Welcome to Scrubbies Weekly! This is a new series in which we will document the adventures of our lovable little utility players every week, as they battle for an opening day roster spot, and or their escapades during the regular season. With Hanley Ramirez on the shelf for eight weeks, odds are, these gritty punch and Judy hitters will be once again invading the Dodger lineup the first two months of the 2013 season.
Generally there are five spots available on a major league bench during the regular season. One is saved for the backup catcher, in our situation that’s Tim Federowicz. That leaves six Scrubbies to battle for four remaining bench spots.
The Dodgers are really painted into a corner here. They could play Dee Gordon at shortstop and keep Cruz at third. I actually wouldn’t mind this idea. I would much rather give Gordon a shot, and see what he could do, then have to cringe through another eight weeks of Juan Uribe or Nick punto destroying scoring rallies with their ohfers. I feel like even though Gordon was atrocious last season offensively and defensively, there’s no point not to at least give him a chance and see what he can do for at least the first couple of weeks.
But that’s not what the Dodgers and Don Mattingly are going to do. They are already prepared to send Gordon to the minors to open the season. We all know how much Mattingly loves light hitting bench guys.
If the collected mistakes and sins of the 2012 season have taught us anything, it’s that the Dodgers main problem in 2012 was a lack of run production. Which came as a direct result of injuries. Still the Dodgers just didn’t score enough runs to win ballgames last season. Playing Scrubbies in the lineup that can’t hit is only going to further weaken the Dodger lineup, and prevent the team from scoring runs. The Dodgers just can’t and won’t win with any Scrubbies or automatic outs in the lineup. Even just one can ruin their run differentials for weeks. Playing the scrubs is a bad idea, that is not likely to work out well for the Dodgers. But we all know Don Mattingly is going to do it anyways. The Dodgers are notorious for making decisions that might benefit the long term, but hamper the short term in the process.
In this episode of Scrubbies Weekly, I will be rating the Scrubbies that are battling for a bench spot on the Dodger roster. I’ll discuss each player’s strengths and weaknesses, while giving them a letter grade based on six categories. Those are Batting and on-base skills, Power, splits, speed, fielding, and finally overall performance. At the end I will give my recommendation for who the four Scrubbies should be. Two Scrubbies will be awarded the Left-Eye award. This is the award given to the Scrubbie that is just too much Scrubbie for us to make the roster. A Left-Eye Scrubbie must be cut from the roster.
Scrubbie number 1- Juan Uribe
I might as well get this one over with first. The Dodgers signed Uribe to a three year 21 million dollar contract in the winter of 2010, and he has been a monumental disaster of epic proportions. Uribe is often considered one of the worst Dodgers of all time, even considered for our top ten Bum list. The Dodgers always have the option to release Uribe, although I’ll bet you dollar to donuts that it will never happen. Ironically enough, Uribe gobbles up donuts at a record pace. If they did decide to release him, they would be on the hook for the remaining eight million dollars left on his contract.
Uribe wasn’t always this bad actually. He’s had his worst years with the Dodgers. But years ago he was decent, and regularly hit 15+ home runs each season. At one point during his middle years, he posted four consecutive seasons of 20+ home runs.
Uribe is a right handed batter that is strong defensively, and can play all four infield positions with ease. He is 33 years old, and has 12 years of major league experience.
Batting and On-Base skills- Grade- F
Uribe’s batting and On-Base skills are horrendous and not likely to improve anytime soon. Uribe is a career .251 hitter, but batted .191 (31 for 162) last year with the Dodgers in 179 plate appearances. He did hit .289 back in 2009 when he was with the Giants, but his plate discipline is non-existent. He walked only 25 times that season, while whiffing 82 times respectively. Last season he only drew 13 walks. Which explains why his career OBP is only a paltry .296. He doesn’t get enough hits to make up for the fact that he never walks ever. Uribe has a career OPS of .715, and the last time his OPS was above .800 was 2009 when he posted an .824. Somehow Uribe has had a good spring. He’s batting .378 (14 for 37) with one home run, and OBP of .395. Don’t let that fool you, it’s only spring training.
Power- Grade C+
Uribe actually does have some pop. But it won’t make much difference since he can’t hit above the Mendoza line. Still, every once in a while he can smack the ball out of the park. Uribe has four seasons of 20+ home runs, and four consecutive seasons of 15 or more. He has 157 career long balls.
Splits- Grade C
Uribe’s splits are irrelevant as he is just as atrocious against lefties as he is righties. His average against right handers is .252 compared to .248 versus left handers. He has a .296 OBP against both, and he is more power heavy against right handers.
Speed- Grade- F
What speed? Uribe has no speed, unless he is running to the bathroom after eating too many Empanadas. Uribe has 41 career stolen bases, and has been caught 38 times. His career high was 9 back in 2004 while with the White Sox.
Fielding – Grade-A
It often infuriates and fascinates me how a player like Uribe can be so awful on one side of the game, while seemingly wizardly on the other side. It’s the James Loney disease. Uribe is a very good defensive player. He can play all over the infield, and has posted a career +23 runs above average rating at shortstop, and a +7 rating at third base.
Overall performance – Grade – D
Uribe’s defense is the only thing that brings him above an F grade, and he will very well likely win the Left-Eye award. Uribe’s strengths are his solid defense, strong throwing arm, above average power, and his ability to consume mass quantities of empanadas. His weaknesses are his pathetic batting and on-base skills. Those are not likely to get any better. He’s way past his prime, and hasn’t even sniffed a Two win WAR season since 2009. Uribe should not be allowed to waste another roster spot again. I hear those taco trucks on the street corners are always looking for cooks.
Scrubbie -2 Jerry Hairston Jr.
I have always likes Jhair. I wouldn’t sing on twitter every time he gets a hit if I didn’t. He’s a solid veteran with experience playing all over the diamond. For a very short time period he can be a solid contributor while someone is out. The problem here is that after a while of playing every day, Jhair gets burnt out or something, and his production falls off the map. We’ve seen this before. It explains why Jhair batted .300 in April, .457 in May, and then .225 in June, and only .258 in July. Could Jhair handle the pressure of playing every day again? Jerry is 36 years old, bats right handed, and has 15 years of MLB experience. Jerry is batting .214 (6 for 28) this spring in 34 plate appearances.
Batting and On-Base skills Grade – C +
Jhair’s batting and On-Base skills are pretty decent, which is why he gets a high C grade here. But his on base skills, and plate discipline need work. Jhair is a career .259 hitter, with a .327 OBP. Last season he hit .273 (65 for 238) with the Dodgers in 267 plate appearances. He got on base at a .342 clip in 2012. He doesn’t walk nearly enough for his OBP to crack a decent line. He only drew 23 walks for the Dodgers in 2012, and has never had more than 44 walks in any season. He did only whiff 27 times last year, so he does generally make contact.
Power- Grade C –
I’ll give Jhair a low C grade here. Jhair has occasional pop. He hit four home runs last year, and has only had two seasons of ten or more. He has hit 68 career home runs. Home runs don’t come often for Jerry, but he’ll bit a few every year.
Splits grade B -
Jerry’s splits are nice. He has a .258 average versus right handers, and a .261 against lefties. Jerry has always hit lefties well over the course of his career. Last season he batted .296 against left handers. He has a .327 OBP against both, and a slightly higher OPS against lefties.
Speed Grade D
Jerry doesn’t have any speed. However few people may know that jerry once was a base threat, many many years ago. Jerry did steal 29 bases back in 2001 for Baltimore, and 21 bases the following season. Not many since then. He does have 147 career steals.
Fielding Grade Grade C +
Jerry’s defense is good enough to be above average, and he can play all over the diamond, but he is best used as an outfielder, or at second base. Jerry has had more games in the outfield, and second base, but he does have a lot of games at short and third base. He has a +20 runs above average rating in the outfield, and a +8 at second base. His numbers dip considerably at shortstop and third, with a -8 at shortstop and -1 at third base. He has had problems throwing from third base because of a history of shoulder problems since he banged it up during the 2011 NLCS. He has mostly played outfield this spring.
Overall Performance Grade – B –
I like Jhair a lot. I think he’s pretty much a lock to make the Dodger roster, and should see some time at third base during Hanley’s absence. Jhair can be a very effective player if used properly. I think it’s best to use him in the outfield, and in very short bursts. Not more than two or three times per week to avoid wear and tear.
Scrubbie number 3 -Skip Schumaker
The Dodgers acquired Skip Schumaker this winter via trade from the Cardinals. Schumaker is a 33 year old left hander, with eight years of MLB experience, all with the Cardinals. Skip has never played third base in the majors and only briefly in the minors. He has seen most of his time as an outfielder and second baseman. Schumaker is batting .256 (11 for 43) this spring, with a .298 OBP in 48 plate appearances.
Batting and On-Base skills Grade – B+
Schumaker is a good hitter, and has put up solid numbers in St. Louis. He is a career .288 hitter, with a .345 OBP. Last season he batted .276, with a .339 OBP, in 304 plate appearances. He doesn’t walk much, but he does well at making contact. He had back-to-back seasons of .300 in 2008-2009. He should hit around the same with the Dodgers.
Power Grade – F
Schumaker doesn’t have any power. He’s just not that type of a player. Table setters and bench guys normally don’t have much pop. Schumaker’s career high is eight home runs in 2008, and has 23 in his career.
Splits – Grade –C
Schumaker has some weird looking splits. He does great against right handers, but struggles against lefties. Go figure. He bats .305 versus right handers, and .205 against lefties. Why such an extreme split? I have no idea. Just don’t start him against southpaws.
Fielding Grade – C
Schumaker is somewhat like Hairston in that he is much better in the outfield. Schumaker can play second base, just not very well. He has posted a -21 runs below average rating at second base, while posting a +5 in the outfield. He is what he is. He gets an average grade here.
Overall performance grade – B
Because he has good batting and on-base skills, I give him a B, but it’s a precarious B. Schumaker much like the rest of these guys has never had a two win season. But if you keep him in the outfield, he should do fine.
Scrubbie number 4- Nick Punto
Punto came over to the Dodgers in last year’s blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox. Punto is a 35 year old switch-hitter, who can play all over the diamond. We haven’t seen Punto much. He only was able to get 35 at-bats last season before the season ended. Punto’s nickname is shredder, known for his habit of ripping his teammate’s jerseys off when they collect a walk-off hit. Punto is also very well known for sliding into first base. Punto is batting .292 (7 for 24) this spring, in 29 plate appearances. Will Punto slide into the first base of hearts in 2013?
Batting and On-Base skills Grade – D +
Punto’s batting and on-base skills definitely need improvement. Punto is a career .247 hitter with a .325 OBP. While his plate discipline could use some improvement as well, he has shown glimpses of improving. In 2009, Punto batted .278, and during his days in Minnesota, Punto drew 61 walks in 2009, and worked 55 in 2007. Overall he just isn’t a very good hitter. It’s best to bat him low in the lineup.
Power Grade – F
Punto rarely if ever hits a home run. When he does, I am sure they stop the game and give him the ball, that’s how often he does it. He does have a few though. He did hit one last year with Boston. Punto has 15 career home runs.
Splits Grade – C
Punto’s splits aren’t terrible. He bats .258 against lefties, and .242 against right handers. His OBP is around his career average of .325. He is just mediocre enough of a hitter to receive a C grade.
Fielding Grade – Grade B
Punto’s strongest positions are second and third base. For which he has posted good runs above average ratings, and made very few mistakes. Other positions he is about average. He has a +8 at second base, and a +37 rating at third base. He has been seeing a lot of time at shortstop this spring, but figures to see plenty of time at third base until Hanley returns.
Overall Performance Grade – D +
Other than his ability to entertain us with his funny head first slides into first base, he doesn’t do much else. Punto is the prototypical Scrubbie. He has poor batting and On-Base skills, no power of any kind, and average-ish defense. He is versatile defensively as most Scrubbies are. Keep him low in the lineup and you should be fine.
Scrubbie number-5 Elian Herrera
Here is another player that is very undervalued, but continues to be unable to shake the stigma of being a “career minor leaguer” Often people comment about Herrera’s lengthy minor league career, guessing his success in 2012 was a fluke, and that he hasn’t just all of a sudden figured it out. There are many players like Herrera that have just never had a chance to prove themselves, languishing down in the minors for years. Herrera can be a very valuable player, and I hope the Dodgers put him on the roster. Herrera is a switch-hitter, from the Dominican and is 28 years old. He is hitting .342 this spring in 40 plate appearances.
Batting and On-Base skills. Grade C
Herrera suffered through what many young players do in their first big league stints. Herrera has good batting skills, but the league figured him out last summer. Herrera was unable to just sit back and take walks anymore. The pitchers were forcing him to swing, and Herrera was unable to make an adjustment in time before the Dodgers sent him back to the minors. For a little while though, Herrera was doing quite well. Overall he ended up hitting .251 (47 for 187) with a .340 OBP in214 plate appearances. He drew 23 walks, but most of them came in the early part of the season. He whiffed 50 times, and he will need to work on his plate discipline, but he is at least league average.
Power –Grade D
Herrera doesn’t have much power and never really has. He hit one home run last year with the Dodgers. He hit 19 home runs over the course of his seven minor league seasons.
Splits – Grade- Incomplete
Herrera doesn’t have enough at-bats to qualify for a thorough grade. He did hit slightly better against lefties than right handers. Not nearly enough AB’s to make any kind of judgement.
Speed Grade B
Herrera runs fairly well, and can swipe a bag or two every now and then.
Fielding Grade A
This is where Herrera’s strength shines. Herrera literally can play anywhere. And nearly did last season for the Dodgers. He played all three outfield positions, and three of four infield positions. Herrera only made three errors last season with the Dodgers with only one in the outfield. I would grade Herrera’s defense as very solid. He is very solid at third base. He has a good arm, and can cover a lot of ground. His range factors are highest at second base and in right field. You really can play Herrera anywhere and you will get solid defense.
Overall Performance Grade – B
Herrera’s solid batting, good eye at the plate, and A+ defense make him the best candidate for one of the four bench spots. He is a true rover, and I love his passion for the game. How can anyone judge Herrera when he has never been given a chance to prove himself. I hope that there are many Elian Encounters in 2013 for the Dodgers.
Scrubbie number 6 –Justin Sellers
Our last Scrubbie is the cooler than the other side of the pillow Justin Sellers. Cell Block as he is called is one of the slickest fielders we have seen in a long time. However in grand Scrubbie tradition he can’t hit.
Sellers is 27 years old and bats right handed. He made his MLB debut for the Dodgers in 2011. He impressed us all with his superior defense. He only played in 19 games in 2012 because of a back injury. He popped a disc in his back while making a spectacular diving catch in foul ground, while diving into the stands. It was one of the plays of the year and appeared in almost every highlight reel. Afterwards, Sellers had to have surgery on his back and was not see again the rest of the season. Sellers has had a quiet spring except for the motorcycle incident. Sellers is batting .150 this spring in 20 plate appearances.
Batting and On-Base skills Grade – D
Sellers needs to improve his batting and on-base skills big time. Hitting .204 against Major League pitching isn’t going to cut it. Sellers batted .205 in 2011, and .203 in 2012. His on-base skills are just as bad. He has a .283 OBP, and only walked 12 times in 2011 and five times in 2012. Somehow he has to learn how to hit major league pitching if he is going to stick with the big club.
Power- Grade –F
Sellers has no power whatsoever. However he did hit one home run in 2011 and 2012. He did hit 45 home runs in the minor leagues. His career high in the minors was 14 dingers in 2010 and 2011 seasons with Albuquerque.
Splits Grade – D
Sellers really needs to improve his hitting skills in general, but against lefties he fares better than right handers. He is hitting .245 against lefties, and .184 against right handers. We’re talking about 114 AB’s against right handers and 53 against lefties. Which is enough to give a grade too.
Speed Grade – Non-existent
Sellers speed does not exist, as he has none. He has stolen one in the majors. Although he did record 70 steals in the minors. I wouldn’t expect him to be swiping bases anytime soon. He is no Dee Gordon.
Fielding Grade A
Sellers is a solid defensive player. Sellers has played short, second and third base all very well. Sellers has only committed two big league errors and has a fielding percentage of .982 at shortstop, and a near perfect record at second and third bases. This includes a +3 rating at second and third.
Overall Performance Grade C –
Like Uribe, only Sellers superior defense brings him to anything close to an average grade. Sellers just doesn’t hit well enough to justify playing him. Although he could be a great late inning replacement because of his defense. If he ever learned to hit, he could be a great top of the order guy. If sellers stays out of trouble, and off his motorcycle he could sneak onto the Dodger roster for his solid glove. That’s a big if because there are a few guys ahead of him on the depth chart that are better hitters.
Who gets the Left-Eye award? I’ll give it to Uribe and Sellers. My guess is that Punto and Uribe make the roster anyways, and Herrera, and Sellers start in the minors. The other two spots will go to Jhair and Schumaker. Which of the Scrubbies do you think will make the roster? Who are your favorite Scrubbies?
We may not want no Scrubs, but we do want our Scrubbies! What will these guys do next? Join us again next week as we chronicle the adventures and highlights of the lovable Dodger Blue Scrubbies.