When the Dodgers decided to put Hanley Ramirez back at shortstop upon acquiring from the Marlins, it had the looks of a temporary move, what with Dee Gordon set up as a long-term option at the position. However, as things stand now, the Dodgers are leaning towards leaving Ramirez at shortstop in 2013 and going with Luis Cruz at third base.
“Did you watch Cruz play,” GM Ned Colletti said.
It’s true that Cruz was a revelation after moving into the starting lineup. The 28-year-old hit .297/.322/.431 with six homers and 40 RBI in 283 at-bats. Prior to 2012, he had a .221/.275/.260 line and no homers in 154 major league at-bats.
The Dodgers will have a crowd of infielders under contract. Besides the likely starters in Ramirez, Cruz and second baseman Mark Ellis, the team also has Jerry Hairston Jr., Nick Punto and Juan Uribe all entering the final year of multiyear deals. Odds are that someone from that group — most likely Uribe — won’t fit on the Opening Day roster.
And it surely means that Gordon, who was handed a starting job and the leadoff spot this spring, will open next year in Triple-A.
Still, there’s one very interesting aspect to all of this, that being that Cruz is almost surely a better defensive shortstop than Ramirez. It was his primary position throughout his minor league career, and he had a reputation as a good-glove, no-hit guy in his younger days.
Given that Gordon still projects as the Dodgers’ long-term shortstop, it’d make a lot of sense to put Cruz back at shortstop to begin next year and let Hanley settle back in at third base. The Dodgers, though, seem content to wait and cross that bridge later.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.