The Cubs introduce Rudy Jaramillo; consider Jermaine Dye

Leave a comment

As the Tribune’s Paul Sullivan notes, “The Cubs may be the only team in history to bring their new hitting coach to
town for an introductory news conference while letting their most
prominent free agent signee do his talking over the phone.”  But a news conference it was, and Rudy Jaramillo spoke about his guru status. Mostly by denying that he’s a guru, which is smart.  But still, is there a hitting coach in baseball who will be under more scrutiny than Jaramillo will be this season?

In addition, the Cubs confirmed that they are looking at Jermaine Dye, but if they brought him in he’d be a utility player of sorts, platooning with Fukudome and backing up Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee.

I didn’t like the idea of Dye in San Diego where he’d presumably expect to play every day (and, if some of you readers are correct, the Padres would want him to play every day in order to showcase him for a midseason trade).  An uber-corner backup job, however, may be more fitting.  Especially with the Cubs, from Dye’s perspective, considering he lives in Chicago anyway.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.