If you’ve been a reader of this site for any length of time, you’ve likely heard me complain about the recent trend of twelve-man pitching staffs, especially in the National League. For most staffs, the 12th man doesn’t get enough work to justify his position – and it’s that sort of roster composition that gets you in a situation where you’ve only got one backup outfielder. (Whether or not that backup outfielder is both a lousy hitter and a horrifying fielder is another matter entirely.)
Well, guess what! According to DodgerThoughts, a bad situation has gotten worse:
The Dodgers purchased the contract of Jeff Weaver and activated Cory Wade, while optioning Blake DeWitt to the minors. Doug Mientkiewicz was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. That’s right, those of you afraid of burning out the bullpen* — at this moment, the Dodgers have a 13-man pitching staff.
I haven’t seen this confirmed anywhere else, and Jon didn’t source the report, but he’s reliable so we’ll go with it. This is in addition to Scott Elbert being optioned out after last night’s game, which was expected. Let’s go with this one thing at a time:
Welcome back, Jeff Weaver! No surprise here, but I’m actually pretty happy to see this. I always liked Weaver when he was here in 2004-05, and while he was probably never as good as I remember him being, there’s something to be said for 444 innings of almost exactly league-average pitching in those years. Considering how bad the 2005 squad was – remember, that squad gave 58 starts to DJ Houlton, Odalis Perez, Scott Erickson, Elmer Dessens, Derek Thompson, and Wilson Valdez - he practically looked like Tim Lincecum, so it’s easy to see where the fond remembrances come from. Weaver’s been pretty effective in AAA so far, holding opponents to a .208 BA while putting up a 12/2 K/BB rate, so he deserves it. He’ll apparently start in the bullpen, but seeing how Eric Stults has been treated in the past every time he has one bad start, I’d say the chances of Weaver taking that Thursday start are approximately 1,000,000%.
Good to see you, Cory Wade! It’s no secret that the Dodgers could use a jolt in the 8th inning, and Wade supposedly has had no issues with his return from shoulder soreness. This isn’t the first time this has happened, though; so maybe let’s hold off on the back-to-back usage of him for a while, okay, Joe?
Tennesseeya later, Scott Elbert! Okay, I kind of want to kick my own ass for that joke. Nothing wrong with this either; Elbert’s got loads of talent, but he needs to pitch more regularly than he was going to in LA. 3 homers and 10 hits allowed in 6.1 innings isn’t getting the job done with the big boys.
Thanks for stopping by, Blake DeWitt! It’s about time! I really haven’t understood what’s going on with DeWitt so far this year. The big concern was that he wouldn’t get enough playing time if he made the club over Juan Castro as the main backup infielder; I argued that he’d be just fine because he could start at second, short, and third. Except that Orlando Hudson (who I thought would get some time off to protect the wrist) hasn’t missed a game yet, so DeWitt was sent down to get playing time. Then when he was brought back up when Eyechart got hurt, he really didn’t get any playing time because Castro was still around. Really, it never made any sense to have brought him back up in the first place.
Welcome to the weakest bench in the league! Your bench currently consists of Brad Ausmus, Mark Loretta, Juan Castro, and Juan Pierre. In a word: yikes. Loretta’s just fine (hitting .444), but otherwise you’ve got three zeroes at the plate and no solid defensive outfielder. I mean, I get that the everyday lineup is more solid than most and doesn’t require a whole lot of replacement but… this is bad. And with the starting pitching, other than Billingsley, not going that deep into games, the need for pinch hitting and double switching is increased. You’d rather have six guys on the bench, but only four? Not good.
Did we really need thirteen pitchers? In a word, no. As the chart Jon put up shows, the bullpen isn’t getting killed. Will Ohman’s thrown 23 pitches in the last week, and he’s been solid. Hong-Chih Kuo’s only thrown 31 pitches in the last week, and while I know he’s been working out his issues, he looked good in a scoreless inning last night. Looking down that list, only Ronald Belisario looks like he might need to be dialed back a bit.
So, what next? Thirteen pitchers isn’t a sustainable roster model; it just can’t be. My money is fully on Eric Stults losing his roster spot in the next few days for a position player. What’s odd, though, is why he’s not losing his spot right now. After starting last night, he’s not going to be available for the next few days anyway, so if he’s the one to go, why not just farm him out right now rather than letting him eat up a roster spot? As for who’s coming up, let’s just hope it’s not DeWitt again – that didn’t make any sense the first time. No, you need an outfielder, one you can use for defense. Which leaves you with two choices: the AAA outfielder who’s doing awesome but who you might not want to sit on the bench in the bigs, Xavier Paul (1.101 OPS), or the one who’s doing lousy but you’re not too worried about hurting his development, Jason Repko (.803 OPS).