There’s been some hubbub about Dee Gordon being converted to an outfielder swirling around online, and the idea of moving him from his natural position of shortstop seems like not only a disastrous mistake waiting to happen but also a waste of talent.
Ken Gurnick asked Ned Colletti and Don Mattingly about Dee Gordon’s future at the winter development camp at Camelback Ranch-Glendale, Arizona this week. “Colletti said the club has discussed internally moving Gordon to the outfield, but Colletti and Mattingly are against it.” Mattingly and Colletti do not want to give up on Dee Gordon as a future starting Dodger shortstop. Dee Gordon was rushed to the Majors after the Dodgers traded away Rafael Furcal to St. Louis. Gordon, albeit an amazing and unique talent, was raw and lacking the development time needed to be a polished Major League shortstop both on the field and at the plate. Gordon hadn’t even began playing baseball until high school, and he had been more into basketball when he was younger. The 24-year old Gordon was selected in the 4th round of the 2008 draft, and he promptly began his professional career at the Rookie level in Ogden. He stole 73 bases and hit .301 in Low-A ball for the Great Lakes Loons in 2009 and was named the Dodgers “Minor League Player of the Year” before being promoted to AA-Chattanooga the next season. In 2010, Gordon hit .277, stole 53 bases, but committed 37 errors in 133 games with the Lookouts.
In 2011, Gordon was assigned to the AAA-Albuquerque Isotopes, but he only played for the ‘Topes for a couple months before Rafael Furcal succumbed to injury. Dee made his MLB debut on June 6,2011 in the top of the ninth inning as a pinch runner. He scored a run in the game versus the Phillies. It was an almost instantaneous excitement surrounding the skinny yet speedy Gordon. We could all see that there was something special about him, and that his speed alone could alter the course of a game. Gordon finished the season with the Dodgers by hitting .304 with 24 stolen bases in 56 games.
There were high expectations of Dee going into the following season as the starting Dodger shortstop. 2012 was a disappointing season for Gordon after struggling at the plate most of the season and then tearing his UCL in his right thumb on July 4th while stealing third base. Up to that point, Gordon was leading the league in stolen bases. While Gordon was recovering from surgery, the Dodgers acquired Hanley Ramirez to play shortstop. Gordon returned to action on September 11th, but his starting spot was essentially gone. He only played in 87 games for the Dodgers in 2012, and his line of .228/.280/.281 combined with his 18 errors at shortstop raised the question of where Gordon fits into the organization now.
Don Mattingly has said earlier during this offseason, that Hanley Ramirez will be starting at shortstop and Luis Cruz will be at third base going into 2013. More than likely, Dee Gordon will be starting the season in AAA where he could hone his often flailing defense and work on his plate approach.
As far as moving him to the outfield, the idea is pretty implausible. For one, Gordon has only played shortstop his entire professional career. Secondly, Gordon’s almost acrobatic ability at shortstop is something special that shouldn’t be wasted. Even though we did cringe often when his throws would go sailing wildly into the stands or he would bobble a ball for an error, there were other moments when he would contort his body in such a way to grab a grounder which would make us all say wow.Then there is his amazing speed. His speed can fluster pitchers, create runs, and when he makes contact with the ball he can turn a seemingly routine single into a double or a double into a triple.
It’s no surprise that Ned Colletti said that there are a lot of teams interested in Gordon this offseason. By sticking with him and allowing for him to overcome his growing pains, the Dodgers will not regret keeping him in the organization. The logical thing to do would be to allow him time to mature and improve, and when he is ready move Hanley Ramirez to third base.
Even if the Dodgers moved Gordon into the outfield, it doesn’t mean the errors wouldn’t follow him out there.