COMMENTARY | There are some things in baseball that are just generally accepted. Bunting is good, Jack Morris is worthy of the Hall of Fame and Brandon Phillips is an elite second baseman.
Funny thing is, none of those things are correct. So, I can't figure out for the life of me why some Dodger fans want the team to trade for the Cincinnati Reds' second baseman. I've seen it on Twitter and heard it on the radio. I just don't get it.
The Los Angeles Dodgers signed 27-year-old Cuban second baseman Alexander Guerrero shortly after their season ended with the intention of him being their opening day starter at the position. Guerrero, a shortstop in Cuba, struggled to stay healthy during the Dominican Winter League season, which didn't give the Dodgers an ample look at this abilities.
So, it's only logical that fans are looking for more of a sure thing at second base. I've suggested a number of options -- none of which are appealing. The most realistic choice to start at second base come opening day is Dee Gordon, but it's far from the most appealing. But he'd make a ton more sense than a guy like Phillips.
Phillips, 32, is a pretty good defensive second baseman. That part of his game isn't overrated. He's posted a positive UZR/150 in every season he's been a full-time player, including a mark of 8.1 or better in the last four seasons. He's tied for sixth-best in defensive runs saved over the last four years at 28. In contrast, former Dodger Mark Ellis, whom they probably should have retained, is second-best with 47 DRS.
Sixes are prominent here, but Phillips does have the sixth-best WAR of any second baseman in the last four seasons, but that takes into account a career-best 5.6 in 2011. His WAR is trending downward as he posted a 3.7 mark in 2012 and 2.6 in 2013. Projections have him as a 2-plus win player in 2014, which is fine. But that number isn't worth the $11 million he'll make in 2014, nor is it worth the $50 million he's due in the next four seasons.
Phillips isn't the poster child for sabermetrics, as his walk rate is a paltry 5.8 percent for his career. His career .271 batting average is solid, but his .320 on-base percentage leaves a lot to be desired. Luckily, for him, he makes up for it with a career .429 slugging percentage. But a career .749 OPS isn't great for a perceived offensive threat, even at second base.
Plus, if the Dodgers were (foolishly) to acquire Phillips, they'd essentially block Guerrero for the four years to which he's signed. Guerrero wouldn't bump Hanley Ramirez off shortstop for at least two years, as Juan Uribe is signed through 2015. Plus, the Dodgers are looking to extend Ramirez as he's entering his walk year.
The best course of action for the Dodgers is to fill second base internally while they wait for Guerrero to be ready. It's entirely possible Guerrero has a strong spring training and proves he's ready for opening day, but I'm not counting on that.
Dodger fans should get familiar with Gordon as the starting second baseman. Barring a Yasiel Puig-like spring training from Guerrero, that's probably going to be the case for a month or two.
Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Los Angeles Dodgers' blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast and writes about the St. Louis Rams on the Yahoo Contributor Network. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Brandon Phillips
- Alexander Guerrero