I’ve always liked Harold Reynolds. I enjoyed him on ESPN’s baseball games and shows. Even when I disagree with his comments on MLB TV, I don’t loathe his presence on the screen, like I do with Mitch Williams or Billy Ripken, even though the three come from the same anti-sabrmetric school of thought.
But last night, Reynolds said something so horribly inaccurate that went unchallenged. It’s one of those instances that puts MLB TV, typically head and shoulders over ESPN’s stable of John Kruk and crew, on the same level as the World Wide Leader.
Reynolds was arguing that the Dodgers, they of the $221 million team salary, last place in the NL West, six games back and a negative run differential of 39, could be in contention by the All-Star Break. This position reminded me of my junior year high school english teacher, Ms. Laval, who would shoot down ideas about what Nathaniel Hawthorne was trying to get at by saying, “possible, but not probable.” Same is true for the Dodgers being in contention come mid-July.
Adding insult to injury was Reynolds’ second claim that the Dodgers’ farm system is stacked and that would either help the team down the stretch or make it easier for them to pull off a trade. In fairness to both his argument and Dodger minor leaguers, LA does have some good players coming up the pipeline. Yasiel Puig is already in LA and the team has players like Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, and Zach Lee who could make an impact in a few years.
Did Reynolds mention any of those guys? Nope.
He referred to Justin Sellers and Dee Gordon. The former is 27 and the latter is 25. Sellers had 77 plate appearances this year while Gordon has gone to the plate 73 times before being demoted – for good reason. Both of their batting averages sit not-so-comfortably under .200. Sellers has played parts of two other seasons with the Dodgers and his batting average has just been a hair north of .200 those years. Gordon, after a high batting average/low on-base percentage 48-game audition in 2011, played half a season in LA before being sent down in 2012
Reynolds’ point was that the Sellers/Gordon duo is tearing it up in AAA. And on that point, Reynolds is right…..but, it means little in terms of their value or skill set. This is Gordon’s third time through AAA and Sellers’ fourth stint. If these guys weren’t tearing it up, they would be wasting valuable time and on-field experience for others on the bench or players toiling in Double-A.
From the jump, Gordon’s game was about speed. Rail thin and incredibly fast, his wheels were going to be key to his defense, his ability to get infield hits, and be one of those guys who can turn a walk into a triple thanks to his speed. Sellers doesn’t have Gordon’s MLB pedigree – Dee is the son of the inimitable Flash Gordon. He was once a prospect, now he is a project. He needs to prove he can hit major league pitching. Until 2011, Sellers was one of those guys every major league team has stashed in their farm system who plays well enough to warrant a roster spot on teams that play in cities like Savannah or Buffalo, but not good enough to make a major league roster. Except Sellers parlayed a few good years in Triple A with the fact that the McCourt-era Dodgers were broke and had a thin farm system.
Sellers and Gordon are not prospects. They are definitively not trade bait. If Reynolds believes so, he is less informed than the inane people posting comments on MLBTradeRumors who think the Yankees could get Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins in exchange for Kevin Youkilis, Jorge Posada’s old locker, and the rights to a really promising t-ball player in White Plains.
If only there was some set of statistical analysis that gave folks the ability to figure out how good players are and what their potential might be in the majors. If only.