Clock ticking on Mike MacDougal?

The Dodger bullpen is nearing another crunch. Todd Coffey is scheduled to pitch in minor-league rehab games Wednesday and Friday, in advance of becoming eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

Before Coffey went on the disabled list to make room for the activation of Ted Lilly, it appeared that Josh Lindblom would be sent to the minors, because he had options remaining. Since that time, the importance to the Dodger bullpen of Lindblom, who had a 2.73 ERA and 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings last year, has only been underscored. Even after allowing his first run of the season Monday, the 24-year-old Lindblom has a 0.84 ERA in 2012 with nine baserunners in 10 2/3 innings, generally pitching in critical situations. Meanwhile, Mike MacDougal has been just about useless in what has become a mop-up role, allowing 12 of 26 batters to reach base.

Even though the Dodgers have committed $1 million to MacDougal ($650,000 salary for 2012, plus a $350,000 buyout of the club’s nearly insane $2.35 million 2013 option), it’s seemed clear in recent days that Lindblom has established that he has become too important to the Dodgers to send to the minors.

There’s room for a little second-guessing, however.

MacDougal has suffered from a .412 batting average on balls in play (Lindblom is at .174). The 35-year-old’s top problem has been that he has walked five batters in 4 2/3 innings. MacDougal has always had control problems, but as overrated as he might have been in 2011, he’s probably better than he has shown in 2012. The sample sizes are so small that I’m not sure the Dodgers would be ready to give up on their MacDougal investment so early in the year.

On the other hand, they might as well be. MacDougal’s peak value is still replaceable. The Dodgers aren’t hurting for alternatives, including Shawn Tolleson, who continues to absolutely destroy opposing batters in the minors. After becoming the team’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2011, Tolleson has started 2012 by facing 22 batters and striking out 13, while allowing only three to reach base.

In addition, Ronald Belisario’s suspension will end next week (May 3) after the Dodgers play their 25th game, forcing Los Angeles to confront his future. And somewhere down the road, a recovery for Blake Hawksworth theoretically lurks.

There’s only one logical assumption, and that’s another conveniently timed injury will befall a Dodger reliever, perhaps one whose initials are the same as Mickey Mantle’s. Barring that, Los Angeles should be brave enough to confront a future without MacDougal, who conceivably could clear waivers anyway and spend some time in Triple-A, where he pitched as recently as 2010.

  • Anonymous

    Send not for whom the bell tolls, 
    it tolls for MacDougal

    (Rejected first draft by John Donne.)

  • http://suburbiauncovered.com/ Matt Powell

    A little bit of an off-topic idea here… but I’ll share anyway.  I attended the Astros game last Saturday and sat in the first row of the outfield.  Coffey was out there hanging out and shagging some balls right below me in the outfield.  My observation… Coffey was unusually nice to the fans (the local Houston Astro fans, that is).  He was talkative and giving with stray balls, etc.  I was very impressed with Coffey as a person… there were some fans around me who were being very disrespectful and he handled it superbly.  So, I’m now a vocal supporter of Coffey! :)

    • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

      I love the guy based on his sprint from the bullpen (given his girth, no easy feat), so it’s nice to hear more good things about him!

  • http://twitter.com/wdevil67 Scott Griffee

    I concur that MM would clear waivers.  Maybe the Red Sox would claim him, but it that happens, so be it.  But it I had to bet, somebody will be placed on the DL for a nagging injury.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Terry-Pruett/1707390003 Terry Pruett

    I just read the Times article where Ned states that he wants to sign Ethier long term. I would be very careful with that…he’s 30, and has about 2 years of prime left at most. I’m not saying I wouldn’t sign Andre…I’m just saying that I wouldn’t sign him long term for top money. They have to be prepared to walk away, otherwise.

    • Anonymous

      And how exactly you prepare to the walk away, signing the Juan Riveras in turn, creating another new hole in the outfield?  2 years of prime at most is a very radical and pesimistic point of view. Truly good hitters have to be signed long term because they don’t grow on trees.  Right now, we have arguably the best one-two duo in all baseball just in front of us.  You have to secure your foundation and add to it to make a real contender.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Terry-Pruett/1707390003 Terry Pruett

        I would rather let him walk unless the price is reasonable, and then go get Josh Hamilton. If Ethier would agree to 3 years, $36 Million, then ok. If not, marshall your resources for a real difference maker.

        • http://twitter.com/Cadtalfryn Kyle MacGregor

          Hamilton is hurt all the time and has the cloud of alcoholism hanging over his head.

        • http://www.twitter.com/ElJefedor Jeffrey Thomas III

          So the Dodgers should cut loose the guy they have to spend more money on a guy one year older? I think Ethier is capable of putting up numbers similar to Hamilton’s as their career number comparisons show. I say we sign the slugger we’ve got for 5 years instead of hoping Hamilton ends up becoming a free agent and coming to LA. Even better, new owners can make a great first impression this offseason by adding Hamilton to the two great OF’s we already have.

          • Anonymous

            Ethier is playing well now but he’s only had one really great year. He’s only hit 30 HR’s once, he’s had some injury issues and he’s already 30 years old. I like Ethier and he’s a pretty solid hitter but he’s more 20 HR’s than 30 and I’d only sign him to an extension if the years makes sense. Yes, we will be left with two holes in the OF but I’d rather try to fill these holes with smarter options than overpay on Ethier and suffer when he’s not producing much in the second half of his contract. BTW,  Hamilton is not a smart option. He’s Mr. Glass with a drug/alcohol problems

          • Anonymous

            I think the problem is finding the “smarter” options. Who do you have in mind that’s available after this year?

          • Anonymous

            Colletti has a knack of paying higher than market for a shorter term contract.

          • http://www.twitter.com/ElJefedor Jeffrey Thomas III

            I agree Ethier is more of a 20 HR guy, but when you compare their career numbers they aren’t that different. Ethier has about 250 games more (which again points to Hamilton’s injury issues and that Ethier debuted a year earlier) but here are the numbers:

            Hamilton:
            311/368/550 with 126 HR and 443 RBI

            Ethier:
            291/364/482 with 113 HR and 468 RBI

            Giving those 250 or so more games to Hamilton would no doubt raise the HR and RBI categories some but Ethier’s slashline is even then more impressive. I’m definitely not advocating overpaying for Ethier but think the Dodgers would be wise to lock him up for 4 or 5 years.

        • Anonymous

          Have to agree with Jeff on this one Terry. Why are you advocating going after a guy who is older than Ethier and who has had injury issues throughout his career? Either one is a risk for sure and it seems likely that Texas may end up retaining Hamilton, so with most of the bats going off the free agent market, the Dodgers may end up having to sign Ethier, especially with Sands not progressing in the minors and few alternatives to bolster the offense.
          You also have to account for the great hitting environment in Texas. Not saying Hamilton is not excellent when he’s playing, but surely there would be a drop-off coming to play for Dodgers and he probably wants a max contract like a Jayson Werth style, in which I’d rather do a 5/90 or something on Ethier. I’d personally rather see them give Ethier a 4 year deal, but I think market is going to demand they go at least 5. Unless he goes into some tailspin, there’s no way he’s taking 3/36….unrealistic.

          • Anonymous

            Honestly there isn’t much in the FA market to really love that’s why signing Ethier to a contract that isn’t too long is my first option. If he wants a big deal that’s longer than 5 years than I’d let him walk.

            If Ethier walks, I’d try to sign a FA to take his place and fill the other OF spot with a combination of Castellanos, Sands, and SVS. Maybe Blake Smith takes a jump into maybe getting some AB’s.

            Some OF FA’s that might look OK (not great but just OK):

            Torii Hunter: definitely on the downside of his career. low OBP but might have some decent pop left, plays a good RF and his a stellar clubhouse guy.1 yr deal???

            Shane Victorino: he is a FA right? I’ve always liked his game. A little pop, good speed, solid D, decent on base skills, solid arm. He won’t replace Ethier’s pop but he can help at or near the top of the lineup. He played RF a bit in Philly from what I remember. Maybe a 2 or 3 year deal?

            Or we can always go the trade route. Who knows who will be available next year.

            Bottom line: I like Ethier and his game but he hasn’t shown enough so far in his career to warrant a mega contract. I don’t know what he is expecting but he is more very good than great.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Terry-Pruett/1707390003 Terry Pruett

            You make good arguments. Two points:
            1. Hamilton is marginally older…but you’re right…older.
            2. Hamilton has a career 137 OPS+…Ethier is at 124. These are park adjusted, so the environment has been taken into account. That is a significant gap.

            My main fear is not in signing Ethier. It’s in signing him to 6-7 years at 15-17 Million. This will be a bad contract in 2 years in my opinion.

  • Anonymous

    As pointed out in Jon’s post, the Bellasario question is going to be quickly upon the Dodgers, too.  Does that put Wright or Guerrier at risk or is it assumed they DFA Bellasario in hopes he would clear waivers? 

    • http://twitter.com/Cadtalfryn Kyle MacGregor

      Wright has been more valuable than Coffey or MacDougal. I hope they’d DFA those guys first, but Bellasario didn’t look so hot in Spring and considering the drug use and Visa issues is he really someone you want spoiling good clubhouse chemistry?

      • Anonymous

        I agree on Bellasario.  If Coffey really was hurt, and I have no reason to believe there wasn’t something there, I want to see more before saying Wright is the better option.  Sad part is that Tolleson could be the best option and is basically buried this season.

        • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

          Also, Belisario didn’t look quite as sharp as he sometimes has, in ST, though his stuff always has filthy movement. I don’t think there’ll be a huge clamoring for him so Dodgers may just risk losing him briefly and then stash him in AAA as insurance if he clears, no? He’s a really frustrating guy because he has great stuff but at times he’s not that much different than MacDougal as far as having “great stuff” that he can’t always control very well, and on top of that has a history of being a head case at times. That said, I’d rather give him a try than a Troncoso again, say.

          • Anonymous

            You said what I was going for.  In short, if Coffey does indeed replace MM, then the existing staff is preferable to Bellasario at this point.

    • Anonymous

      A trade would be preferable than DL or lost on waivers.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ElJefedor Jeffrey Thomas III

    Well looks like Castellanos won’t be playing for anybody for a bit, Topes just put him on the DL with a hamstring strain.

  • Anonymous

    Agree MacDougal is on hot seat for sure.

    When Belisario is able to be activated do the Dodgers get to have him in minor league games first maybe to get a little longer look at what they got or do they have to decide to put him on roster once he’s eligible?

    • Anonymous

      Manny played in minor league games during the time he was suspended thus I have been surprised at not seeing Belisario playing already.

  • Anonymous

    RKPlayerTeamPosGABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOSBCSAVG▼OBPSLGOPS1Kemp, MLADCF72451010364800.417.500.8331.3332Loney, JLAD1B7223840123301.364.440.6821.1223Ethier, ALADRF7274920170600.333.333.519.852

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

     There’s no compelling reason to DFA Coffey. 
     

  • KT

    I would say his initials stand for Mickey Mouse instead of the great Mickey mantle…but then again Mickey Mouse was great in his own legend so he doesn’t even stand up to those initials

  • Anonymous

    I just don’t see Mattingly and Colletti letting McDougal go.  As far as the Ethier discussion, there were only about 20 players last year who hit 30 HRs, and none of them are available any time soon.  Of the ones who have signed recently, they got a lot more than 3 years 15-17 per year.  Getting a hitter who hits 20+ homeruns consistently and a high on base percentage is rare and that person will make a lot of money no matter who it is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dave-Pomerantz/3608376 Dave Pomerantz

    Guerrier to DL, Antonini up (probably only until Coffey is ready. MacDougal somehow sticks.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    NPUT