The DFAs Come Rolling In

Tom DubberkeCorrespondent IApril 18, 2010

Two veteran players were designated for assignment today, 1Bman Mike Jacobs and RHP Russ Ortiz.

The Mets designated Jacobs today in order to bring up prospect Ike Davis (18th pick in the 2008 Draft).  Jacobs hadn’t gotten off to a good start, but he wasn’t horrendous either (.671 OPS). However, at the moment when a team thinks its 23 year old first round pick is ready, the team should dump the Mike Jacobs’ of the baseball world.  Davis had a 1.192 OPS after nine games at AAA, and the Mets obviously think he’s ready.

This probably and thankfully means the end of Mike Jacobs as an everyday player.  However, someone should claim him when he passes through waivers.  Jacobs has a career .828 OPS against right-handed pitchers (but only .642 against lefties), which makes him good enough to be a pinch hitter and back-up.

The Rangers are in a similar position with Chris Davis and Justin Smoak.  Smoak was the 11th pick of the 2008 Draft, a draft heavy in slugging 1Bmen.  Smoak has a 1.147 OPS through ten AAA games, while Davis’ 2010 major league OPS is .632.

It sounds like the Ike Davis and Mike Jacobs situation, but it’s different enough not to dump Chris Davis as quickly.  Davis is only 24 years old, a single year older than Smoak, and still might develop into a useful major league player for the Rangers.  The Rangers have to give him at least another five or ten games to see if he can turn it around.

It would also be a mistake for the Rangers to bring up Smoak now if only a few more weeks delay would mean they’d get him for an extra season without arbitration and also before he becomes a free agent.  The Rangers are correctly in rebuilding mode and should plan around holding onto Smoak for another year.  The Mets, on the other hand, are almost always a win-now team.

Finally, the Dodgers designated Russ Ortiz for assignment today.  He had not pitched well in Dodger Blue, posting a 10.29 ERA in six appearances and seven innings pitched.

This almost certainly means the end of Russ Ortiz’s major league career, unless he’s willing to pitch in the minors again.  However, Russ pitched 31 minor league innings in six appearances, five of them starts, at the AAA level last year, so he might in fact be willing to do it yet again.  We’ll have to wait and see.

Part of me would love to see the Giants sign Ortiz to a AAA contract, if he’s willing to pitch in Fresno, because in his day, Russ was a good Giants.  If he pitched well enough and is willing to hold out until September call-ups, the Giants can call him up and retire him a Giant, rather than a Dodgers.  However, the other part of me thinks that Ortiz at age 36 is done as a major league pitcher and isn’t worth the time unless the Giants really don’t have anyone better to pitch at Fresno.