I don’t want to ignore last night’s win, which for all the doom-and-gloom around here, was actually the 5th win in the last 7 games – despite a less than stellar outing from Hiroki Kuroda. Andre Ethier continues to be a destroyer of worlds, and Jonathan Broxton showed once again that he’ll do just fine if you actually let him pitch more than once a week. All well and good. It’s just that with Jeff Weaver (last night’s winner, despite throwing just 6 pitches) and Manny Ramirez coming off the disabled list, two players had to be removed to make room for them. And even though we all knew exactly what was going to happen – that it would be John Ely and Xavier Paul – the fact that it actually did go down this way is no less disappointing. To recap, this is what I said yesterday, in advance of either Weaver or Manny being activated:
Could it be that this is finally the end of Ramon Ortiz? A man can dream. Plus, Xavier Paul got on base three times last night and stole a base, while Garret Anderson flew out as a pinch-hitter. With Manny coming back this weekend as well… well, I won’t get my hopes up. Let’s just say, if I could get rid of both members of the “old guy DFA tracker” at the same time, life would be good.
Now let me be completely clear; I never in a million years thought that the right moves here (dumping Ramon Ortiz and Garret Anderson) would both happen. That’s just not the m.o. of this team. But after Ely’s 7K/0BB outing while taking a shutout into the 7th, and Paul’s outstanding productivity, it wasn’t too much to think that just one of these things could happen, right?
Let’s start with the more egregious offense, keeping Anderson over Paul. Garret Anderson, as you’ve read here so many times, is done. Cooked. Unplayable. I mean, I know it’s a small sample size, but his OPS+ is 4. Four. He’s got two hits in the last three weeks. In his last 30 plate appearances, he’s got 2 hits and 1 walk against 9 strikeouts. He offers zero value in the field, and he’s actually making me yearn for Mark Sweeney at the plate. Paul, on the other hand, has been outstanding. Since an 0-5 in his first game, he’s been killing it: .333/.385/.583, with 3 stolen bases and a strong arm in the outfield.
So what’s the rationale here? Sure, some would say that Paul needs to play every day in the minors, but I disagree. This isn’t a raw prospect like Dee Gordon or Trayvon Robinson here. Paul’s 25 years old, and no one expects him to take over a starting job next year. His ceiling with the Dodgers is likely as a 4th outfielder anyway, so why not let him do it right now? No, the reason is something much more ridiculous: Joe Torre liked Anderson’s RBI single the other night.
“Hopefully that gets him started,” said Manager Joe Torre. “That was a nice situation for him. That’s the experience he showed you there. Not trying to do too much, just serving the ball the other way.”
That single, by the way, was a softly hit ball up the middle that scored a run in a game the Dodgers would lose 11-3. It’s not that I didn’t see this coming; immediately after I wrote on Twitter:
I’m happy that Garret Anderson just put an RBI on the board for the Dodgers, but less so that the hit probably bought him another month.
And… that’s exactly what’s happened. With the start the Dodgers are off to, every game counts even more. And the Dodgers chose to keep the far, far inferior player just because he’s got creamy veteran goodness. Or pictures of Joe Torre abusing a horse, I don’t know.
On the pitching side, choosing Ortiz over Ely isn’t quite as bad, but it’s still pretty terrible. You could make the case that since Ely had just started, you’d prefer to have an extra arm in the pen for the next few days. Which is fine, but what it now means is that (since Ely can’t be recalled for 10 days unless another pitcher goes on the DL), Ely’s Tuesday start will have to be taken by Carlos Monasterios (with Ortiz probably backing him up)… thus depleting your bullpen anyway. I’m not saying Ely’s the next big thing – he’s hardly a top prospect – but of his 13 innings this year, 10 have been scoreless. His last start was arguably the best one the Dodgers have seen in two weeks, and this is a team desperate for pitching.
So you send Ely down in order to hang onto Ramon Ortiz… who’s got a 5.71 ERA. And a 1.327 WHIP. And a 4.2 BB/9 and 6.2 K/9, neither of which are great . He’s allowed a run in 7 of his 12 appearances this year, including a homer in his last outing. He’s not getting better. He’s a failed experiment, just like Anderson. Yet, he remains while a superior younger player goes down.
There’s no shortage of blame for the Dodgers terrible season so far this year, as we’ve seen, and a fair share of it goes to underperforming players. Let’s just not forget these indefensible roster decisions, because the Dodgers are choosing to not go with the best 25-man-roster they have available, for reasons known only to them.
Update: Josh S., in the comments, points out Paul’s reaction to being sent down:
“I don’t fit here right now, that’s it,” Paul said after being consoled by teammates Casey Blake and Matt Kemp. “Right now, I just don’t cut it here.”
Paul said he was told by general manager Ned Colletti to work on his mental approach to the game “and being a big leaguer.”
So as if being sent down for a player who’s clearly worse than he is wasn’t bad enough, that’s the feedback he gets from the team after doing basically everything right. Disgusting.