Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dee Gordon to play OF in winter ball in last-ditch effort to make him valuable

If the Dee Gordon era wasn't officially over yet, it is now. The shortstop (and part-time second baseman in Triple-A) will try his hand in the outfield during winter ball.

Gordon will play center field for Licey in the Dominican Republic. The team's general manager is, purely coincidentally, Manny Acta -- the man I either want to replace Don Mattingly (if he's not officially back, because that isn't totally official yet) or be his right-hand man on the bench (hat tip to Mike Petriello). But I digress.

Gordon is a good example of how volatile prospects can be. Once thought to be the next Jose Reyes (with far less power), now he's going to struggle to have a prolonged Major League career.

Many, including myself, ranked Gordon among the Dodgers' top prospects for a few years. Oops.

His speed was never a question -- dude can run. But that's the extent of his plus tools (or even close to average). The adage is, "You can't steal first base." Once again, that adage holds true.

Gordon's best game came on April 7, 2012, against the Padres. He went 3-for-4 with two walks, three stolen bases and drove in the game-winning run. That is the Dee Gordon everyone was expecting (not every night, mind you, but more often than not). His inability to adjust his game is frustrating. He obviously has a below-average bat and no power, so why not adjust and try to walk more?

If Gordon could even get on base at a .330 clip, he'd be a top 10 shortstop in baseball because he could wreak havoc on the basepaths. He'd steal 50-plus bases with ease. Alas, he did not compensate for his poor bat by walking more, putting himself in this position.

I wrote in January moving Gordon off shortstop would be a bad idea. Now, it's almost a necessity.
"If Gordon isn't traded, he could be the Isotopes' shortstop, because it doesn't make a lot of sense to make a guy with Gordon's potential a utility player so soon.
There's little doubt Gordon could handle the outfield, but any value in his bat goes out the window with a move. His bat is barely passable at shortstop. In his first 143 games, it isn't passable.
Gordon's position won't matter if he doesn't start hitting better -- something else that isn't guaranteed."
Almost everything written above can be said right now. Gordon is a trade candidate, if any team will have him. If he is dealt this winter, he'd likely be a throw-in as part of a bigger package. Teams interested in him last winter include the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners.

But back to Gordon's defense. His defense at shortstop hasn't improved, so he'll need to market himself in another way to remain a potentially valuable major leaguer.

Side note: In 3 2/3 innings at second base this year, Gordon had a defensive run saved. While an extremely small sample size, perhaps his future lies there. It'd be much better than center field.

We'll see what happens. Gordon could become a capable center fielder (because that's the only outfield spot he could conceivably play), but I'm not confident it's going to help his bat.


Here's a full list of Dodgers playing winter ball (those who played in the organization in 2013).

Australia (Adelaide Bite)
James Baldwin
James Campbell
John Cannon
Chris Jacobs
Blake Smith

Dominican Republic
Pedro Baez (Licey)
Angel Castro (Cibaenas)
Kelvin De La Cruz (Cibaenas)
Carlos Frias (Cibao)
Dee Gordon (Licey)
Alexander Guerrero (Cibao)
Elian Herrera (Cibaenas)
Luis Vazquez (Licey)
Rafael Ynoa (Cibaenas)

Matt Angle (Culiacan)
Juan Noriega (Los Mochis)

Puerto Rico
Freddie Cabrera (Mayaguez)
Noel Cuevas (Mayaguez)
Jose DeLeon (Caguas)
Jon Garcia (Santurce)
Matt Magill (Mayaguez)

Eliezer Alfonzo (Magallanes)
Chili  Buss (Lara)
Elevys Gonzalez (Margarita)
Jeremy Hazelbaker (Aragua)
Luis Meza (La Guaira)
Hector Nelo (La Guaira)
Matt Palmer (Magallanes)
Red Patterson (Lara)
Joc Pederson (Lara)
Chris Reed (La Guaira)
Miguel Rojas (La Guaira)

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

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