Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Keith Law: Guerrier Deal Overlooks Gangrenous Wound

Chavez Ravine is a warm-temperatured stadium location. It is 340 feet above sea level. It is said to be home to one of the most beautiful stadiums in the Major Leagues. Its gleaming jewel is called "Dodger Stadium," the house of Tommy Lasorda and Kirk Gibson. Beyond the left-field fence, there is a tall, block-lettered frozen carcass of a "THINK BLUE" sign. No one has explained how that sign was constructed on that hillside.

Sorry about that epigram. Keith Law's reference of a "gangrenous wound in left field [left to] fester" triggered some high-school English class memories (link insider only). But I digress:

Apparently the three-year deal for the middle reliever is the new black. First Joaquin Benoit, then Scott Downs, and now Matt Guerrier. The Dodgers are happy to let the gangrenous wound in left field fester, but thank goodness the seventh inning is locked down.

I've ranted many times about the folly of signing a middle reliever to any deal beyond two years -- and even two years is fairly risky because you're looking at maybe a 25-30 percent chance the reliever holds his performance through both years of the contract (and roughly half those odds for him to do it for three years). I do like Guerrier for his repertoire and chance to get better against left-handed batters by using his changeup more, but he's 32 years old, appeared in 47 percent of the Twins' games over the last four years, and (per Fangraphs) has lost a mile an hour off his fastball in that time. This is not someone in whom you want to invest multiple years and eight figures.

Besides, is the bullpen even such a concern for the Dodgers?

If there's one thing they have, it's bullpen arms, and while more depth is always better, it's not something you want to pay for. Is Guerrier going to be $3.6 million better than Kenley Jansen this year -- or next year? Chris Withrow has an electric arm but has had command problems for most of his pro career; why not move him to the pen and bring him up rather than have him spend 2011 in Albuquerque, one of the worst pitchers' parks in organized baseball?

Free agency isn't a good way to build a bullpen, but doing it that way when the Dodgers' amateur scouting team continues to stuff the organization with power arms is just nonsensical.

I don't agree with Law in saying that the Dodgers don't have bullpen concerns, not after last year. But we sure do seem stocked with arms of some sort, and yet every couple of days it seems we're picking up another pitcher (or 75-year-old utility retread batter). Guerrier's signing doesn't seem like the right priority at this stage of the game.

Law goes on to bash the Yank-Mes for signing Russell Martin, so it's good times all around for Dodgers past and future. Just thinking about all of this evokes visions of tragic, unfulfilled potential.

10 comments:

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

3-year deals for middle relievers are the new 7-year deals for outfielders.

Rob said...

Fate? I'm writing my final paper tonight on Snows...

Steve Sax said...

@Rob: Dude, how many other Dodger blogs are going to give you Hemingway allusions?

But if you need help on the paper, you should email us and ask for Orel's help. He nails literary meaning and symbolism.

Steve Sax said...

It is very early right now.

Fred's Brim said...

or very late...
what are you up to, Saxy?

Fred's Brim said...

not busy working on the 6AM post, that's for sure!


sorry :)

Steve Sax said...

@FB: ah shit, ya got me...

Eric Karros said...

@Rob - Or, if you haven't submitted it yet and want us to post it for constructive critique from our readers, just email it over.

Eric Karros said...

I'm pretty sure they'll at least catch any grammar errors.

Steve Sax said...

@Rob: I second the EK proposal. I would be happy to at least publish your first couple paragraphs...