Monday, May 06, 2013

Time To Stand And Dee-Liver

As Bill Shaikin of the LAT writes, this latest call-up may be the last chance for Dee Gordon to show he's major-league material, at least with the Dodgers:

The Dodgers gave Dee Gordon their shortstop job last season, and they had to trade for Hanley Ramirez. When Ramirez was injured this spring, they gave the job to Justin Sellers and sent Gordon to the minor leagues.

With Ramirez injured again, the Dodgers are giving Gordon what might be his last chance to show he can be an everyday shortstop for them.

The Dodgers officially put Ramirez on the disabled list Saturday because of a strained left hamstring, recalling Gordon and inserting him into the starting lineup. Ramirez is scheduled for an MRI examination Monday — and perhaps an injection of platelet-rich plasma — but the Dodgers expect him to miss several weeks.

Gordon, 25, was batting .314 with a .397 on-base percentage at triple-A Albuquerque. He has 14 stolen bases in 16 tries. He also has eight errors in 25 games.

"We wanted Dee to get a full year [at triple A] where he got a chance to work on his game," Manager Don Mattingly said. "It's out of need that he's here. I don't want to say that like it's bad. He could be somebody who comes in here and we take off."

The Dodgers cited defense as the primary reason they turned to Sellers and not Gordon to open the season, when Ramirez was on the disabled list after thumb surgery. Gordon made 18 errors last season, the second-highest total among National League shortstops, even though he played only 79 games.

However, Sellers is batting .194, would-be backup shortstop Luis Cruz is batting .098, and the Dodgers have scored fewer runs than any team in the major leagues except the Miami Marlins.

"If Dee gets on, he creates runs," Mattingly said.

Gordon said he was "not at all" upset when the Dodgers snubbed him this spring and summoned Sellers from minor league camp to replace Ramirez.

"I could have gone to triple A and been a punk about it," Gordon said. "I chose to play."

When the going gets tough, the tough don't go out and be a punk about it. Truer words might have never been spoken (or at least articulated in such an erudite manner).

But Sellers has definitely had his share of opportunities in the first 30 games, and 13-for-68 (.191) with a woeful 46 OPS+ (OPS at .517) isn't going to cut it; certainly not with Luis Cruz standing beside him with an even worse average (.091) and OPS (.207: a -41 OPS+). Sellers has also made three errors in 48 attempts, which is not going to cut it with the glove, either. I like Justin Sellers the person, but he isn't the answer.

So is it Gordon? As we said, in the two games Gordon played this past weekend, 3-for-7 with a triple (OPS of 1.270; OPS+ of 253) isn't a bad start. To be fair, Gordon's OPS+ in 2012 was 56, meaning he was almost as much of a black hole as Sellers is this year. But if Gordon can figure out how to get on base consistently so he can use that heralded speed, as well as be a bit less spastic at short (Gordon hasn't made an error (in the majors) yet last year, but made 18 errors in 186 attempts in 2012--still better than his pace of errors in the minors this year), then he might be a suitable answer, at least temporarily.