The True Face Of The Dodgers

MLB is running this “face of [team]” promotion, which is mildly interesting, I guess. Fans can vote by using hashtags for the “face” of their team, and so far the results have been expected — Joey Votto, Felix Hernandez, Joe Mauer, etc… with the obvious exception of the fact that Oakland fans trolled the game and voted Eric Sogard.

So I got to thinking, and well, people aren’t taking this seriously enough. Giants fans, you’re really voting for Buster Posey when this face exists? Come on now. People are making this a popularity contest, but it’s supposed to be about faces.

And the Dodgers, well… they have some faces. Who is the true face?

Dee Gordon, out at second:

gordon_shocked_nlds_gm2

Gordon, looking at his stat line:

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Former utilityman and future broadcaster Jerry Hairston either in shock or realizing he chose poorly:

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Super mega happy A.J. Ellis:

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Evil Zack Greinke:

Passive-aggressive face:

mattingly_colletti_press_conference“I have so many dollars face,” even though this picture is two years old:

“You may have thought you heard me say I wanted a lot of money, but what I said was: Give me all the money you have." (via)

“You may have thought you heard me say I wanted a lot of money, but what I said was: Give me all the money you have.” (via)

Derp face:

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Whatever the hell this is:

wilson_celebrate-2013-09-19

Jerry Hairston Returns To The Dodgers (Sort Of)

hairston_bases_2013-05-03

Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal started a bit of fun by quoting Jerry Hairston:

I’m well aware I’m the only guy on the market that can play anywhere and I’ll make a decision within 24 hours.

Apparently he wasn’t kidding, though not in the way you might have thought. According to Chicago radio host Bruce Levine, Hairston will be joining Nomar Garciaparra on the pre- and post-game shows for SNLA, and this is a pretty great thing all around. It’s nice because Hairston has been known to be a friendly, eloquent player should be a lot of fun on the air; it’s better because he was so obviously cooked last year that this takes him off the table for a possible playing role. Still, he had a good long career, playing for approximately 87 different teams, and this is a nice way to enter retirement.

Between Hairston, Garciaparra, and Orel Hershiser, the Dodgers have been doing a hefty amount of work in adding former players to the broadcast team, which is good — the Winter Meetings have been a snooze so far.

2013 Dodgers in Review #15: 3B/UT Jerry Hairston

90topps_jerryhairston.211/.265/.275 226pa 2hr .244 wOBA -0.4 fWAR F

2013 in brief: Completely fell apart in the second half and was left out of the playoffs.

2014 status: Free agent, and at 38 and coming off such a terrible season, it might be the end of the road.

Previous: 2012

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It’s probably important to remember that Jerry Hairston was a pretty useful bench piece in 2012 (.320 wOBA, 1.5 WAR), because 2013… well, just couldn’t have really gone worse. After a crash course in learning how to play first base in the spring, just because the team had never identified a backup for Adrian Gonzalez, Hairston started games at left, right, first, and third in the first month, yet was hitting only .255/.304/.353 when he injured his groin in early May.

He returned in late May, displacing Dee Gordon, and that just might have been the most value he provided all year. I mean, Hairston’s been a valuable utility guy for a long time, so I don’t really want to speak poorly of him, but it was pretty clear he was cooked. After some signs of life in June (.279/.333/.326), July was bad (.188/.297/.375), August was worse (.195/.244/.195), and September was just dire (.069/.069/.069). In the entire second half he hit .143/.189/.179; against lefties all year, he hit .179/.253/.192.

By the end of the season, we were openly praying that he wouldn’t make the playoff roster, and he didn’t, with Gordon & Scott Van Slyke each making it ahead of him. If you’re wondering how it is we got to the end of the season so quickly here, well, I haven’t even used his category tag since 2012‘s review. There’s just not a lot to say about a player who was generally awful, yet didn’t make for any individual memories.

Again, that’s not to disparage Hairston or the signing, because the idea of a multi-positional type has been a very valid one considering the multitude of injuries this club has had. It just only worked out for year one, and year two was so lousy that it just might have ended Hairston’s long, valuable career.

So is he coming back next year? Hang on, let’s ask Jerry himself:

jerry_hairston_shocked

Signs point to “no”.

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Next! Hey, Carl Crawford was better than expected, right?

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2012 Dodgers in Review #15: 3B/UT Jerry Hairston

.273/.342/.387 267pa 4hr 1.5 fWAR B

2012 in brief: Well-traveled veteran filled in capably at second, third, and left field despite missing time with a hamstring injury and requiring season-ending surgery on his hip in August.

2013 status: Signed for $3.75m in final year of two-year contract.

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I’m really not sure that I’m happier with my initial take on any of the newly acquired Dodgers than I am with the way I saw Jerry Hairston:

Taken on its own merits, I don’t have a big issue with this signing. Hairston’s a useful enough piece, one who adds flexibility to a bench with his ability to play six positions with varying degrees of success, and on a team with so many questions in the infield, that flexibility will likely come in handy. His offensive performance has been all over the place – OBP of .384 in 2008 and .344 in 2011, but also .315 in 2009 and .299 in 2010 – but that’s generally to be expected from a bench piece, since you’re not acquiring him to be a starter. He’s being paid to generate about 1.5 WAR over the life of the contract, and since he put up 1.2 fWAR last year and 1.5 in 2010, it seems like he could at least earn the value. I don’t like the second year of the deal, though I admit that it was likely he’d have received that from someone else. (And, not that I care about this type of thing as much as some, he seems really excited to join the Dodgers, at least according to these quotes that SBNation‘s Amy K. Nelson collected.)

Oh, I’m not just talking about the fact that looks pretty accurate now, after the fact. I’m happy because that quickly devolved into another discussion of just what the hell the point of Adam Kennedy was. (A conversation which we revisited again months later.)

Seriously though, Hairston proved to be a valuable piece as he got off to a great start, just like the rest of the team. (Though not like umpire Tim Welke, who called Hairston out on May 2 in Colorado on what may be the worst call in the history of sports.) After a three-hit game in Chicago on May 4, Hairston was hitting .327/.421/.490 (albeit in just 58 plate appearances), having made starts at second, third, and left. Two days later, the headline picture on this site was of Hairston being helped into the dugout at Wrigley Field after injuring his hamstring trying to beat out an infield hit. Which, of course he was.

Hairston missed nearly three weeks and then returned as the team’s primary third baseman, collecting nine hits in his first four games (three starts) back. As May turned into June, Hairston shifted to second with Mark Ellis down, making each of his 22 starts in May at the keystone, and continued hitting well, topped by a massive game on June 9 in Seattle:

So, anything stand out here?


Jerry Hairston
 had himself something of a day, driving in five of the first six Dodger runs and scoring the other. The five runs batted in were not only a career high, they were the most by any Dodger since Matt Kemp also drove in five last July against Arizona.

Unfortunately for Hairston, it was all downhill from there. In 116 plate appearances up to and including that Seattle game, he had a line of .366/.435/.525 (along with a .389 BABIP). Immediately following, he went hitless in his next 26 plate appearances, hitting only .204/.272/.285 over the remaining 151 PA of his season. If he’d flipped those two halves exactly and ended up with the same season totals as he did, I’m guessing that people wouldn’t be quite as positive about his season. As we’ve been over so many times, nice first impressions count for so much more than they should, simply because you see that nice batting average on the screen every single night.

By July, Ellis was back and Hairston was seeing most of his time in left field and at third base, where his defense had become an increasing issue. Pushed exclusively back to third base by the acquisition of Shane Victorino, Hairston played only seven games in August before calling it a season thanks to a serious hip injury which later required surgery, opening the door for Luis Cruz to play every day.

Despite Hairston’s contributions, he played in only 78 games thanks to the multiple injuries, and while he’s expected to be ready for 2013, it’s hard to say that all of this doesn’t sound a little terrifying:

The procedure is arthroscopic, but not minor. His left leg was placed in traction to separate the leg from the hip far enough for arthroscopic tools to enter the joint. The torn labrum was repaired and an irregularity in the head or neck of the femur that caused the impingement was shaved to allow for smooth rotation in the joint. When the ball and socket don’t fit properly, friction tears the labrum.

Hairston also admitted that he’d been feeling pain in the area since May, and while the argument can be made that this is what caused his decreased productivity – I don’t doubt it had an impact – I’d say that when you read quotes like this

“I tried to fight through it and not tell anybody, but my play started to be erratic. It was affecting my throws. I couldn’t plant my legs. My swing, I had no bat speed. At that point I felt I was hurting the team and I couldn’t live with myself hurting the team, not the way I was playing.”

…it’s just infuriating. Every year, you get players trying to be tough and playing through pain, and  all you end up with are worse performances and more serious injuries that may have been avoided. Have we learned nothing?

Looking ahead towards 2013, the Dodgers appear to be thinking of Hairston more as an outfielder, according to Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times, though I imagine that might depend more on how the winter shopping shapes the roster than anything. Let’s not forget, this is a thing that happened when Hairston played outfield this season (via Chad Moriyama):

All in all though, a decent enough season from a useful enough player with a contract that didn’t look that bad when it was signed and isn’t a burden now. Assuming the Dodgers can stay healthy enough that Hairston isn’t needed as an everyday player, he’ll be a nice multi-positional piece for 2013.

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Next up! At least we know who Elian Herrera is now!

Surgery for Jerry Hairston Changes Infield Equation

I don’t want to talk about the hideous sweep the Dodgers just suffered at the hands of the Giants – and let it not be forgotten that the most likely path to the playoffs runs through the NL West rather than the wild card, so beating the Giants would seem to be somewhat important – and neither do you, so let’s not talk about it.

Instead, let’s talk about the ripple effect the somewhat unexpected news that Jerry Hairston is now out for the year following hip surgery has on the infield. (And despite how pleasant of a surprise Hairston was this year, he’s only going to end up playing in 78 games thanks to multiple injuries, once again showing the risk of signing veteran players in their mid-to-late 30s.)

When we talked about whether or not it mattered that Dee Gordon was getting healthy earlier this week, part of the discussion was predicated on the fact that Hairston’s injury was relatively minor, and on a team with a relatively set lineup which didn’t have a huge need for a traditional utilityman, he would be available to share time at third with Luis Cruz and/or be a safety net should the Cruz fantasy fall apart suddenly. That being the case, and since Hairston couldn’t play shortstop and Gordon was hardly necessary to slot back in, it made sense to keep the current configuration of Hanley Ramirez at short and Cruz at third.

Now… now, I’m not so sure about that. Ramirez hasn’t been awful at short, but he’s clearly a below-average defender there, and Cruz is average-to-above at the position. I think we’d all agree that the best defensive configuration would be to swap the two, and Hairston’s absence changes the equation going forward, because now, you pretty much have to play Cruz & Ramirez every day. Hairston’s not coming back. Juan Uribe barely exists and keeps his job only because of continued injuries to others. Adam Kennedy is a space-filler at best. Alex Castellanos can’t be counted on defensively yet, especially not in a pennant race. That means Cruz & Ramirez are your left side of the infield, and that being the case there’s a pretty solid argument to be made to play them where they best serve the defense. As we’ve seen just in the last few days, even poor defense that doesn’t get marked as errors can still hurt a team.

None of this changes what we said about Gordon the other day, of course. No matter how they’re positioned on the field, if someone’s losing playing time in order to get Gordon back on the field, it’s not going to be Ramirez. It’s going to be Cruz, and with solid defense along with two more hits last night, there’s absolutely no argument to be made for Gordon to be taking time away from Cruz right now. (“I’ll take sentences I never thought I’d write for $600, Alex.”)

So in the short term, it seems a swap would be a better defensive pairing. In the long term, it allows for easier slotting if Cruz does fall apart, because I’d rather have Gordon at shortstop (with Ramirez at third) than Kennedy & Uribe at third (with Ramirez at shortstop). The one thing I’ll admit that we cannot know is how much Ramirez enjoys playing shortstop and what the effect might be on him if he was moved; all indications are that he would be flexible to such a move, but he is hitting well and there’s always the thought that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It might not be broken, and it probably won’t matter if other people don’t start hitting. In a race that seems likely to come down to the final day, however, even the slightest improvements matter, and this might be an easy way to give the defense a boost.