Dodgers of the Decade: Second Base

The first base voting is now closed, with James Loney winning handily over Eric Karros and Nomar Garciaparra. I love that Olmedo Saenz and Hee-Seop Choi got ten votes apiece, though. Let’s put Loney on the roster…

Dodgers of the Decade team:
C: Russell Martin (68%)
1B: James Loney (62%)

…and move on to second base, which I’m assuming will not be so close. When players have seen time at more than one position, I’ve been trying to include them only at their top spot, like only having Shawn Green be an outfielder, not a first baseman. Alex Cora is the exception to that rule, since he was the starting shortstop for 2 seasons, and then the starting second baseman for 2 seasons. Therefore, he ends up on both lists. He’s not going to win either spot, so I’m okay with this.

Second Base

Alex Cora (644 games, 2000-04)
Dodger stats: .249/.318/.357 .675 27 hr 170 rbi
WAR: 2.8

Jeff Kent (521 games, 2005-08)
Dodger stats: .291/.367/.479 .847 75 hr 311 rbi
WAR: 10.7

Mark Grudzielanek (431 games, 2000-02)
Dodger stats: .274/.319/.382 .701 29 hr 154 rbi
WAR: 3.2

Orlando Hudson (149 games, 2009)
Dodger stats: .283/.357/.417 .774 9 hr 62 rbi
WAR: 3.7

Top three seasons
4.4 WAR Kent, 2005
3.7 WAR Hudson, 2009
3.0 WAR Kent, 2007

“Dodger of the Decade”? How about, “of the Century?” In just four seasons, Jeff Kent is up there in nearly every offensive record for a second baseman in Dodger history. So yeah, I think he might be winning the 2000s title. The only reason I didn’t include a “you’re joking, right?” option in the poll is to not skew the final stats. Let’s get this one over quickly and move on to third base.

[polldaddy poll=2438663]

It’s Time to Jump Ship, Right?

I… am…  almost literally without words. We were already horrified at the idea that Orlando Hudson wouldn’t be offered arbitration, but it just got worse (via Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times):

The Dodgers aren’t offering arbitration to any of their free agents, according to team spokesman Josh Rawitch.

I’m sitting here trying to think of a way to accurately describe just how floored I am at the decision not to offer Randy Wolf arbitration – in addition to Hudson, of course – and I just can’t find the words, at least in a fashion that’s not a never-ending string of expletives.

Randy Wolf is almost universally regarded as the second-best starting pitcher in the free agent market behind John Lackey. So what if he accepted? He’d get what, $8m or so in arbitration? There’s not a team in baseball that wouldn’t fall all over themselves to give him that for one year, knowing that there’s no doubt that some team is going to sign him to a multi-year deal once he’s free. Like Hudson, there was no chance that Wolf was accepting anyway.

But no. The razor-thin chance of having to spend any money at all means that the Dodgers are now out four draft picks (two firsts, most likely) that they could have picked up for nothing. Nothing. You wonder why people complain that the farm system isn’t what it once was? This is exactly why; it’s because the smart baseball people are having their hands tied by the utter jokes that are the absolutely worthless McCourts.

So while you could have offered arbitration and had a 5% chance that your second base hole is filled and a 1% chance that you get a quality starting pitcher back at rates FAR below market value, and a 98% chance you walk away with four top picks, you get nothing at all.

I know it seems odd to say this in December after two crushing NLCS losses in a row, but this is one of the darkest days I can remember as a Dodger fan. I have absolutely zero faith in the jackasses running this team going forward (and for once, I’m not talking about Ned Colletti, because I think we all realize that his hands have been tied on this), and that’s just not how you should feel with a great young core who’ve been steps away from the World Series twice in a row.

I envy Royals fans right now. At least they never had hope.

There’s Still 11 Hours Left to Not Make a Huge Mistake

From Yahoo’s Tim Brown, via the quickly-becoming-indispensible Twitter of TrueBlueLA:

Dodgers likely will not offer Orlando Hudson salary arbitration.

We’ve been through this a bunch of times, as have most of the other blogs, but let me reiterate: if this happens, there is no good reason for it. There’s just no downside. If he accepts, you get a solid 2B to fill your gaping keystone hole on a one-year deal. If he doesn’t – and we all know he wouldn’t, judging by his comments regarding Joe Torre and his late-season benching – then you get two draft picks from whichever team ends up signing him.

So why would they consider not offering? Sad to say, it seems to go straight back to the payroll issues, just like everything else has lately. The 5% chance that you might have to pay him $8m this year is somehow not worth the 95% chance that you get two free draft picks.

Or maybe, considering how little money the scouting team is allowed to spend on draftees, they just want to avoid the cost of paying those picks. Either way, it’s an indefensible decision as well as being a sad commentary on the current state of Dodgertown.

Sunday: A Day for Rumors and Self-Promotion

Last day of a holiday weekend at the slowest time of the year? Oh, you better believe it’s time for a round-up.

Monday is arbitration day, and the Dodgers better not screw it up. We’ve been saying this for months, but there is absolutely no reason to not offer arbitration to both Randy Wolf and Orlando Hudson. True Blue LA outlines why offering Hudson arbitration is an absolute must (which I of course agree with), but also mentions why it’s a really bad sign if the Dodgers don’t:

If the Dodgers are so risk averse as to try to avoid the infinitesimal chance the Hudson would cost them another $8 million or so, that’s a bad sign.  Only good things can happen by offering Hudson arbitration:

  • Hudson declines arbitration, signs elsewhere, and the Dodgers get two draft picks in 2010
  • Hudson accepts arbitration, Dodgers get a 2.5 to 3-win player for a one-year deal

If the Dodgers don’t offer arbitration, it will be for monetary reasons only.  Saving money in the short-term on things they should be spending money on will only hurt the team in the long run.

Prediction:  I hope I’m wrong, but the Dodgers won’t offer Hudson arbitration.

If they don’t, then things truly are worse than we’d thought.

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I’ve given up hoping for a Juan Pierre trade, because it will inevitably only lead to sadness. The LA Times with a quick note about the possibility of our favorite backup outfielder leaving town:

The Dodgers are expected to explore the possibility of dealing fourth outfielder Juan Pierre for an overpaid back-of-the-rotation pitcher in a trade that would essentially amount to a swap of bad contracts. Pierre is owed $18.5 million over the next two seasons.

This is basically the idea I was running with when I said that Pierre should be traded for Mets 2B Luis Castillo in the 2010 plan. So who would that player be? Every time this comes up, I keep hearing about trading Pierre to the Reds for either Aaron Harang ($12.5m in 2010, $2.5m buyout of $12.5m in 2011) or Bronson Arroyo ($11m in 2010, $2m buyout of $11m in 2011).

But I just don’t see that happening. The Reds don’t need Pierre; they already have Willy Taveras, who’s about as mediocre as Pierre, and have Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs in the outfield as well. In addition, Harang and Arroyo are both more valuable to the Reds than Pierre would be (each had positive ERA+ scores last year in a small ballpark) and each is owed less money than Pierre is in a time where the Reds are trying to cut cash. So that’s not a fit.

There’s really not a great fit out there, unfortunately. Most teams won’t add a salary like Pierre’s for the small return he’d give them. Among the ones that might, they don’t all need an outfielder, and among those, not all have an overpriced pitcher they’re willing to move. I really think he’s stuck here for another season.

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Good news coming from the minors, finally. Much has been made about how the top of the Dodger system has been relatively barren recently, since all of those prospects have since graduated to the big club. That’s still true, but there’s a good amount of guys quickly moving up from the lower levels, and Jim Callis of Baseball America mentioned a few of them in his ESPN chat a few days ago:

rayg (burlington, NJ):

Jim-thanks for the chat. Dee Gordon-will he be able to hit enough to make it to LA in the next 2-3 years? Do you see him moving up to Inland Empire or Chattanooga in 2010?

Jim Callis:

I do think he’ll hit enough. He has hit .331 and .301 in two pro seasons despite his inexperience, and his speed should keep him out of slumps. I think he’ll continue the more he plays. The plan is for him to start 2010 in high Class A, but I could see him in Double-A by the end of the year.

brian (Pasadena):

Hey Jim,Is Allan Webster anything for Dodger fans to get excited about?

Jim Callis:

Yes, yes he is. Unknown when the Dodgers took him in the 18th round of the 2008 draft out of a North Carolina HS, he has an effortless 94-mph fastball and promising secondary pitches.

Jose (Long Beach, CA):

How is the dodger farm system right now. It seems that its young but they have solid players in Withrow, Martin, Miller, Gordon and Webster. When will McCheap start looking at international players since the dodgers where the pioneers

Jim Callis:

The Dodgers have graduated a lot of talent to the majors this decade, and they’re currently replenishing the system. It’s stronger at the lower levels than the upper levels, but those guys you mentioned and some others are promising. LA thinks the international market is less efficient than the draft, and it has focused on the draft rather than big-money foreign signings. They generally don’t go over slot and get good bang for their buck, but it’s also a disadvantage when most teams are outspending you on the draft and internationally.

I’d never really heard of Allan Webster before, but he’s someone I’ll keep an eye on now.

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Have any baseball fans who need a gift with the holiday shopping season coming up? Time for a little self-promotion. Just like I did last year, I’ve contributed Dodger analysis for the Graphical Player 2010, which is a fantastic resource for baseball fans and especially fantasy players. I remember one of the first things that really got me into baseball was recieving Bill James’ baseball annual for Christmas in 1987 or so at about six years old, and spending weeks reading through the hundreds of pages of analysis. (sidenote: dammit! I wish I’d been inspired to start a blog at that point. I could have been king of the world by now). You could be starting someone off on their own path of baseball fandom, or you could just slide into the position of “favored relative” by giving a fan this amongst their other gifts of sweaters, socks, and unwanted DVDs.

Anyway, a lot of very smart people put a lot of hard work into this book, and if you’re a baseball fan or have any gifts to buy for people who are, you could do a lot worse than spending twenty bucks on stats, commentary, and predictions on over 1,000 ballplayers. Here’s a quick description of what you’ll find:

Graphical Player includes dashboards for over 1,000 ballplayers from both the majors and the minors, chosen expressly for their interest to fantasy leaguers. Graphical Player is now bigger and better than ever. Key features include:

  • Projected and historical dollar values for single and mixed Roto leagues, as well as tallies for points leagues
  • Four years of career stats, including splits for RH/LH and 1st-half/2nd-half
  • Support for a variety of fantasy categories, including Caught Stealing, Complete Games, Blow Saves, Holds, Quality Starts, and more
  • Minor-league stats down to Single-A for 2009 for every player
  • A unique “mini-browser” showing five players with similar projections at the same positions
  • Profiles of more than 100 prospects, with independent rankings from three experts
  • Speculative rosters for every MLB team for 2010, 2011, and 2012
  • Sentiment indicators for “buy-low” and “sell-high” candidates
  • Full player stats by team for 2009
  • Groundbreaking metrics like xFIP, wOBA, and Wins Above Replacement

Great, right? Here’s the link to order, and it’ll be out next week.

Orlando Hudson, “Golden” Glove?

Sometimes democracy just doesn’t work. In this case, it’s because postseason awards, voted on by humans, are almost always insanely wrong. It’s with this in mind that I direct you to this scoop of a Tweet by AOL’s Jeff Fletcher:

The Gold Gloves are coming out today and Orlando Hudson is winning for NL 2B. That’s the only scoop I’ve got. #Dodgers #goldglove

85toppsorlandohudsonSure, it’s nice to see Dodgers winning awards. The only problem with this is that now whomever replaces Hudson at second base for the Dodgers next year is going to have to deal with the stigma of replacing a Gold Glove winner, and while Hudson has the reputation of a fantastic defensive player, the stats just don’t back it up.

Eleven National League second basemen played enough this season to qualify for the batting title. Hudson finished 7th in UZR, with a -3.3 (no typo, that’s a negative). If you look at the players he beat out in that category, you’ve got someone with an arm that makes Juan Pierre’s look like Matt Kemp’s (David Eckstein), a converted outfielder in his first year at 2B (Skip Schumaker), a slugger whose value is entirely in his bat (Dan Uggla), and a 34-year-old with bad legs (Luis Castillo). Expanding that to MLB as a whole, Hudson finishes 13th out of 20.

No, this award really ought to be going to Chase Utley, who’s not only the best hitting second baseman in baseball, but blew away the competition in the NL field as well. His UZR of 10.8 smokes the 7.8 of his nearest competitor, Felipe Lopez. Yet somehow, Hudson, finishing in the negatives in that category, is going to win the award.

You have to love the baseball writers, don’t you?

(Eric Stephen points out that the Gold Glove is actually voted on by managers and coaches. My mistake. Still, I’ll find a way to blame the baseball writers yet.)