Scott Podsednik May Have Chosen Poorly


After Scott Podsednik came to the Dodgers from Kansas City in late July, he hit an underwhelming .262/.313/.336 (79 OPS+) in 160 plate appearances with below-average defense and a net of only two stolen bases. That was all before September 9; he ended up missing most of the last month of the season due to plantar fasciitis.

Despite Podsednik’s subpar performance as a Dodger and the fact that he’ll be 35 in March, the club picked up their half of a $2m (plus $300k in incentives) mutual option in November. At the time, Ned Colletti seemed to leave the door open for substantial playing time for Podsednik should he return:

“Our thought process after watching him play for us and seeing what he added to our club was that we would like to have him back,” said Dodgers GM Ned Colletti. “He obviously has versatility in the field, plus he has an added component in the speed he has.”

When asked if Podsednik could be an everday left fielder, Colletti said they would “have to wait and see. … He was last year until he got hurt.”

Fortunately for us all, Podsednik declined his option, and the fact that I still say that after three months of watching the Dodgers try and fail to fill that LF hole should tell you all you need to know about my opinion of Podsednik. Presumably, Podsednik’s thinking at the time was that he could do better than a one year, $2m deal, particularly since reports were that he and the Dodgers were still having conversations about his return even after declining the option.

That all went down in the first days of November. We’re now nearly into February – camps open in less than a month – and Podsednik is still without a home. Since then, we’ve heard the rumors fly about him, but nothing has quite worked out. At one point it was the Reds. They signed Fred Lewis and Jeremy Hermida. Then it was the Blue Jays. They acquired Rajai Davis and traded for Juan Rivera (and also, you know, have an awesome GM who’s smarter than that). We’ve heard about the Braves, but it seems unlikely they’d sign another lefty outfielder to go with Jason Heyward, Eric Hinske, and Nate McLouth.

So who’s left? Perhaps the Angels, because at this point absolutely nothing they do would surprise, though their outfield seems full enough with Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos, and Bobby Abreu. The Mets and Marlins may each need a veteran backup, yet neither team has shown any interest in spending this winter.

At this point, I think it’s clear that Podsednik probably screwed up by declining his option. It seems unlikely that anyone’s going to guarantee him $2m or give him an opportunity for as much playing time as he could have had with the Dodgers. The longer this drags on, the higher the chance is that he doesn’t even get a guaranteed major-league deal, though that’s most likely not going to end up happening. Honestly, I just want him to sign somewhere, if only to eliminate that 0.00001% chance that the Dodgers could still bring him back.  On the plus side, his mistake is our gain!

No More Lefty Outfielders?

A quick note from Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, who’s finally on Twitter:

Colletti rules out signing Johnny Damon. He says he might sign RH bat to platoon in LF with Gibbons; that would also rule out Podsednik.

Not that I ever really expected either signing to happen, but it’s good to finally see a rumor we don’t like being shot down, rather than played up. Right?

The more we hear about the outfield situation, the more it sounds like the hope is that Tony Gwynn can hit enough to carry his excellent glove in CF, pushing Matt Kemp to RF and Andre Ethier to LF. Failing that, it sounds like Jay Gibbons and Xavier Paul are really going to get a shot to battle it out in LF, though that may cause some roster issues.

As for signing a RH bat, we all know the pickings are slim. I’ve made my feelings about Lastings Milledge clear, but I suppose it’s also worth revisiting Scott Hairston. I was lukewarm on him when his name came up in rumors a few weeks ago, mostly because he was atrocious in 2010. That said, Joe Pawlikowski of FanGraphs (and River Ave. Blues) made the case today that Hairston compares favorably to Matt Diaz, whom everyone wanted to see in LF.

Diaz’s draw is obvious, since his value comes on offense. He owns a career .348 wOBA and mashes lefties to the tune of a career .387 wOBA. In three of the last five seasons he has eclipsed a .350 wOBA. Any team that needs to balance their lineup to better match up against lefties will find plenty of use for Diaz. Any of the 29, or maybe 28, teams that missed out on him can find similar value in Hairston.

That’s not to say that Hairston’s bat matches Diaz’s in any way. He has a career .320 wOBA, though he does redeem himself against lefties with a .355 career wOBA. Those numbers, however, don’t come particularly close to Diaz’s. In addition, Diaz has hit righties a bit better in his career, a .312 wOBA to Hairston’s .300. It’s clear, then, why Diaz drew more interest. But as we know, offense doesn’t count for the entirety of a player’s value.

On defense Hairston has been the better player in terms of both UZR and DRS. Since 2004 Hairston has accumulated 14.3 UZR and 26 DRS, while Diaz has been quite average, accumulating 1.6 and 2. Even if we throw out the defensive numbers and go with the eyeball and scout test, Hairston easily grades out as the better defender. Hairston’s defensive value has led to seasons that, in some ways, have been as good as, if not better, than Diaz’s. See the chart below:

This isn’t to say that Hairston is a better choice than Diaz. Given the choice between the two players I would take Diaz. His bat has historically been better, and while both players have had injury problems, Diaz’s haven’t been quite as bad — Hairston has hit the DL every year since 2006. But I don’t think the difference between these two has been reflected in the free agent market. Diaz got plenty of bites and ended with a two-year contract. Hairston has received little interest, and hasn’t been mentioned on MLBTR since December 18.

Teams seeking a right-handed platoon bat who can also serve as a fourth outfielder can find value in Hairston. He’s not a starter, and he’s not going to put on a hitting display, but he can be a solid contributor off the bench to a contending team. I’m a little confused as to why he’s received no attention, while seemingly every team wanted Matt Diaz.

I’m still not completely sold on Hairston, in large part because he was so bad in 2010 that he’d need a big bounceback just to even be decent. Still, I hate the idea of going into the season without at least one more right-handed outfielder, and at this point in the offseason Hairston may even be had on a minor-league deal. If he can be had cheaply, I wouldn’t be against bringing him in.

Happy Holidays


…and all I want under my tree is for the Reds or Angels to do us a solid and turn their supposed interest in Scott Podsednik into a real signing, thus taking the never-ending temptation away from Ned Colletti.

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We all like to act as though our favorite team doesn’t get the respect it deserves, I know. Yet Buster Olney’s poll of baseball executives about the top starting rotations in the game seems a bit off, no?

The Phillies got all 16 first-place votes, and the San Francisco Giants — with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner — were an overwhelming pick as the second-best rotation. The results (a first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote was worth four points, etc.):

1. Philadelphia Phillies — 80 points (16 first place votes)
2. San Francisco Giants — 61 points (14 second-place votes, one third-place vote, one fourth-place vote)
3. Tampa Bay Rays — 24 points (including five third-place votes)
3. Boston Red Sox — 24 points (including two second-place votes).
5. Oakland Athletics — 14 points
6. St. Louis Cardinals — 12 points
7. Milwaukee Brewers — 10 points
8. Chicago White Sox — 6 points
9. Atlanta Braves — 5 points
10. Detroit Tigers — 2 points

You’ll get no argument here that the Phillies are the top of the class. Yet shouldn’t the Dodgers, with arguably the deepest rotation in the NL, at least place in the top 1/3 of the sport?

Last week, in the aftermath of the Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum deals, Milwaukee blog The Brewers Bar tried to rank where the new-and-improved Brewer rotation would rank in the league by 2010 WAR (which is admittedly not perfect, as 2011 performances won’t be identical, but close enough). They actually omitted the Dodgers at first as well, until it was pointed out that the 16.7 WAR of the expected LA top five is actually superior to everyone except for the Phillies. That’s right, higher than St. Louis’ 16.0 and San Francisco’s 15.7. You know why? Because while Clayton Kershaw & Chad Billingsley may not be Tim Lincecum & Matt Cain or Chris Carpenter & Adam Wainwright (though you could certainly argue they’re not far off), it takes five men to have a rotation, not two or three.

I mean, Detroit? Sure, I’d love to have Justin Verlander fronting my rotation, and Max Scherzer‘s a quality young arm. Beyond that they have… Rick Porcello, a talented prospect who had nearly a 5.00 ERA last year? Converted reliever Phil Coke?

There’s plenty of reasons to bag on the Dodgers – believe me, I know. Let’s at least give credit where credit is due, and from 1-5 (and even 6), the Dodgers look to have one of the most solid rotations in the big leagues.

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Totally unrelated: we all loved Orel Hershiser, right? The 1988 season that still ranks among the greatest of all time, the scoreless inning streak, the ’88 playoff performance, the 19-3 1985, several quality seasons and postseasons with Cleveland after leaving the Dodgers; put it all together, and it adds up to 51.5 WAR, good for 58th all time among pitchers.

Orel Hershiser’s one of the best pitchers in Dodger history. But he’s not a Hall of Famer, I think we can all agree. That WAR total looks a lot less impressive when you realize that some of the comparable totals around him belong to guys like David Wells, Kevin Appier, Dave Steib, and Andy Pettitte. Those are pitchers who were very successful over a very long period – at times amongst the best in the game – yet fall just short of immortality. The Hall of Fame agreed; Hershiser received 11.2% of the vote in his first year of eligibility in 2006, and that fell to 4.4% in 2007, after which he was removed from the ballot.

The only reason I bring this up is because someone on Twitter – and I completely cannot remember who, so apologies – pointed out that Hershiser is a very similar, and in many ways superior, pitcher to Jack Morris. They each pitched in parts of 18 seasons, and they each are known for superlative playoff performances (Hershiser in 1988 and 1995-97, Morris in 1991). They had identical winning percentages and K/9 rates, and while Morris had more wins, Hershiser beats him in WHIP, ERA+, BB/9, and postseason stats (Morris had quite a few stinkers in October). Despite pitching 700 more innings, Morris gets destroyed in career WAR, at only 39.3 to Hershiser’s 51.5. That puts him in the range of Al Leiter, Tom Candiotti, and Brad Radke.

Orel Hershiser, a superior pitcher, fell off the ballot after just two years. Yet Jack Morris, a lesser performer, made it up to 44% last year in his 10th year, and seems likely to get even closer to induction – if not all the way in – this year. Just remember that when the results are announced.

Hershiser was a very good pitcher who falls short of the Hall of Fame standard. If Morris makes it in, what do you say to Orel?

Winter Meetings, Day 4 (Updated)

Today’s the last day of the winter meetings; thanks for following along. Today is also the Rule 5 draft, and it actually started a few minutes ago.  Let’s get right to the overnight news, and as usual I’ll update this throughout the day.

Update, 9:20am PT:

Jon Heyman with news that’s simultaneously cool and terrifying…

teams most aggressive on greinke are #rangers, #brewers, #dodgers, #bluejays, #nats

I think I’ve said this before, but I just can’t see it. I wouldn’t trade Kershaw for Greinke, and the other Dodger starters don’t make sense. Would a package built around Jerry Sands and Dee Gordon be enough? Probably not, and even if it was, should the Dodgers really be trading offense for more starting pitching?

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Update, 7:56am PT:

Dylan Hernandez with obvious news

#Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said he is looking to add a right-handed hitter who can play left field.

Goddamn right. But who? Matt Diaz and Jeff Francoeur are off the board. We’ve heard rumors of interest in Bill Hall and Austin Kearns. I like Hall, but I’d like him better as an around-the-field utility man; he looks a lot less interesting as just a left fielder. I’d almost prefer Lastings Milledge, I think. If you’re into big offense from older, injury-prone, terrible-fielding players who ought to be a DH – i.e., the Manny role – there’s also Magglio Ordonez, who had a 130 OPS+ last year with Detroit. But he won’t come cheap and he’ll be 37 in January – and as I was surprised to find out today, has never played a single inning in left field. He’s been a RF his entire career, and really should stay in the American League.

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Rule 5 draft…

Dylan Hernandez reports the Dodgers have decided not to select anyone, and that no Dodger prospects were selected in the major-league portion. Minor-leaguer Jamie Ortiz, who neither Dylan nor I have heard of, was lost to the Marlins. (Research shows he’s a 1B who was a 7th-round pick in 2006, and had a .742 OPS as a 21-year-old in low-A ball last year. Snooze.) Minor league catcher Jesse “Fausto” Mier went to Texas, and he had a .686 OPS as a 25-year-old in AA last year. Double snooze. Minor league pitcher Matthew Sartor went to the Giants; he has good K stuff (10.5/9 career), but also had a 1.568 WHIP in A/AA last year, and he’s already 26. Snooze x3.

Tony Jackson:

The Dodgers also remain open to re-signing left fielder Scott Podsednik, who declined his half of a $2 million mutual option after the season but apparently hasn’t found as much of a market for his services as he had hoped.

The club still needs an every-day left fielder despite having signed first baseman-outfielder Jay Gibbons, who will be their primary left-handed pinch hitter, and having agreed in principle on a one-year, $675,000 deal with Tony Gwynn Jr., who will be a backup outfielder.

I know that the winter meetings are all about lies, but Jackson is one of the reporters that I have a good deal of respect for. Besides, who’d bother to lie about Scott Podsednik anyway? So that means I think there’s at least some truth to this, and if so, it’s completely mind-blowing. Even if the Dodgers had zero outfielders, Podsednik’s not a good option; he was less than impressive after arriving last year, and at 35 he’s unlikely to develop power and defense, or sustain on-base skills.

But of course, it’s not just that Podsednik is somewhat useless which is the problem here; it’s that under no circumstances should the Dodgers be going after another lefty outfielder. Even before they signed Gwynn I wanted two righties to platoon with Gibbons and Ethier, but now that Gwynn’s in the mix (and don’t forget Xavier Paul) signing another lefty would just be astoundingly stupid. You’re really only going to have one righty outfielder? You’re going to let tough lefty pitchers eat up everyone else? I’m not going to freak out about this too much if only because there’s absolutely no way it’ll happen, but still: sheesh.

Jackson:

Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said his team still has an interest in re-signing Russell Martin as a multiple-position player even with two other catchers apparently already in the fold, but that Martin, a former Gold Glove catcher, likely won’t get much time behind the plate if he does re-sign with the club.

However, with media reports having surfaced that Martin is being pursued by the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Colorado Rockies — all of whom presumably would want him to catch on at least a semi-regular basis — there now appears to be little to no chance that Martin will return.

This is another idea that kind of makes no sense at all. I was hardly Martin’s biggest fan over the last two years, but I admitted that the poor state of catching in general meant he still had value. If he comes back, that’s fine – perhaps even good, if your alternatives are Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro – but you just can’t bring him back to not catch. His bat plays at catcher because catchers can’t hit; putting his subpar offense at other positions (positions we don’t even know if he can really play) just wouldn’t work. That said, it doesn’t sound like there’s much chance of him returning anyway.

Eric Stephen at TrueBlueLA gives some numbers to an issue I’ve been harping on for weeks….

So far this offseason, the Dodgers have signed five offensive players:

Gwynn and Navarro are pending physicals, but will be official soon enough. Anyway, in 2010 those five hitters combined to hit .233/.299/.395 in 1,475 plate appearances.

Yep. And that doesn’t even take into account returning guys with lousy 2010 OBP, like Casey Blake, James Loney, Matt Kemp, and Jay Gibbons. I’m really going to have to start a “free Jamey Carroll!” campaign just to see some on-base percentage next year, aren’t I?

Winter Meetings, Day 2 (Updated)

Yesterday was a ton of fun, right? As long as you realize that 99% of what you hear is an outright lie, this can be a hilariously entertaining time of year. Just try to remember not to completely kill teams on rumors that may be totally unfounded until the deals actually go down, okay?

Just like yesterday, I’ll keep updating this with Dodger-related news and rumors throughout the day. Don’t forget, there’s an added bonus today, since we expect that Judge Gordon will hand down his decision on the McCourt divorce case.

Updated, 10:30am PST:

Jon Morosi with some news

#Dodgers could sign a RH-hitting OF this week. They’ve looked at Diaz, Frenchy, Billy Hall. #LA

Once #Dodgers sign a new outfielder, Xavier Paul could be available via trade. #LA #MLB

I’ve been saying Paul would be gone for weeks. Still believe it.

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Updated, 8:56am PST:

Well, this is a thing that happened…  (via Molly Knight)

Breaking: Judge in Dodger divorce trial rules for Jamie McCourt, throws out marital property agreement.

Obviously, that’s a decision that will need a lot more analysis, but basically it means that the judge didn’t buy the document that said the Dodgers belong to Frank while the properties belong to Jamie. This is probably good news if you were hoping for a sale, but this is going to drag on forever before anything like that happens.

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Updated, 7:57am PST:

Per Buster Olney, it’s a done deal…

Vicente Padilla and Dodgers have an agreement on a one-year, $2 million deal, pending physical.

Love this, love this, love this. (Now wait for the incentives to add up to $8m).

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Updated, 7:22am PST:

Ken Gurnick with news on Padilla…

The Dodgers and free-agent pitcher Vicente Padilla moved close to agreement on a one-year, $2 million (plus incentives) contract that would bring this year’s Opening Day starter back to the club as a swingman, according to multiple baseball sources. Padilla, who missed time with arm and neck injuries, would essentially become the sixth starter and long reliever, capable of spot starting, pitching multiple innings of relief and even providing insurance for the late innings should closer Jonathan Broxton struggle as he did in the second half this year

If this is the deal – one year, $2m (plus incentives) – then that’s outstanding. I love it, becuase Padilla was excellent at times last year and would provide amazing depth. I’m just shocked that he’d really take such a small guarantee. There’s not better out there for him?

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Original post:

Let’s kick it off with notes from a few of our preferred sources…

Molly Knight:

Source: Dodgers and Padilla getting closer, deal should happen soon.

We’ve been hearing the “Vicente returns” rumors for a while now, and most of them say he’ll be in some sort of hybrid starter/reliever role. Jon Heyman did say yesterday that he’d return to the rotation, but that could just be a communication breakdown over the short form of Twitter. Since you’re obviously not trading Clayton Kershaw or the three guys you just signed, that’d have to mean that Chad Billingsley was on the move, and I just can’t see that happening.

Tony Jackson:

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ search for a left fielder has been narrowed to free agents Matt Diaz and Scott Podsednik and a third outfielder whose name remains a mystery, according to a well-placed source.

I’m not going to say anything here you haven’t already heard me say this week, but the two being in competition makes no sense. Diaz is younger, much more powerful, better at getting on base, and at least as good (if not better) in the outfield. Podsednik is better than Diaz at precisely one thing – stealing bases – but he gets thrown out so much that it’s barely even worth it.

Besides, as I’ve said ad nauseum, the Dodgers need at least one righty outfielder and preferably two to spot for Andre Ethier and Jay Gibbons. Signing yet another lefty outfielder makes no sense at all; with the way the roster is coming together I’m not even sure I’d put Xavier Paul (another lefty, one who’s out of minor-league options) on it right now, but if you do need another lefty Paul is certainly preferable to Podsednik..

As for the “mystery outfielder”? We don’t know for sure, but Knight did mention Austin Kearns yesterday.

Eric Stephen of TrueBlueLA:

On latest @JonahKeri podcast, A’s AGM David Forst said Oakland offered more $$ & more yrs to Jamey Carroll than 2/$3.85m he got from Dodgers

Didn’t expect to be talking much about Jamey Carroll this week, but I believe this qualifies as “news we did not know”.