COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Dodgers and left-handed pitcher Jonathan Sanchez agreed to terms on a minor-league deal on May 15. If this were 2010, this could be perceived as good news. But it's 2013, and this is anything but good news.
Sanchez, despite being wild, was passable when he was with the San Francisco Giants. His 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings rate is in the elite category. Unfortunately, the rest of his numbers were not.
Since being traded to the Kansas City Royals prior to the 2012 season for Melky Cabrera, Sanchez has been a member of two additional teams (Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates) and has been miserable.
When the trade was first announced, my immediate reaction was the Royals won the deal. I didn't believe in Cabrera's fluke season and Sanchez, despite his control issues, at least had good arm talent. Turns out I wasn't completely wrong about Cabrera, as he's been a rather pedestrian hitter since he was popped for performance-enhancing drugs last year, but I was absolutely wrong about Sanchez.
Sanchez, 30, hasn't even been close to replacement level since 2012. In fact, he's a -1.3 WAR pitcher. The Dodgers could literally pick up a random free agent starter and that starter would have a better chance of producing than Sanchez. He's also 1-12 with an 8.73 ERA, 2.14 walks plus hits/innings pitched, a 7.0 walks per nine innings and a 0.98 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his last 19 starts (20 appearances). He's awful. Being a former Giant just makes it that much worse.
But don't fret Dodger fans. It's highly unlikely Sanchez sees any time with the Dodgers. Yes, the Dodgers have suffered a myriad of injuries to their rotation this season, but they're not that desperate.
Zack Greinke came back from the disabled list on May 15 and pitched relatively well -- especially for being more than three weeks ahead of schedule. Ted Lilly is rehabbing with the High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and, despite popular belief, is a better pitcher than Sanchez. Even the injured and incredibly ineffective Josh Beckett has a substantial chance of being a better pitcher than Sanchez.
If Sanchez ever dons a Dodger uniform, I'd be shocked. Instead, Sanchez was signed for Triple-A depth. The Albuquerque Isotopes' rotation is a mess, and has been pretty much all season.
The 'Topes ace was Matt Magill, but he was recalled early because the Dodgers needed someone capable of throwing at least five consecutive innings. Magill was also recalled because Stephen Fife suffered an injury. They were the only two legitimate starting pitchers the 'Topes had to start the season. Blake Johnson and Javy Guerra were relievers-turned-starters out of necessity.
The Dodgers signed former Cleveland Indians prospect Aaron Laffey to a similar minor-league deal a couple weeks ago. That's how bad the Triple-A rotation is.
Sanchez has no difficulty throwing a lot of pitches, averaging 93.9 per start in his career. However, he's lasted just 5.3 innings in those starts -- definitely not an efficient pitcher.
It isn't often a guy just "loses it," but that's apparently what's happened with Sanchez. He was once a quality pitching prospect with control issues. He even has a no-hitter under his belt. Now, he's struggling to stick with a Major League organization.
Unfortunately for the National League West, Sanchez won't be a factor for the Dodgers. But, Pacific Coast League hitters should be foaming at the mouth to hit off the lefty.
Message to current and future fathers: The best way to ensure your son's big league career is for him to be left-handed. Sanchez is living proof, because there's no way he's a MLB-caliber pitcher these days.
Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Jonathan Sanchez
- Melky Cabrera