MOVE #2: DEE GORDON, YOU HAVE NO POSITION
Won a gold glove at second base in 2015?
Centerfield is a more difficult transition than you think?
Get over it.
Hurt your foot?
Then go on the DL. If your only tool is speed, and it hurts too much to run, what good are you?
Accustomed to hitting leadoff?
Your on-base is .288. Be grateful you’re in the lineup at all.
Drawing walks isn’t part of your game?
It had better start to be.
Segura started it?
We’ll deal with him in Move #4 of this series. Worry about yourself.
Dee Gordon took Seattle by storm. The gregarious veteran energized the lineup and the clubhouse… until he didn’t.
I don’t care how well the Seattle media took to Gordon, he was the single biggest reason for the offense’s second half decline—worse for the Mariners than Cano DURING his suspension.
Gordon pre all-star game: .283/301/346
Gordon post all-star game: .241/265/354
Dee Gordon came within one BB of the all-time MLB record for fewest walks per at bat in a single season!!!!
Read that last bit again. I’ll give you a second.
We’re talking about a run-only guy who all but refused to take a free pass!
No wonder former Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd called him “worthless” during a late-season episode of MLB Network’s “MLB Now”.
Dee Gordon’s game is stealing bases, the proverbial wreaker of havoc on the basepaths.
You can’t steal if you don’t get on base? Fairly obvious, right?
Gordon limited himself to 14 steal attempts after the all-star break, succeeding 8 times out of 14. The thirty bags he stole in 2018 proved half the number of his league-leading total from the previous year.
And while I’m piling on, despite a few spectacular defensive plays at second base, Gordon didn’t defend well either. With two years remaining on a 13-million per year contract, the Mariners need more—something—anything better than what Gordon gave them in ‘18.
And so, since I (we) can’t trade him, I propose a different role for the 31-year old.
IT’S TIME FOR DOOOODGER BASEBALL…
Dodger Manager Dave Roberts has guided his team to the World Series in consecutive years. He has embraced analytical managing. But for our purposes today, I wish to focus on one particular strategy he lives to employ.
THE SUPER UTILITY PLAYER
When I was a kid, my hometown St. Louis Cardinals and their wily manager Whitey Herzog had what they referred to as a “secret weapon” in Jose Oquendo. To this day, Cardinal fans refer to Oquendo as The Secret Weapon.
He was a utility player, nothing more. A ballplayer. Ready and willing to be employed anywhere or everywhere to help the team win.
In Kike Hernandez and former Mariner Chris Taylor, Dave Roberts has 2 Oquendos—or is it 2 Oquendi?
The Dodger skipper also plays Max Muncy at first, or third, or secondbase in a pinch. Cody Bellinger is a legitimate defensive weapon at firstbase AND centerfield. Roberts will even play Austin Barnes, his backup catcher, at second.
The game is changing. More pitchers on the roster means fewer position players, which indicates less flexibility in numbers, which suggests a need for MORE flexibility from those on the roster.
Three years ago, I stumped for free agent Ian Desmond who posted a 285/335/446/782 stat line on a 1-year free agent deal with the Rangers.
Two years ago, I wanted to try Chris Taylor and/or Ketel Marte in super utility roles before they were traded.
Last year, I wanted Jerry Dipoto to swing a deal for Kike Hernandez. That didn’t happen.
Point is, I’ve pushed for more roster flexibility for years.
GETTING BACK TO DEE
Dee Gordon has not hit well enough to claim the starting second base job, but I would like to see him play some second base in 2019. After all, I’m beginning Cano’s transition to DH this year. See Move #1.
Dee Gordon did not play well as a centerfielder, but another winter of seasoning should elevate his play. And while you’re out there shagging fly balls in the Arizona sun, you might want to take a few fungos to left field, too.
Dee Gordon is also capable of playing shortstop. We saw that last year. And guess what? The Mariners are going to continue to shift the infield, particularly versus left-handed hitters, which means Gordon will be playing on the right sight of second base, even when the scorecard labels him a SS.
I’ll even let Gordon DH some, and I’ll use him off the bench, and I might even have him a drive the bus on occasion, if that’s what the team needs that given day.
Dee Gordon’s value as a positional player going forward is to have no position at all.