Tony Gwynn Jr. played 239 games for the Dodgers from 2011-12. By one metric, he was the team’s best defensive outfielder during that time. Gwynn was a serviceable hitter until somewhere around June 2012; he batted .180 after June 1 of that year. Gwynn gave way to Shane Victorino, then Carl Crawford, and wound up spending all of 2013 in Triple-A.
Gwynn signed with Philadelphia last November (for a modest $900,000) and made the Phillies’ Opening Day roster. Gwynn doesn’t start against left-handed pitchers, so we might not see him in the series until Zack Greinke starts Wednesday. The platoon seems to be working; Gwynn is batting .292 this season.
The success might also stem from his jersey number. After going his own way since he broke into the majors in 2006, Gwynn is wearing his father’s number 19 for the first time in his career.
So about that “hypothetical present.”
The Dodgers were rumored to be interested in their opponent today, Cliff Lee, at the 2012 trade deadline. They traded for Joe Blanton instead and missed the playoffs. Last year Lee went 14-8 with a 2.87 ERA and made the National League All-Star team. Sounds like a missed opportunity.
Then again, given the Phillies’ reluctance to trade any of their high-priced, high-risk veterans (Lee, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley), it’s no surprise that Lee is still in Philadelphia. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has shown no intention of rebuilding his aging roster. Lee might be no less untouchable today than he was in the summer of 2012. His team, meanwhile, is 8-10 in the young season.
Lee, 35, is owed a total of $50 million between this year and next. The Dodgers opted to put that money toward signing Greinke instead and dealt their expendable prospects to Boston for Adrian Gonzalez, Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto.
To think: Maybe if Lee became a Dodger, the Punto Era might never have existed.
Hypotheticals are fun.
• Alex Guerrero yesterday at Triple-A Albuquerque: 3 for 5, double, RBI. Total: .440 average (11 for 25), .500 OBP, .800 SLG in seven games.
• If Guerrero keeps up that pace, Chone Figgins‘ job is in jeopardy. Throughout March, the Dodgers praised Figgins’ versatility in the field and patience at the plate. Yet through 19 games, Figgins has played just two-thirds of an inning in the field (both in left field) and made only nine plate appearances. By cutting Figgins, the Dodgers wouldn’t be losing much production.
• Next, SportsNet LA will use DirecTV subscriber A.J. Ellis in its ads:
— Tom Hoffarth (@tomhoffarth) April 21, 2014
• The secret to Zack Greinke’s slider? He stopped throwing a cutter.
• MLB commissioner Bud Selig is often criticized for publicly paying lip service to a problem in the game, while privately dragging his heels on solving the problem. (Oakland A’s ballpark, drug testing in the 1990s, introduction of video replay in the 2000s, et. al.) He won’t even pay lip service to the problem of human trafficking infiltrating the game, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.
• MLBfarm.com created this map of where every American-born major leaguer was born by county.
• Dodger batters are leading the major leagues into a new frontier of striking out a lot. (Pitchers are getting their share of whiffs, too.)
• The production value on “Season Song” by Blue States is through the roof. The electric guitar is cast as a rhythm instrument; the backup vocals sound as if they come from a church choir; a wah pedal makes a couple memorable cameos; strings soar; a drumbeat is lifted from the James Brown catalogue: