Someone Buy Delwyn Young a Copy of “Caddyshack”

And not because it’s one of the best movies of all time. Okay, not just because it’s one of the best movies of all time, but because it contains a valuable lesson within – besides the proper recipe for a “Cannonball”.

Look, I’m not blind to the obvious. Despite my pleas to not expose Delwyn Young to waivers on more than one occasion, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the Dodgers are going to keep just four outfielders, and give the last spot on the bench to Doug “Eyechart” Mientkiewicz, who along with Casey Blake would apparently serve as 5th and 6th outfielders. I don’t particularly have a problem with Eyechart per se; he’s an excellent defensive 1B and a decent hitter – he’s not without his uses. I just happen to think that he’s a poor fit on a club that already has a lefty-swinging 1B with a good glove in James Loney, but apparently the club doesn’t agree. Either way, while I still disagree, any question about whether Eyechart was making the club had to have been answered with this quote in the LA Daily News:

Mientkiewicz is hitting .300 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 18 spring games. He can play both left and right field, first base and to some extent third base. He also proved himself as a left-handed pinch-hitter with Pittsburgh last season. But Torre said the real intangible is his clubhouse presence.

“Having a little history with him and knowing what he does not only on the field but in the clubhouse, it’s certainly appealing,” said Torre, who managed Mientkiewicz with the New York Yankees in 2007 and against him when Mientkiewicz was a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2004.

Uh oh, he’s not only a Torre guy, but we’ve now entered “intangibles” and “clubhouse presence” territory – fantastic! Isn’t that how we ended up with Tanyon Sturtze? I suppose that means welcome to the team, Dougie.

caddyshack_-_chase_dangerfield.jpgAnyway, back to Delwyn Young, who – as you must know by now – we’d hate to see cut, mostly because of his solid track record of hitting in the minors, and partially because you always want to see a guy who grew up a Dodger fan make the team. There’s no doubt he’d get claimed if he were exposed to waivers, so if he doesn’t make the team (and if they keep only 4 OF, he won’t – thanks, Juan!) there’s only one way to keep him around, and that’s to place him on the disabled list. Progress has already been made in that respect, as he already went in for an MRI on his surgically repaired elbow last week, and is scheduled to see a specialist today (from the same story above).

All of which brings us back to “Caddyshack”. I don’t doubt the severity of Young’s injury – after all, he did have surgery on it – but if you want to keep Delwyn in Dodger blue, you best hope that his elbow lands him on the DL, because if he’s not there, he’s in another uniform. That will at least buy a few weeks and perhaps a minor league rehab stint, and who knows what can happen in that time? Another player could get hurt, or the gods could smile upon us and Juan Pierre could get moved. Well, that’s not likely, but a man can dream, can’t he?

So let’s take a lesson from the great scene in ”Caddyshack” (awful quality, poorly edited clip on YouTube here) where Rodney Dangerfield’s Al Czervik, badly losing in a high stakes golf match, richochets a shot off his own arm, and sensing an opportunity, claims that it’s broken so that he can be replaced with the superior golfing of the caddy, Danny Noonan. Delwyn, this could be you! Someone call Dr. Beeper! Remember, your elbow hurts! You must be on the DL. 

On another topic, hey Shawn Estes – you must have been something before electricity. But apparently he’s trying to make fourteen dollars the hard way, now that he’s gone back to minor league camp to become a left-handed reliever, and Beyond the Boxscore takes a look at whether he’s got the chops to make it happen. Be warned, you will probably need to be the offspring of both a brain surgeon and a rocket scientist to wade through the numbers they put up, but here’s the upshot:

So, Estes as a LOOGY.  I’m not so sure.  He’s not someone you want to bring in with the bases jacked, that’s for sure.  Maybe long relief, but a situational specialist sounds like a stretch.

I’m pretty sure that we didn’t need advanced statistical review to know that Shawn Estes isn’t very good, but I like knowing that we have facts to back it up.

That Other Pitching Battle

While trying to ignore the mounting evidence that a Delywn Young-sized mistake is about to be made, let’s not forget to focus on another roster battle that’s coming down to the wire, and for once I don’t mean #5 starter – #2 lefty reliever. You thought the fight for that last starter role featured some awesome names? At least you’d heard of Eric Milton, Shawn Estes, and Claudio Vargas, even if you shuddered at the mention of their names. These are guys even I’d barely ever heard of before this spring. With “notable” lefty contenders Carmen Cali, Stephen Randolph, Brent Leach, and Victor Garate already shipped off to minor league camp, here’s what we’re looking at…

brianmazonespring.jpgBrian Mazone:
a 32-year-old who’s yet to make his Major League debut? Oh yeah, off to a great start here. He went undrafted in 1998 and made it into 20 games for Atlanta’s A-ball team that year, before spending five of the next six seasons in independent ball, with the 6th lost to arm surgery. He finally made it back to organized ball in 2003 and has been bouncing around the minors (mostly as a starter) ever since, going 9-12 with a 4.10 ERA for Philadelphia’s AAA team last year. That was actually his worst season of the last few years, but I’m not exactly sure if that’s a good thing or not.

Mazone’s actually been very good so far this spring, allowing no runs and just 2 hits in 6.1 innings. You’d think that in a competition which is so lousy that, well, Brian Mazone can still be a top contender for the crown, a line like that would get you a good chance. Except that Tony Jackson disagrees:

Mazone pitched the eighth inning and stranded a runner on third. He now has pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings, spread over eight appearances, this spring. He also is a left-hander. And the Dodgers NEED a left-handed reliever. But this guy probably will begin the season at abq.

I’m sure there’s a good reason for that, but damned if I know what it is. Moving on…

Erick Threets: Threets comes over from the dark side, having been in the Giants system since entering pro ball in 2001. He does actually have some MLB experience, though it was pretty monumentally bad: 16 hits and 12 walks allowed in 12.1 innings over the last two years. His minor league stats aren’t all that much better – he seems to be Greg Miller light in terms of Ks and BBs, because in 398.2 career IP he’s whiffed 370 (that’s good!) and walked 286 (that’s bad!). And yes, the frogurt is also cursed.

Threets hasn’t been as good as Mazone this spring, allowing 3 earned runs in 4.2 innings, though striking out 8 in that time is pretty nice. To be honest, while I like a guy with the stuff to miss bats, do we really want to be seeing this guy come in and walk half the league? Not what you want out of a guy who’s supposedly going to be your lefty specialist.

Shawn Estes: ugh, him again? That’s right, just a day after being told he had lost his shot at the 5th starter role and could choose between the minors or being released, he’s gone with door #3: reinvention as a lefty reliever.

Veteran starting pitcher Shawn Estes agreed to report to the Dodgers’ Minor League camp on Monday to attempt a transition to left-handed-relief specialist.

Estes, cut on Sunday with a choice of reporting to the Minor Leagues or receiving his release, said the compromise was raised in a meeting he had on Sunday with general manager Ned Colletti. The Dodgers have been unsuccessful in finding a second left-handed reliever to complement Hong-Chih Kuo.

Really? I mean, I don’t mind giving the guy a shot in minor league camp, but how many times have we been over this? He’s almost never been very good in the bigs, and he’s been downright awful this spring. He’s done. Cooked. Over. Finito. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. No matter whether or not the biggest competition are guys like Brian Mazone and Erick Threets. 

So the solution is…

willohmanbraves.jpgJust sign Will Ohman already! I was calling for this as far back as last October, when I included him as part of my 2009 plan:

Ohman’s a 31-year old lefty reliever and Pepperdine alum who’s made it into at least 56 games in each of the last four seasons with the Cubs and Braves, with ERA+ marks of 151, 112, 94, and 112. Plus, he’s absolutely murder on lefties (.571 OPS against in 2008), which makes him unlike Beimel (who’s actually harder on righties) and Kuo (who kills everyone, but isn’t really a situational kind of guy).

Joe Torre spent most of last year trying to turn Beimel into a situational lefty, which he never was, so why not just sign a guy who’s clearly good at it? Makes sense to me. Plus, the price is right, because according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark:

Last I heard, the last of the free-agent left-handers, Will Ohman, was looking for a one-year deal in the neighborhood of $1.75 million, with easily reachable incentives that could add close to another $1 million on top of that. Also hearing Ohman wants to stay on the West Coast. So with the Dodgers not interested in approaching that price, the Padres and Giants would seem to be the teams at the front of this line.

You know what? I’m usually not in favor of giving much money to relievers, but in this case it’s worth it. Not only is this a big need for the Dodgers (and not just because Mazone and Threets are the alternatives – what happens when, not if, when Kuo goes on the DL? You’ll still need those guys later.) After an off-season in which Ned Colletti clearly established he’s trying to win now, are we really going to let a measly $1 million or so stop us from getting the quality lefty reliever we so desperately need?

Free James McDonald! And, Save Delwyn Young!

So! I go away for the weekend and…

* Shawn Estes gets cut. Finally! Of all of the old and busted veterans brought in to compete for the #5 role, he was by far the least effective, so the only surprise here is that it took this long. Oh, sure, there’s still the question of whether he chooses to go to Albuquerque or take his release, but does that really matter? I particularly like the way Ken Gurnick framed Estes’ delusions vs. reality in the story:

“It’s disappointing and a little shocking, to be honest. I still feel I’ve got a lot left in the tank, I’ve got the stuff to get big league hitters out and still feel I can be a starter.”

Estes pitched two scoreless innings Saturday, then couldn’t get out of a third inning, allowing a pair of runs. He has an 8.44 ERA in five Major League exhibition games, allowing 19 hits in 10 2/3 innings and a .380 opponents batting average.

 Well, Shawn, you’re right. What could the club possibly have been thinking?

mcdonaldspring.jpg* James McDonald is the man! I’ve been hoping that McDonald would win this competition for some time (see: here and here) but I never really thought he’d have a prayer. But after blowing away Cleveland yesterday, facing the minimum nine batters over three innings, he’s squarely put himself in the mix – and if you believe Tony Jackson, McDonald’s actually in the lead. I’ve always felt the reason that they didn’t want McDonald winning the spot is that the team preferred to not have 3/5 of its starting rotation being under 25, though of course I would love that. Besides, as I mentioned previously, McDonald’s not that young – just a few months younger than Billingsley. He’s been the Dodger Minor League Pitcher of the Year in each of the last two seasons, and considering that the 5th starter spot comes up only four times in April, isn’t that the perfect time to get him going? Let’s go James!

* Eric Milton implodes! After Jason Schmidt was officially scratched from the competition because there’s not enough time to get his stamina up, I’d figured that Milton was the front-runner thanks to his mediocre spring. Yes, “mediocre” – that’s what qualified for winning this thing. Until…

Milton also allowed one earned run over three innings, but it looked a lot worse — as he actually allowed eight runs, though seven were unearned due to a pair of errors, one of them his. He gave up six hits, including one home run and two doubles. It was his second consecutive shaky outing, and the third such performance in his past four appearances.

“You know, in that inning, we didn’t play very well behind him,” Torre said. “But he got hit pretty hard.”

Well, thanks for playing Eric. We have some lovely parting gifts for you at the door. 

* Josh Lindblom is awesome! Are we sensing a trend here? Something along the lines of “old, busted dudes need to step aside so that young, talented players can contribute”? Oh sure, I’m specifically just talking about McDonald & Lindblom vs. Estes & Milton right now, but how many times have we been over this through the years? Just the thought of “Luis Gonzalez vs. Andre Ethier” makes my blood run cold.

Anyway, Lindblom is the new “it” guy in camp, taking advantage of his surprise promotion to big league camp by putting down six of seven hitters in each of his two appearances. He’s only 21, with just 34 pro IP under his belt, and a year ago he was the closer at Purdue, so he’s not going to win the 5th starter competition – though his name is in the conversation. Honestly, he’s been a Dodger for such a short time and in such low levels that he’s one of those guys you just don’t know all that much about. Check out his prospect profile over at FNCN for more info, but know this: I’ll take a talented 21-year-old over a has-been/never-was 35-year-old eight days a week, and “veteran goodness” be damned. Talent > experience. Don’t believe me? Now paging the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, please step to the white courtesy phone.

* Juan Pierre toys with my emotions! Well, more accurately, Joe Cowley of the Chicago-Sun Times, who Twittered:

We’re hearing Juan Pierre could be South Side bound. Not the most reliable source, however.

First of all, can we all agree that Twitter sucks? It’s completely stupid, and the fact that some people are calling it a “Google killer” is absolutely mind-blowing. Second of all, is there a way to link to a specific post on it? If not, it makes blogging harder. (Well, that was quick. Amanda chimes in with the answer about 30 seconds after I posted this. Thanks!) Anyway, of course Cowley soon rescinded that statement, because who in their right mind would want to trade for Juan Pierre? I never expected it to be true, but even the thought of it got my heart racing.

If the White Sox were into it, I’d trade them the 1959 World Series as long as they took Pierre too. 

* Hang on to Delwyn Young! I tried to start a “Save Delwyn Young!” campaign last week, and Delwyn’s plight appears to be in the public eye, because now Jon @ DodgerThoughts has picked up on both Tony Jackson and Ken Gurnick commenting on it:

Manny Ramirez will need regular backup in the outfield this season, either to protect a) him from injury or b) the Dodgers from late-inning fielding mishaps. Nevertheless, Tony Jackson of the Daily News and Ken Gurnick of suggest the Dodgers might carry only four pure outfielders on opening day, because Doug Mientkiewicz and Casey Blake could also serve as backup outfielders. 

That makes Jackson think out-of-options Delwyn Young might be a casualty as a result, even though Young continues to have a solid enough Spring Training that should have done nothing to dissuade the team that he could be of value as a pinch-hitter.

I can’t even comprehend how much of a mistake this would be. While I could go on and on about how the team should keep only eleven pitchers, that ship has long since sailed, so we’ll skip that. The team is going to have five bench players, three of whom are Brad Ausmus, Mark Loretta, and Pierre. That’s set in stone: got it. Plus one more infielder who can play shortstop, so that’s Blake DeWitt, Chin-Lung Hu, or Juan Castro. Which means your choice for that last man may come right down to these three contenders:

1) A switch-hitting 27-year-old who’s done nothing but tear up the minors. (Young)

2) A lefty-swinging 35-year-old first baseman who’s not without his uses, but is somewhat redundant on a team that already has a lefty-swinging first baseman – and don’t give me this “is a backup outfielder” business, because 13 career games over 11 seasons isn’t that convincing. (Eyechart)

3) A 37-year-old middle infielder, and it doesn’t really matter what handedness he is because he hits like he has no hands at all. His career offensive numbers are atrocious, and while I don’t mind the idea of a good defender at those spots, guys like that aren’t exactly difficult to come by. And no, I don’t care that he’s hitting .475 this spring. That doesn’t undo 14 seasons of a 56 OPS+. (Castro) 


The Battle For The Fifth Starter

(sidenote: I currently have the top three most recommended stories on the MVN home page. Thanks to everyone who clicks “recommend” at the bottom! I love that.)

With Manny finally back in the fold, the Dodger lineup is as set as it’s been in years. There’s no platoon situations here, there’s no wondering about which corpsey old outfielder is going to take playing time away from a gifted youngster, there’s no merry-go-round at the infield corners mainly involved with trying to keep Nomar healthy. Really, the only questions still outstanding involving the position players are 1) will Juan Pierre still be here on Opening Day? and 2) who gets the second backup IF slot behind Mark Loretta? (My prediction as of today: “yes” and “Juan Castro”. I know.)

sm1082cripplefightpostefk7.jpgMeanwhile, on the mound, there’s a cast of thousands trying out for the fifth starter role – and it’s quite the entertaining group. Yes, there’s a stats chart down there over to the right, and yes, I know how meaningless spring stats can be, particularly in such small sample sizes. Well, guess what? It’s still there, just because it’s part of the discussion. Assign your own value to them. 

The Old & Busted

Jason Schmidt. The clear favorite if only due to his past success and enormous contract, Schmidt has somehow made it this far without having to undergo more surgery. At this point, you’d think he’d be more bionic than “The Six Million Dollar Man”… and about eight times as expensive. Ugh. (Note to self: insert cool 70s “bowaghaghagh” sound effect into video of Schmidt throwing fastballs.)

Anyway, the early reports on Schmidt in side sessions and “B” games had him looking relatively decent, if not a little wild, and reporting soreness, but more along the lines of “I haven’t pitched in two years and I’m an old man” rather than “my arm is held together with duct tape and chewing gum”.

Schmidt finally made his debut in an “A” game on Monday against Texas, and breezed through the first inning, allowing just a single on twelve pitches. The second inning was a little rougher, allowing a three-run homer to Taylor Teagarden, but considering it was his first real outing in twenty-one months, we’ll take it – plus, he did strike out two in that frame. 

In addition, Tony Jackson adds that…

Joe Torre admitted after the game that the fifth starter’s job is Schmidt’s to lose, and that if he continues to show that he is healthy and that he can be effective the rest of the spring, he’ll be the guy. 

Odds: 2-1, if he’s still in one piece by April.

Shawn Estes. I think ESPN’s Keith Law sums this up well enough:

Guillermo Mota and Shawn Estes: I don’t even see why these guys are in Dodgers camp, let alone on the roster (as Mota is), for a team favored to win its division. James McDonald should be the fifth starter over Estes (sitting around 85 mph Saturday), and guys like Ramon Troncoso and Scott Elbert should be considered for the ‘pen ahead of Mota.

Not that I really have a problem with throwing some non-roster invites to some guys to see what sticks at no risk whatsoever, but I couldn’t agree more. Estes only has 49 innings over the last three seasons, and don’t be fooled by his 15-8 record for the 2004 Rockies; he wasn’t
 very good that season (5.84 ERA) and hasn’t been league average since 2001. Hell, even that spring09pitchingstats.jpgyear he was only league average on the nose (same goes for the year before) and in fact, has only had one season in his entire career in which he’s been above average: his big 19-5 debut for the 1997 Giants.

Plus, so far this spring? 6 earned runs and 10 hits allowed in 5.1 innings, for a 10.13 ERA. Bad spring + lousy history + 85 mph = enjoy that bus ride home, Shawn. Odds: Vegas would be taking this one off the board.

Eric Milton. Like Estes, Milton is a lefty who hasn’t pitched much in the bigs over the last few years and was never all that good when he was healthy. Unlike Estes, Milton’s been pretty decent so far in camp. He followed Schmidt against Texas on Monday, allowing just two hits over three scoreless innings. For the spring, he’s allowed just three runs over 8.2 innings with a nice 7/2 K/BB ratio. I still expect Schmidt to get the role, but if not, might we see Milton stick as a long reliever? Odds: 10-1.

Claudio Vargas. I had a whole section on Claudio Vargas written out, mostly about how unlike Milton, Estes, and Weaver, he was given a major-league contract rather than just a spring training invite. But all that’s out the window after Monday, because Claudio Vargas has committed the unthinkable: he allowed a home run to our favorite fat sack of crap, Andruw Jones. That alone should disqualify him – and if it doesn’t, the three other homers he’s allowed in just 8.1 innings so far ought to. Odds: Andruw Jones’ weight times a hundred-to-1

Jeff Weaver. Yes, he’s in camp fighting for a bullpen role, officially. He still fits in this section, though, because unlike everyone we’ve discussed so far, he’s actually had success as a Dodger. And yes, that includes Jason Schmidt. Weaver hasn’t pitched much so far, but he’s been relatively effective in starting off with three scoreless innings. I actually hold out a bit more hope for him than I do for some of these other guys, because unlike those who haven’t been good in ten years, Weaver was effective as recently as 2005. Oh, sure – he’s been brutal since, bottoming out with an ERA over 5 in AAA last year, but he at least has a decent reason for his struggles: he’s been lazy:

The Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez reports Los Angeles Dodgers P Jeff Weaver admitted he didn’t work as hard as he should have after winning the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. ‘Sometimes you start taking things for granted and think that your natural ability is going to make you successful,’ Weaver said. ‘This winter, I worked my tail off.’

Grasping at straws? Sure. The kind of story you hear at this time of the year constantly? Oh, hell yeah. Still, he’s given up just one run in four innings so far. We’ll see if it’s true. Odds: 200,000-1 as fifth starter, 20-1 as reliever.

The New Hotness

James McDonald. I know, Rick Honeycutt all but announced that McDonald would start off in the bullpen, just like Chad Billingsley. It doesn’t change my opinion that he’s the man I’d like to see in the role more than anyone else listed here, so I’m still including him for comparison’s sake. The thing to remember here is that, even though most casual fans have been hearing about Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw about ten times longer than they have McDonald, James is just three months younger than Billingsley and 3.5 years older than Kershaw. The point is, he’s not that young, and we all remember how impressive he was in his stint in the playoffs last year. He’s off to somewhat of a rough spring start, allowing 4 earned runs in 5.2 innings, but that 5/0 K/BB ratio is tasty. I don’t really mind starting off our young pitchers in the bullpen, but I also don’t think that making him the 5th starter is really unfair to his development, either. Odds: 100,000-1, despite probably being the best candidate.

Ramon Troncoso. Troncoso was always the longest of long shots, as he only started 6 of his 156 minor league games (none since his first pro year in 2005), and was basically the last man out of the bullpen in his rookie year in LA last season. However, we did start hearing reports that he was attempting to convert to starting in the winter leagues this year, and looked pretty decent in doing so. There was probably nothing he was going to be able to do to win this job anyway, but he’d have had to really stand out to even give himself a chance – and allowing three earned runs in his first three innings, while striking out just one against three walks isn’t really going to do it. Odds: Even longer than Shawn Estes, and Shawn Estes is horrible.

And Featuring Eric Stults as “Eric Stults”

Eric Stults. We’ve always been big fans of Stults around here – I mean, have we forgotten how thoroughly he dominated the 89-win White Sox in a shutout in June? The fact that he had a 122 ERA+ in his 38 innings last year? The mystery of Stults’ 2008 is one which we’ve yet to explain, because he was very good in four of his five starts before committing the apparently unforgiveable sin of giving up 3 earned runs in 3.2 innings with an 11 run lead in Colorado, after which he was never heard from again. You’d think that at 29, you’d want to see what you can wring out of him. For some reason, the team has never looked upon him as more than a 9th starter, and now that he’s started off his spring by allowing 6 earned runs in 4.1 innings, he doesn’t look to be changing that impression. Odds: 250-1

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.