Dodgers: Early Grades for September Call-Ups
When money is being shelled out the way Mark Walter and Stan Kasten have been shelling it out (with the confidence and reckless abandon of Ferris Bueller) it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to look at the team as a whole, the sum of its parts.
I admire the work done by the law firm of A.J. and Mark Ellis, the glue applied behind the scenes by Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto and I sure do love to watch Kenley Jansen light up the night; nothing makes me as happy as Juan Uribe’s belly.
The Dodgers magical run, now 82 games long, of 55-17 has a heck of a lot to do with the guy making tens of millions of dollars, yet it also has just as much to do with the guy standing next to him in the dugout, sitting next to him in the clubhouse, shagging his fly balls.
For this run to mean anything, they will need to dig deep, collectively, and rely on each other to succeed in late October. Postseason success often has as much to do with the superstars as the September call ups.
Catcher, Drew Butera: Incomplete
Dodger catcher Drew Butera playing for the Italian National Team
Not wanting to feel left out of all the fun, the Dodgers sent Class-A pitcher Miguel Sulbaran to Minnesota in exchange for catcher Drew Butera in an inconsequential deadline day deal.
Butera could be viewed as somewhat of a journeyman, 30 and still toiling in the minors, he was traded for as a contingency more than a necessity, and the same could be said for his September call up.
A career .182/.230/.263 hitter, he is known primarily for his defense and his presence on the roster allows Tim Federowicz or A.J. Ellis to be used as pinch hitters on days they don’t get the start.
Ten days into his major league stint, Butera has not been called upon in a formal capacity, thus resulting in an incomplete.
Reliever, Peter Moylan: Incomplete
Dodger pitcher Peter Moylan
Don Mattingly and his coaching staff have shown an interest in stockpiling arms, so the addition of Peter Moylan to the September roster was anything but shocking.
Moylan was 1-0 with an ERA north of 6.00 in 10 appearances with the big league club this season, though he fared much better with the AAA Isotopes, posting a record of 4-1 while recording a 2.74 ERA in 28 games, with 45 strikeouts and 20 walks in 46 innings.
Moylan appeared briefly last week in Cincinnati, relieving an injured Chris Capuano in the second inning, getting Zack Cozart swinging.
Moylan has not been seen or heard from since, forcing me to give him a grade of incomplete.
Pitcher, Stephen Fife: C
Dodger pitcher Stephen Fife pitching in Dodger Stadium
The Dodgers entered spring training with too many starting arms. Josh Beckett went down, Carlos Quentin lost his temper, yadda yadda yadda and Stephen Fife showed up at Chavez Ravine.
All things considered, Fife did a fairly decent job in his nine starts. He went 4-3 with a 2.47 ERA despite having a 1.31 WHIP. His success was not sustained and he found himself on the disabled list several times with right shoulder bursitis.
Over his last few weeks with the Isotopes, Fife allowed 16 walks in 14 innings while posting a 10.29 ERA in just five appearances.
Similar to Butera and Moylan, Fife has not seen his number called too much. But when he was called upon, he disappointed. Appearing in the same Cincinnati game as Moylan, Fife pitched two innings allowing six Reds to reach base, of which two would eventually score.
Coupling his inconsistencies while pitching for the Isotopes with his poor outing in Cincinnati, I have no choice but to give him a C.
Shortstop, Dee Gordon: B
Dodger shortstop Dee Gordon squaring up a bunt
If I were grading Dee Gordon’s season as a whole to date, he would not come close to receiving such a generous letter grade.
Lucky for him I am only evaluating his September performance, and I am feeling lenient. Gordon can hardly be trusted defensively at shortstop and, unfortunately, brings little to nothing to the plate at the plate (pun intended).
Since being called up he has pinch hit, successfully bunting for a base hit, and pinch run, successfully stealing second base.
We are going to do some coupling again; this time however we will couple Hanley Ramirez’s incredible offensive season and Mattingly’s distrust in Gordon defensively and end up with Gordon sitting on the bench, a lot. Net result, a solid B.
Outfielder/First Baseman, Scott Van Slyke: A
Dodger outfielder/first baseman Scott Van Slyke getting applause from Manager Don Mattingly
In just 122 plate appearances and 107 at bats, Scott Van Slyke has homered seven times, tying him with A.J. Ellis for sixth most on the team.
Most of that is a result of the pop the Dodgers' bats simply do not have, but it is also a testament to the player Van Slyke is and can be. He is a big man with a big man’s swing which often results in diminishing returns, yet Van Slyke is hitting .259/.333/.519.
Van Slyke has also seen minimal playing time since being called up at the beginning of the month; he has two hits in five plate appearances. The most recent of the two hits coming late last night when he hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the 11th.
The theatrics, excitement and jubilation that came with Stash Van Smash’s big moment leave me no choice but to give him an A. Who said teachers can’t have favorites?
Reliever, Chris Withrow: A
Dodger pitcher Chris Withrow getting congratulations from catch A.J. Ellis
An ERA under 3.00, a WHIP under 1.00 and a 4.6:1 strikeout to walk ratio could be the stats for Kenley Jansen, Hyun-jin Ryu or any of the other established and proven Dodgers. In this case, the numbers belong to 24-year-old reliever Chris Withrow.
Withrow has had pretty dominant stuff all season long; he is sitting at 3-0 thanks in part to the fact that he strikes out 34.2 percent of the hitters he faces and gives up a home run every eight innings (essentially once every eight appearances).
While Scott Van Slyke was the true heroin in Tuesday’s 11-inning victory, Withrow’s performance will not go unmentioned, at least not from me. He pitched a perfect 1.1 innings, running his consecutive batters retired streak up to 15.
Withrow has meshed with the other bullpen arms perfectly, adding another weapon to the already dangerous arsenal at Mattingly’s disposal. He is very deserving of a solid A.