August 5, 2011
Prospectus Hit and Run
Vortices of Suck, Part II
Because bad baseball so often makes for good copy, we continue the hunt we started on Wednesday, rounding out our "all-star" team of players who have produced tornado-level disasters amid their lineups, often at salaries that represented far more than just a soft breeze running through their team's bank account. These are the Vortices of Suck.
Left Field: Luke Scott (.263 TAv, 0.4 WARP), Felix Pie (.203 TAv, -0.5 WARP) Nolan Reimold (.271 TAv, 0.5 WARP), Orioles
Remedy (?): With one more year of arbitration eligibility, Scott figures to be back next season, if not immediately because of the time it takes for such injuries to heal (ask B.J. Upton, or this reporter, another labrum repair vet). That doesn't mean the O's don't have other options. As Jason Parks wrote yesterday, they have a decent left-field prospect in L.J. Hoes at Double-A Bowie, and is there anything Camden Yards couldn't use besides more Hoes? (Sorry.) A third-round 2008 draft pick whose conversion to second base didn't take, Hoes is a contact hitter with good on-base ability but not a big power threat; he's hitting .326/.389/.455 at Bowie after a slow start at High-A Frederick. He might be worth a September look, although pulling him into the poisonous nightmare that is the Orioles' present otherwise makes no sense. In the meantime, the team should see if Reimold can rediscover some of his lost promise; while he's 27, he's not even arbitration-eligible until after next season.
Center Field: Franklin Gutierrez (.187 TAv, -0.2 WARP), Michael Saunders (.182 TAv, -0.3 WARP), Mariners
Remedy (?): Thanks to the utter ineptitude of Ned Colletti*, the Mariners lucked into Trayvon Robinson at the trading deadline because the Dodgers tried to sidecar onto a deal for Erik Bedard. Helped by the hitter-friendly Albuquerque environment, Robinson hit .293/.375/.563 with 26 homers but just nine doubles before being traded; he doesn't have that much power, and out of concern for his subpar throwing arm, the Dodgers viewed him more as a left fielder. It makes sense for the Mariners to audition him in center while seeing if fellow deadline acquisition Casper Wells can help in left. It's not as though this 48-62 team has much left to lose.
*Thought for the day from the depths of my Dodgers despair: Ten million years from now, when then sun burns out and the Earth is just a frozen ice ball hurtling through space, the differences between Colletti and Buzzie Bavasi won't matter one bit.
Right Field: Ichiro Suzuki (.244 TAv, -0.3 WARP), Mariners
Remedy (?): Ichiro is signed through 2012. Given that he's a gate attraction and that he was still a productive ballplayer a year ago, it makes more sense to reduce his playing time and see if he can recover his productive ways. Getting the aforementioned Wells (.273/.340/.469 in 142 plate appearances) or Mike Carp (.297/.366/.440 in 101 plate appearances) more time in the outfield, even with the latter's defensive shortcomings, might have the dual effect of providing a jolt on Ichiro's days off and giving him enough rest to rejuvenate his bat.
Designated Hitter: Adam Dunn (.225 TAv, -1.8 WARP), White Sox
The Big Donkey has 382 plate appearances thus far, and would seem to be a lock for 400. The lowest single-season batting average of any player with at least 400 plate appearances since World War II is Dal Maxvil with the 1969 Cardinals, followed by Three True Outcomes patron saint Rob Deer (.179) and Ed Brinkman (.185). Deer wins the honors for the lowest batting average of any batting title qualifier (3.1 plate appearances per game, 502 over a 162-game season), followed by Ivan DeJesus in the 1981 strike season (.194) or if you prefer, Tom Tresh in 1968, the Year of the Pitcher (.195). Furthermore, with -1.8 WARP at the two-thirds point of the season, Dunn has an outside shot at our modern record of futility, -3.0 WARP, set by the Brewers' Ted Simmons—a near-Hall of Fame-caliber catcher in his heyday, from which he was far removed—in 1984, and at the very least, he could wind up in the top—er, bottom 10 at -2.5 WARP.
Remedy (?): If I'm Ozzie Guillen, I'd be willing to try just about anything to get Dunn kick-started knowing that he's still got three years at $14 million per remaining on his deal; the goal is to find some level of comfort by the end of this season. Perhaps try DHing Carlos Quentin, who's no great shakes in the outfield, and playing Dunn in right. Or DH Paul Konerko and play Dunn at first, even with the defensive hit there; it's not like Konerko is the second coming of Keith Hernandez. Put Juan Pierre in a crate and send him to Siberia, call up Dayan Viciedo to DH, and play Dunn in left. Sure, he's terrible in the field, but if it gets his bat going, he'll outhit his mistakes. Besides, anyone who has watched Pierre or Alex Rios play defense lately knows that Dunn would have plenty of company out there when it comes to bad outfielding.