This morning words were tossed around surrounding the Dodgers’ interest in Kevin Youkilis. Scouts were said to have seen “a difference” in the Dodgers approach as the club escalating the presence of scouts to observe the “Greek God of Walks”.
Many are arguing that Youkilis, 33, could come to Los Angeles and have a re-birth of sorts back to the batter that hit .307/.411/.564 two years ago.
I am not one of those people.
Youkilis hit .258/.373/.459 in 120 games played last season, and while he still was able to hit 17 homers, and drive in 80 runs, he struck out much more, numbers that have gotten worse this season.
Let’s take a look at his AB/K over the last three seasons to reveal a disturbing trait.
- 2010: 5.40
- 2011: 4.31
- 2012: 3.31
Each season he has seen his strikeout totals continue to falter. What about his walk rates? I’ll show you.
- 2010: 6.24
- 2011: 6.34
- 2012: 12.00
That trend too is slowly starting to creep up. Both numbers suggest a painful combination where the Dodgers are concerned.
The discussion here is one to replace James Loney at first base. The potential is not even there any more. This season he is batting .250/.318/.406 as compared to Loney’s line of .250/.324/.359.
What is Kevin’s contract looking like? He is due to make $12 million this season, a number that even pro-rated for the remainder of the year will not be paid by the Dodgers as the club has stated. Nor will they give up any top prospects.
I applaud that.
My studies went ever further today when I studied a sabermetric stat known as Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA). This stat is very important in determining the offensive value of a hitter. As Steve Slowinski of FanGraphs.com puts it: “Not all hits are equal. Batting average assumes they are, as does OBP.” wOBA combines every aspect of hitting into one metric.
With that said I looked up Youkilis’s wOBA stat I learned that it lies at .320, which is rated as average. Compared to Loney’s .280 it’s a viable upgrade. For those wondering, a .280 is rated as awful. Who else lies in that stat? Juan Uribe. His wOBA is .277.
But, for the money the Dodgers may have to invest, there are better options. Two days ago I mentioned Bryan LaHair as a target the Dodgers should pursue. His wOBA stands at the highest of the team’s projected targets with a .405. Anything above .400 is deemed to be excellent.
If LaHair’s price is set to be sky-high, or Cubs GM Theo Epstein decides to try and play the Dodgers, they can easily move on to Morneau, a slugger that can be a new destination away from a resurgence.
Morneau, 31, is two seasons removed from hitting .345/.437/.618, and three seasons from smacking 30 home runs. He will make $14 million a season with his impending free agency set to hit in 2013, guaranteeing him one season to attempt to prove to the Dodgers that he is capable of being the Dodgers’ first baseman of the future. This year he hits .244/.315/.535 with nine homers and 25 RBIs.
Then there is Lee, 35, who rarely strikes out, and is hitting .298/.350/.415. He is an intimidating force that is set to become a free agent at the close of the season. Lee is surrounded by rookies on a team that is going nowhere. He would be at home in Los Angeles behind a strong Central American community that cheered proudly for fellow Panamanian Olmedo Saenz a few years back.
I would gladly take any of the three candidates, but would shiver beyond belief at the sight of Youkilis in a Dodger uniform.
In fact, I can already hear the boos surrounding Kevin when our acquisition becomes the latest in the line of: Andruw Jones, Jonathan Broxton, and Juan Uribe. A strong accusation, but one that I have a feeling about.
It looks like trade talk is here early this season, and we are all over it. From the mouths of the Dodger organization to your ears is our goal. Check back with Dodgers Nation to stay up to speed.