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The Dodgers have signed some
2003-01-23 14:48
by Jon Weisman

The Dodgers have signed some players to non-guaranteed contracts to create more possibilities for their very weak bench. (See and scroll down to my January 8 entry).

Terry Shumpert, 36, plays seven positions. Though his OPS in 2000 and 2001 was near .800 and in 1999 it was near 1.000 Š all as a reserve Š it fell last year to an unimpressive .676.

Quivio Veras, a 31-year-old infielder, has more of a pedigree as a starter. He has always had speed but hasnÕt always hit. In 2000 he had a fine OPS of .822 in 84 games with Atlanta, but that fell to .687 in 71 games in 2001. He missed 2002 because of knee surgery.

Shumpert and Veras, though not stars, offer some useful alternatives to Jolbert Cabrera. I canÕt say for certain that they would be better. Cabrera is younger and healthier (though he did suffer a gunshot wound to his buttocks a couple of years ago!) and also plays infield and outfield, like Shumpert. But Shumpert and Veras have probably had more productive moments.

In other bench news, Ken Gurnick of reports, as I sort of suspected, that the Dodgers would like to keep a third catcher in David Ross, since Todd Hundley squats behind the plate at everyoneÕs collective peril. Hundley would be more likely to fill the role of lead left-handed pinch hitter vacated by Dave Hansen.

IÕm also dropping Wilkin Ruan and Luke Allen back down to Las Vegas. In this week's analysis by USA Today Sports Weekly of the Dodger farm system (which I hope to address soon), I saw that Ruan really doesnÕt look like heÕs ready to hit in the majors. Hermansen may not be ready either, but heÕs a little further along. Allen looks the most ready, but he doesnÕt play center field. To use Allen would leave Dave Roberts without a true backup in center field (Shumpert is also more of a leftfielder). My suspicion is that the Dodgers see no better option than to let Roberts go for 150 games in center Š but theyÕd still want to have some sort of backup who can play the position.

So hereÕs a revised look at the makeup of the Dodger bench (certainly not the final revision):

Todd Hundley, C/1B, .722 OPS
Mike Kinkade, 1B/LF, 1.083 OPS
Cesar Izturis, SS, .556 OPS
David Ross, C, ,985 OPS (in 10 at-bats, including his home run off Mark Grace)
Chad Hermansen, OF, 651 OPS
Terry Shumpert, IF/OF, by a hair over Cabrera and Veras.

I hope to look at some recent signings to provide choices for the pitching staff next.

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