Monday, December 30, 2013

Dee Gordon could get one final shot to be a valuable player with the Dodgers

Dee Gordon shows the volatility that are prospects. He was once the Dodgers' top prospect, drawing comparisons to guys like Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins. Now, he's struggling to hang on as a utility player in the majors.

With Alexander Guerrero's injury concerns in the Dominican Winter League, perhaps Gordon gets one more shot as a starter in the majors -- at second base with the Dodgers.

Gordon began the offseason by going to the Dominican to play the outfield with Licey. He played primarily center field, but also dabbled in the corners. He handled himself well enough, reportedly, as he surely has the athleticism to handle the outfield. The bad thing is, his bat doesn't play especially well out there. He's a career .256/.301/.312 hitter in 669 plate appearances, which leaves a lot to be desired.

He's now playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League in hopes of him acclimating himself at second base. He played 20 games at second in Triple-A last year and three with the Dodgers (totaling 3 2/3 innings).

The question isn't particularly with his bat, but with his glove. He was a below-average shortstop. Second base isn't terribly different than shortstop, but a player still needs to be sure-handed at the position. That, and inaccurate throws, were Gordon's bugaboos at the position. A shift to second base should, in theory, cut down on the throwing errors. His arm is plenty strong, but sometimes he doesn't know where it's going.

With Guerrero's hamstring injury preventing him from playing a full winter ball season, second base could be wide open for Gordon's taking.

There is no other viable second base option beyond Gordon and Guerrero on the Dodgers' roster -- even in the minors. Sure, General Manager Ned Colletti mentioned Miguel Rojas by name in a radio interview, there's no earthly way Rojas breaks camp as the Dodgers' opening day second baseman. The Dodgers don't need an offensive powerhouse at second, but thinking Rojas -- a career .234/.302/.287 hitter in the minors -- could be the team's opening day second baseman is borderline clinical.

As of now, it's Gordon's job for the taking. It's entirely possible the Dodgers acquire someone to play a couple months as the starting second baseman while Guerrero gets more seasoning in the minors (preferably Triple-A). But Gordon being able to handle the position would make things a lot easier, and increase his utility.

Of course, the Dodgers not picking up Mark Ellis' option (would have cost them an additional $4.75 million) and them not retaining Nick Punto looks like a mistake right now. What do they say about hindsight and 20/20...?

If Gordon is ever going to amount to anything other than a mediocre utility player (which is isn't, at the moment), this could be his last shot at doing so. He could bat eighth, not make mind-numbing errors at second and be a player who provides positive value (or at the very least, replacement level value), then the Dodgers would be more than thrilled. But I'm not holding my breath.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't for the life of me understand why on Earth the Dodgers would let go all three middle infielders (Schumaker, Punto and especially Ellis - a machine at second base), knowing full well that Gordon has been all over the place except as a fabulous base stealer (so it doesn't seem like hindsight). Perhaps they've been figuring on Guerrero taking over, or trading Kemp, for, who knows, Brandon Phillips? The Dodgers flopped miserably before and after their 42-8 run, so I'd think they'd shore up some key areas, or leave things alone that were working. Well that's why Colletti gets the big bucks. Maybe he can turn Ethier into a left handed 2B?