Do The Dodgers Have a Problem At Second Base?

The Dodgers have a problem at second base. The Dodgers don’t really have a problem. This’ll make sense soon, I promise.

Back when the Dodgers signed Cuban Alexander Guerrero for $28 million, I mentioned that some scouts thought his defense was stiff. Thinking that stiff shortstop defense would be fine at second base, maybe I didn’t think that was a big deal. Maybe we all should’ve paid more attention to that facet of the player.

The news has trickled out slowly, but it hasn’t been good. First, Jeff Sullivan identified the position as a problem spot on a contender. Then Mike Petriello pointed out how little safety net the Dodgers had at second base. Then there was a bit of news that the team wasn’t sure about Guerrero’s defense at second. Then someone called the position an open battle, maybe even a platoon situation. Then came the pining for Mark Ellis.

We should have known from the signings alone that something was up at second base: Justin Turner, Chone Figgins, Brendan Harris, Miguel Rojas, and now it looks like Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena are all headed to Dodger camp. Most are minor league signings, but that 23-year-old Cuban shortstop may cost the team another $25 million, and maybe he’s not really in the mix for second base anyway. Point is, they’re worried about second base.

The eventual solution may come with Alexander Guerrero in the minor leagues and a platoon in the major leagues. That would disappointing for most parties involved in bringing the Cuban in. As a 26-years-old, he’s close enough to his peak that the expectation probably was that he’d break camp with the major league team. But, considering he’s adjusting to a new league and a new position at the same time, it wouldn’t be enough to render final judgement on the deal.

The Dodgers paid for Guerrero’s upside over the options. Other than Robinson Cano, the pickings were slim — David Adams, Willie Bloomquist, Luis Cruz, Mark Ellis, Rafael Furcal, Omar Infante, Kelly Johnson, Nick Punto, Brian Roberts and Skip Schumaker all feature lower ceilings than the Cuban at least. So it behooves them to groom him the right way in order to better their chances of seeing that upside. Maybe the minor leagues is the right idea.

After all, a platoon between Dee Gordon and Justin Turner — or, really, pick two names from above, with one including possible lefty hitters Dee Gordon or Chone Figgins — might provide the same production as most of the names on that list above. The fans project Infante for a .310 wOBA and his defense was barely above scratch last year. Turner has a lifetime .305 wOBA which might be improved facing just lefties, and his versatility made him a good non-tender to watch. Dee Gordon has been atrocious so far, but a new position and a new role (he’s only been 14% worse than league average against righties) might work for him. Miguel Rojas has been a slick defender in camp, and the team could use some infield defense up the middle. Maybe Arruebarruena will be ready enough to contribute with the glove right away.

But the point goes beyond what the team actually does at second base this year. This team is stacked at other positions and can afford to ‘figure it out’ at second. Last year, they scored 649 runs, the seventh-most in the National League, and this with a second baseman that was 8% worse than league average with the stick. Our projected depth charts have them above-average at every position but second base. Full(er) years from Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig should help them at least match their offensive total from last year, even if second base takes a step down from the league average that the Ellis-led crew managed last year.

Projections are just projections, but it’s worth noting that only two of last year’s playoff teams had seven above-average position players. Only one was in the NL — the Dodgers. That the Dodgers have good players everywhere (with some depth) has allowed them to gather this group at second base with less heartburn.

The Dodgers have a problem at second base. The Dodgers don’t really have a problem.




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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


43 Responses to “Do The Dodgers Have a Problem At Second Base?”

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  1. David says:

    so trade an OF to the Mariners?

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    • Kevin says:

      would make some sense, although acquiring someone young and controllable like Franklin or Ackley would make for a very weird situation after guaranteeing Guerrero $28mill. kinda like declaring him a bust before he even sees a major league diamond.

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    • The Foils says:

      Someone should’ve suggested that months ago.

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    • DodgersKings323 says:

      Dre

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    • Balthazar says:

      Ackley for Petersen is a deal I’ve been waiting for all off-season. I suspect the Duhdgahs thought they were too All-Star for that. Franklin may well have been asked for, but the answer should be no.

      The Dodgers DO have a problem—for 2014. Maybe some one stands up from the pile of maybe the org’s acquired by next year. It isn’t a given that somebody ‘converts’ from SS to 2B however, certainly guys who haven’t even established that they can play at a major league level. The offseason plan for the org was nutso, and there’s no fall back. Figgins can’t play the position, and can’t play period. Dee Gordon hasn’t shown a whisker of major league performance. We have two international signs who’ve never taken a professional pitch on the continent. And several scrubs who aren’t even that good. I don’t see the Dodgers breaking camp with what they have now, let’s put it that way.

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      • Rich says:

        Cuba is considered part of North America.

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      • Ivdown says:

        Joc Pederson is skyrocketing in value right now, Ackley has bottomed out. It’s not about being “too all-star”, it’s about the trade you suggest not making any sense. Pederson for Franklin makes MORE sense, if anything.

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        • Balthazar says:

          Franklin is a better player than Pederson. No way to that trade. Ackley’s _perceived_ value has bottomed out, yes, and that’s a major problem in doing a deal for him. Fact is, both teams have a need at the positions for which the other team has a player. The Dodgers have a bigger need and are in serious post-season contention. And Pederson has no place to play on his team (which by itself isn’t a reason to trade him, anymore than a reason to trade Franklin).

          If the Dodgers want a black hole at 2B, they’ve got that and they can stand pat upon it. It they want to do something about it, then . . . play ball.

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    • Corey says:

      I like the Mariners AND the Dodgers, I REALLY want this to happen.

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  2. channelclemente says:

    Dodger General Management, a mystery rapped in an enigma.

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  3. DodgersKings323 says:

    Watch your mouth Mister!

    I’m gonna look for the Bleacherreport guy that was on Clubhouse Confidential calling Kemp “broken down” and pimp slap him……….

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  4. walt526 says:

    Could Uribe play 2nd halfway decently? Crazy thought, but sign Drew to play SS and move Ramirez to 3B?

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    • Uribe barely has enough range to play third base, let alone second. And the Dodgers clearly don’t want to give up the draft pick to sign Drew.

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      • Utah Dave says:

        Really? They can’t afford to give up a draft pick?

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        • It has nothing to do with not being able to afford it. With the increased emphasis on developing players, the Dodgers would be foolish to give up a first-round pick for a player like Drew.

          The odds of finding quality major leaguers after the first round are not good. No need to give up a pick for a guy whose value would decrease by playing out of position. Also, they’re paying Guerrero a lot of money. If he isn’t the opening day second baseman, he’ll be up — at the latest — in early June.

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    • Goat Fondler says:

      Uribe was the second best defensive third baseman in the NL last season. Why move him?

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  5. Matt says:

    Puig can do anything, so just move him to 2B. Makes more space for Ethier/Crawford/Kemp/Pederson too.

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  6. pft says:

    Dodgers offense was not so great last year that they can afford a black hole at 2B. They should have went after Cano and let Hanley fly after 2014.

    Frankly, even now, they should go after Drew, have him play 2B and then move him to SS after Hanley leaves. Hanley on a long term deal is not going to produce, his character spells trouble.

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    • Wes says:

      They sputtered through a mire of injuries before the return of Hanley and the Puig call up. They scored the 3rd most runs in baseball in the 2nd half.

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      • Wes says:

        Ooops, wrong filter. 9th most, still better than what they did pre-Hanley Health and Puiging.

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        • pft says:

          I seem to remember that they had 1 pretty good month and then the offense fell off again the last couple of months of the season. From 7/27-9/29 they averaged 3.9 RPG. 6/30-7/24 6 RPG, 4/1-6/29 3.6 RPG. Sputtered in the playoffs too.

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    • Anthony says:

      They’re going to lock up Hanley. It seems inevitable. Han-Ram is a fine person to lock up. He’s younger than Cano and IMO has as much pure talent to fall back on, and will probably come on a shorter-term.

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  7. dp643 says:

    Nick Franklin for Joc Pederson…

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    • Corey says:

      Please! The fact that this hasn’t happened has been by far the biggest shock of the offseason, or Kemp for Franklin since the Dodgers seem to think Kemp is broken and the Mariners don’t seem to mind broken OFs.

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      • Corey says:

        biggest shock of the offseason FOR ME. Meant to include that and didn’t, I won’t speak to what anyone else thinks is the biggest shock of the offseason.

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  8. southie says:

    What’s the diff, they’ll have that division wrapped by August…

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  9. jim S. says:

    Figgins is a switch-hitter.

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      And so he can hit from the left side, which is what I was trying to emphasize.

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      • Kirk Davenport says:

        I got your point on Chone hitting from the left in a platoon – others should have seen it too. I am big Dodgers fan, but I see too many offensive holes to overlook 2B. Catchers are good on defense, but weak on offense. A. Gonzales is losing a little, so is Crawford. You do not know what will be produced from Uribe at the bat. Kemp is almost a complete unknown at the bat and most assuredly will be less on defense. Ethier is in decline and will have an as yet unknown role. Puig came to camp very overweight and they were looking for him to lead off. Hanley Ramirez can be a wild card. The manager gets outmanaged by other teams often. I do not know how anyone can expect too much offensively from the team – thank goodness the pitching is loaded.

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      • Dave says:

        No….he’s a switch hitter, which means he can’t hit from either side.

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    • Seattleslew says:

      Whatever Figgins did in Anaheim was actually a camera trick. I got to see the real Figgins in Seattle and he couldn’t even hit soft toss during batting practice.

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  10. munchtime says:

    Rickie Weeks is available, and it wouldn’t take much to get him.

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    • Balthazar says:

      Nor accomplish anything to have him. He’s worse than most of the guys in the pile at second already, if that’s possible.

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