hopped up on steroids, PCP, or Yoo-Hoo, because whatever he’s doing, it just isn’t working. After giving up 6 hits and 3 runs in just 2 innings to blow yesterday’s game in extra innings, his ERA now stands at 7.42 and he’s given up multiple runs in 5 of his 14 appearances. He’s 35, and his WHIP is 2.175. I don’t care about his contract – it’s over. Really, if the team ever gets down below 13 pitchers, he ought to be the man to go. Will he be? I doubt it. 

We’re coming to get you, Chan Ho!

Hey, remember when we said it was a big mistake for Chan Ho Park to leave the only team with which he’s found success to go to a hitter’s park in Philadelphia? Well, predictably, Park is 0-1 with a 6.67 ERA with the Phillies and is on the verge of being dropped from the rotation. So I’m hoping that the big offense of the Dodgers can help him with just that. Good series, though – after Clayton Kershaw vs. Park on Tuesday, you’ve got two old lefties in Randy Wolf and Jamie Moyer on Wednesday, and then a fantastic matchup of Chad Billingsley vs. Cole Hamels on Thursday afternoon.

Should be fun.

Coming and Goings

Let’s catch up on some of the fun that’s been going on in this, the most boring hot stove season in years…

steroidsball.jpgComing: Guillermo Mota
Hey, remember Mota (shown at right)? Lights-out setup man for Eric Gagne in 2003? Part of the controversal deal that sent Paul LoDuca to Florida in 2004? Well, pending a physical (presumably looking for track marks), he’s going to be back in Dodger blue in 2009. No, it’s not a coincidence that I mentioned all-but-confirmed ‘roid abusers like Gagne and Paulie, because Mota actually got caught with the stuff and lost the first 50 games of 2007. You think Gagne’s career fell off the rails to injury and ineffectiveness after he stopped with the helpers? You think LoDuca’s short peak ended pretty quickly once he went back to doing it all naturally? Let’s look at this fun “Gee, You Think Steroids Helped?” timeline:

2006, April-August: 6.21 ERA, 1.699 WHIP for Cleveland. Mota, your stats… woof.
2006, August 11: DFA’d by Cleveland.
2006, August 20: Acquired by the Mets.
2006, August-Septmber: 1.00 ERA, 0.833 WHIP for the Mets.
2006, November 1: MLB announces a positive test from “sometime” during the 2006 season and hands down a suspension.

Gee. You think steroids helped?

As for the actual signing, it gets a solid “meh”. I don’t know what the contract details are, but it’s unlikely to be a huge amount of money, and Mota was basically average last year. But do we really have a shortage of guys who could do exactly what he could, for less money and without his history? I suppose we can hope that he’s going to be the next Giovanni Carrera-type who only pitches well as a Dodger. 

Going: Derek Lowe
No surprise that he wasn’t returning to LA, but I am surprised that he did actually get up to $15m/year, getting $60m over 4 years from Atlanta. Unless I missed something, wasn’t his only other offer about $30m over 3 years from the Mets, which may have not even been officially tendered? As I detailed here several months ago, I really am going to miss Lowe, and the rotation’s going to be worse off without his solid reliability and occasional brilliance. But at his age and at that salary, I’m not too disappointed – that’s higher than I was willing to go for him. Really, after how badly DePodesta was bashed for giving him $36m/4 years in 2005, who’d have thought that four years later he’d be nearly doubling that salary? Enjoy Atlanta, Derek. Can we please go get Ben Sheets now? Thanks. 

Coming: Mediocre Retread Starters
Welcome, Shawn Estes. Over there, Claudio Vargas. Now paging Jon Lieber and Kip Wells. I know we hit the proverbial “old busted dude” jackpot with Chan Ho Park, Aaron Sele, and Scott Erickson, lately, but how many times are we going to keep going to that well? For every Park there’s a Jason Johnson or Esteban Loaiza. Ah, hell, whatever. Short money and non-guaranteed deals. Let’s get that welcome mat ready for Kris Benson and Josh Fogg.

saitofistpump.jpgGoing: Takashi Saito
So long to one of my favorite players. How can you not like a guy who comes over to America in his late 30s after a relatively average career in Japan only to dominate the bigs? I was singing his praises back in 2007, just after we launched (yeah, weird formatting on that one with the move to MVN, I guess). I can’t overstate this enough – his 2007 was better than any season Mariano Rivera has ever had, and Rivera’s going to the Hall of Fame. I really believe one day we’re going to look back and be simply amazed that we had Saito and Jonathan Broxton in the pen at the same time. Between his elbow injury and his age, I think we all knew it was basically a foregone conclusion that he wasn’t coming back for a while, but still, it’s sad news.  

Really, I’m just going to miss the happy first pump after every successful save. We’ll miss you, Sammy. I hope your arm doesn’t land outside of Jillian’s on Lansdowne Street.

michaelyoung.jpgNot Coming: Michael Young
At least, not if I have anything to say about it. The Texas shortstop has requested a trade after the Rangers *gasp* asked him to move to third base. Hey, good luck with that, guy. You’re going to be 32, on a four-year slide in OPS+ (131, 108, 107, and 96), immensely helped by your home park, and about to start a ridiculous $60 million contract extension. Not only that, you’re an overrated defensive shortstop (Gold Glove be damned, FanGraphs actually has him at a negative rating) and your reputation is taking a hit because of your balking at this request to help your team. I particularly like this quote from an unnamed GM in today’s Buster Olney blog:

“Put it this way,” one GM said. “If the Rangers offered up Michael Young for free — with that contract, I don’t think there would be any takers.”

What does this have to do with the Dodgers? Because, of course, they keep popping up on the list of Young’s possible suitors after he said he’d move to second base in order to faciliate a trade. You know what? Forget the home park helping his stats, and forget the immense contract. Just look at the lines:

22 year old, “overmatched” rookie Blake DeWitt: .264/.344/.383
31 year old, All-Star super veteran Michael Young: .284/.339/.402

Look at that. DeWitt actually had a better OBP and a competitive SLG, and that’s including the two solid months he was completely awful that led to his demotion. If Michael Young could only just barely outperform DeWitt while playing in Texas, why would we want to have him at another year older and not playing in that bandbox? Not to mention, the extra $60 million. So, no thanks. Enjoy Texas, Michael.