By Jon Weisman
Josh Reddick was a late scratch from today’s early game at Cincinnati, and the reason instantly came across like a taunt to his detractors — a jammed right middle finger.
Reddick is available off the bench, according to Dave Roberts, though it could be until at least Wednesday when he starts next, considering that lefty ace Madison Bumgarner is starting Tuesday for the Giants at Dodger Stadium.
But in the meantime, it’s another setback in what has been anything but a storybook chapter in Los Angeles for Reddick. Three weeks into his Dodger career, Reddick has one extra-base hit and a .211 on-base percentage. Combined with the absence of fellow former Oaklander Rich Hill from the starting rotation, judgment has rained down on the trade that sent Grant Holmes, Jharel Cotton and Frankie Montas to the A’s for the pair.
It’s reasonable to expect more immediate impact from a trade specifically designed to boost the Dodgers’ pennant chances, particularly when the two players are free agents at the end of the year, than the Dodgers have gotten. But consider these counterpoints:
- The trade isn’t over after three weeks. No, really: It’s not. This isn’t me being Pollyanna. There are still six weeks of baseball left in the regular season, plus whatever’s to come in October. There is more than enough time for both Reddick and Hill to become big contributors.
- If you gave up on a player after three unproductive weeks, there is maybe one starter on the first-place Dodgers that would have survived the cut, and even Corey Seager had a sub-.600 OPS on April 21. Every other Dodger position player has had a prolonged slump.
- Reddick has been an above-average hitter since 2011 and had an .816 OPS this season when he arrived in Los Angeles. Why that wouldn’t count when evaluating his potential for the remainder of the season, I can’t imagine.
- The fact that Reddick has made solid contact during his three weeks as a Dodger is of limited comfort when the demand for results is immediate, especially when nothing’s gone out of the park, but it’s nevertheless another sign that, like Howie Kendrick, Yasmani Grandal et al, the results are likely to come.
- With Hill, there’s no Dodger track record to discuss, but just give the pitcher with a 2.25 ERA a chance to get some starts in, and there’s every possibility his value will soon speak for itself.
Without a doubt, some of the distress and anger over Reddick is tied into the demotion of Yasiel Puig, who is hitting .419/.479/.721 with Oklahoma City. How relevant that is, I can’t say, given that there’s no doubt that Reddick could rake in the Pacific Coast League, and I don’t think anyone should be surprised that Puig can dominate Triple-A pitching.
At any rate, whether you like it or not, there’s been sufficient documentation that Puig’s trip to the minors was about more than statistics, and I say that as someone who has always been in Puig’s corner.
Josh Reddick is more than a .152 hitter. Rich Hill is more than another statistic on the disabled list. Don’t be close-minded. While it’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day successes and struggles of individual players, especially when the National League West lead is changing hands almost on a daily basis, we are not down to the wire. There is a quarter of the season left, and a long game still to be played.
The reason the Dodgers acquired Reddick and Hill is because they believe in them, and unless much more evidence comes in against them, they’re right to do so.