Remember Elian Herrera? Whatever happened to him? I mean, I know he’s at Camelback Ranch right now, but has anyone considered him for a bench position recently? I don’t see any reason why, someone like Herrera couldn’t be given a spot on what is looking like to be a very weak hitting Dodger bench. I think we should be at least open to the idea.
So why has it seemed like Herrera has been forsaken? Somehow he has slipped down the depth chart. It’s a shame because from what I saw from Herrera last season, he would be a great addition to any team’s bench. If the Dodgers don’t take the opportunity, and put him on the bench, they will regret it come summer when guys like Juan Uribe, and Nick Punto are hitting below the Mendoza line.
Herrera is a 28 year old Dominican switch-hitting infielder/outfielder. The Dodgers signed him as an amateur free agent back in 2003. If you can believe it the poor guy has been languishing in the minors for nearly a decade. Before he was called up to the big club, Herrera was playing in the hitter friendly Albuquerque, and hit .341 with three home runs, 41 RBI, in 64 games, and 297 plate appearances. Herrera is a career .285 hitter in the minor leagues. He stole 11 bases last season as an Isotope, and stole 33 bases the year before for Chattanooga. All total he has stolen 133 career minor league bases. Elian can also draw walks with the best of them, but struggled with his eye as the summer ended. He walked 23 times, but had 50 whiffs.
Herrera was called up to the Dodgers on May 15 of last season. The Dodgers had to dig deep into their farm system to find him, because of all of the injuries last year. What they got was much more than they expected from the upstart switch-hitter.
Herrera was inserted at nearly every position, and at every position he played almost flawlessly. He also is a pretty decent hitter as well. Herrera played in 67 games, and posted a slash line of .251/.340/.332 with one home run, 17 RBI, in 214 plate appearances. Not bad at all, I mean for a sub, you could do worse. And if the Dodgers continue to employ Juan Uribe, then well, there you go. Anyways, if you remember, last June, Herrera single-handedly won several games for the Dodgers.
After hitting in 11 of 15 games in May, and 10 of his first 16 games in June, Herrera started to struggle. Herrera struggled in a way that is very common for inexperienced young players at the big league level. The league figured him out. Herrera is a very disciplined hitter, but he wasn’t able to adjust to the league figuring him out. No longer could he just walk up to the plate and take pitches and draw walks. Now he had to make an adjustment on the fly, and he couldn’t do it.
Opposing pitchers figured out his ability to draw walks, and began to challenge him. During his last twelve games in June, Herrera only hit in four of them. Elian only played in eight games in July, and hit in only three of them. Herrera was optioned back down to Albuquerque, where he stayed until he was given a September call-up. Herrera still was unable to adjust, and only had five hits in September. Herrera is a hard worker though, and I am sure he will be working on his hitting this spring. Maybe new hitting coach Mark McGwire can help?
Herrera pretty much plays all positions. He can play all three outfield positions, second base, shortstop, and third base. The only spots he didn’t play last year was first base, and catcher. Herrera played 22 games in left field, nine games in center, and seven games in right field. He played 20 games at third base, 13 games at second base, and two games at shortstop. Herrera finished the 2012 season with a total zone fielding runs above average at zero in the outfield. He was slightly below average at third base. Overall he only committed three errors all season in 127 total chances.
Herrera is a versatile, switch-hitting utility player, and I am very sure that he could handle playing first base in an emergency. There is value here. Herrera has much more value than Juan Uribe’s ability to hit below his weight. There is no reason why the Dodgers shouldn’t give Herrera a spot on the bench. He’s a switch-hitter, he plays all over the diamond, and he is a hard worker. Plus he genuinely loves to play Baseball for the Dodgers. When I heard how much it makes him happy to see his name in the lineup card, and in the lights across the scoreboard, it warmed my heart.
It’s time for the Dodgers to do the right thing here. It’s time to give Elian Herrera a spot on the bench. Will we be seeing more Elian Encounters in 2013? We can only hope.