Moving Adrian Gonzalez To The Bench is The Right Call

When Adrian Gonzalez originally was placed on the disabled list due to back problems back in June, he told the Dodgers management that he was unable to play. He recommended they call up all-star rookie slugger Cody Bellinger and the rest is history. While Gonzo mended behind the scenes, Bellinger not only turned into the top home run hitter on the club, but one of the most dangerous hitters in the National League. It was a beautiful act of selflessness and cemented his reputation as being a wonderful teammate and savvy veteran.

Since Gonzalez’s return from the disabled list he’s been utterly punch-less. This is not surprising since he’s been reportedly playing with a herniated disc in his back. In the 38 at-bats since returning from the disabled list he’s batted just .184 and has a slugging percentage of .316. Overall Gonzo is slashing .241/.288/.335 with just a .623 OPS and only two home runs in 223 plate appearances. Gonzo is simply not the same hitter he’s been throughout his career.

After Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Brewers Gonzo once again felt tightness in his back. Manager Dave Roberts stated that Gonzalez would be moved back to the bench once Bellinger is activated from the disabled list on Wednesday.

The Dodgers had hoped to be able to put Bellinger in left and put Gonzo back at his first base position. In the process letting him get his timing back and see if he had anything left for the playoffs. Unfortunately it seems that this season is a lost year for Gonzo and he has little to nothing left in the tank.

The Dodgers have been very quiet offensively of late. They’ve scored just two runs in their last two games and lost their first series since June on Sunday afternoon. The Dodgers certainly need Bellinger in the lineup. The boys in blue are 78-23 when Bellinger plays and 13-15 when he doesn’t. That’s not a coincidence.

Right now the Dodgers are 91-38 and have the best record in baseball. They have a 19-game lead in the National league West with just 33 games left to play. They can afford to experiment and shuffle the lineup around.

I think Dave Roberts and Dodger management are making the right decision to put Gonzalez on the bench. He may not even make the postseason roster. The Dodgers are going to have some tough decisions in the next few weeks and rosters are due to expand on September 1.

This is no disrespect to Gonzalez. He’s been one of the most productive hitters in baseball over the last decade. He’s been a great Dodger and is a great man. He’s hit 100 home runs as a Dodger and has recently collected his 2,000 career MLB hit. He’s had a long and successful career and his value as a teammate and his baseball knowledge are invaluable. He’ll be there to guide the youngsters through the postseason whether he’s on the bench, in the lineup, or not playing at all.

As I stated above, Gonzalez is a wonderful man and a terrific player. His contributions to charity off the field are well known. His work ethic is second to none. I can’t imagine the Dodgers without him and we won’t know until next season if this really is the beginning of his decline. Perhaps he’ll have a couple more productive seasons left in him?

But the Dodgers need to move forward. Management knows this and so does Gonzo. It’s sad, but father time catches up to everyone. It’s time to put the needs of the team ahead of the needs of the few or the one. Sorry Gonzo.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda’s Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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44 thoughts on “Moving Adrian Gonzalez To The Bench is The Right Call

  1. This is a nice article Scott. I do think it is a bit early to write AGon off, and although there are some letters on the wall just not enough for me to make out the words yet (and there is far more ink on the wall for Joc than AGon). Right now as I look at our roster, who do I trust in a close game in the postseason as a pinch hitter? Assuming we have 4 bench players and the outfield being Taylor, Puig and Granderson (that is a very good defensive outfield by the way), Barnes would take one spot, of course, by necessity as well as him being a much better pinch hitter at such an young age than I had thought possible. Then Utley – I think he is a good pinch hitter and he can play three infeld positions which allows you to push Bellinger to left field in the late innings in favor of a better match up.

    I am not sure about the other 2 when it comes to pinch hitting in a key spot. Does anyone trust Kike, Joc, Segedin, or anyone else on the 40 man roster in a key pinch hitting spot? Ok maybe, maybe Kike. But based on past evidence, I am not sold on him in a key pinch hitting spot. He’s very liable to take wild swings and kill a rally. I would go with AGon and Ethier – although Ethier has a distinct platoon split, it is not nearly as bad as Kike and I trust AGon to put the ball into the air for a sac fly in a key spot. Both of the vets can also hit against the shift.

    One guy I would love to see get time off is Grandal. There was a pointless fangraphs article on Grandal the other day (the one guy that cast the sole MVP vote for Grandal last year got to interview Grandal), which brought my attention back to this guy. He is not a durable player and looks to me like he is fading (again). Every year we go through this. I’d play Farmer and Barnes a lot more in September and let Grandal rest and get some pinch hitting down. Resting and pinch hitting may be just the thing to get him re-focused. And by the way both Farmer and Barnes are elite pitch framers, so we don’t lose anything by running them out there and in fact it would be a great thing to get our pitching staff familiar with Barnes since he is the one sure bench player for the post-season and a key one since he’s got to block pitches late in games. Especially our relievers whom we know often come into the game in the 5th inning so plenty of chances to work with Barnes if Barnes is starting more.

    1. Grandal should take some time off. He is a very streaky hitter. But me, I get both Farmer and Barnes some reps. The only problem with having both Ethier and Gonzo coming of the bench in the playoff is that there would be only 1 RH bat there. Barnes. That’s is it. I am totally surprised that Grandal’s average is above .250. He still has time to match last years HR total, but he has to hit 9 over the last 33 games. I know he is capable of that, but doing it is something else again. The one real bugaboo I have with the guy is that he is TERRIBLE in clutch situations. Oh yeah, a couple of times he has gotten a timely hit. But he has grounded into DP’s and struck out more times than I can count to KILL rally’s. Kike I have zero trust in to get a hit in a close game as a pinch hitter. 2 years ago, yes, last year and this year, not so much. Joc strikes out too much, and Segedin has not played enough this year to show any consistency. Their great RH hitting pinch hitter signing is on the 60 day DL and not likely to come back ever in a Dodger uni. ( Gutierrez). Eibner is out, SVS is gone, so there is little RH power in the system anywhere. Barnes is hitting over .300 and even better as a pinch hitter and he has some pop. I think with some more at bats under his belt, we would also see some power from Farmer. Interesting decisions looming for Roberts and all the staff. I would not want to be in their shoes.

      1. If it were up to me, Utley and Forsythe would be in a platoon and Forsythe would be the second RHPH when a righty starts, which would be most of the time.

        I’d also platoon Grandal and Barnes but I realize that’s probably pushing it … nah everyone knows I don’t fully appreciate Grandal in his glory. Love to be proven wrong though if he goes on a tear and wins all the postseason awards, which he is capable of and maybe he puts it all together. Imagine the shock when we all realize the blind squirrel was actually just a very small fruit bat !!(pun totally intended and I’m deliberately channeling Badger on that one!).

        1. I think he is more apt to turn into a fruit pie than a fruit bat. I like you am not down with the mans skills.

        2. Scott

          Now that is the way to take on this issue with Agone, and do it with respect, and class!

          Agone has been a great producer for this team, and he has also been a class act, for the Dodgers too, the entire time he has been on this team!

          Maybe that is why I reacted the way that I did, when some tried to blame Agone for Cody’s injury, and the offense taking a dive.

          The truth is it was worth a try to see what Agone could do, he is a much better bat, then a few hitters in this line up, even now.

          And I expect him to hit if he can ever be healthy, and I agree with YF, that Agone is the one guy on the bench, that I would trust to hit in an important run, if that was needed, especially against a top pitcher.

          After all, Agone was the only player, that was able to get a hit off Chapman, in our series against the Cubs last year.

          Not only did Agone hit in some important runs, in that game, he was in the dugout talking to Puig, and the other players, on how to approach Chapman, to try to get a hit.

          And I expect Agone to be there this year, to help the other players in the same way, or to pinch hit, if we need an important run, to be hit in.

          I do think it is still early to make a judgement that Agone can’t hit anymore, after 30 something at bats.

          And everybody should know, that Agone did hit the ball hard at AAA, when he was rehabbing, just like Ethier did last night, so we don’t know much where Ethier is, right now, either.

          But Ethier is much more use to coming back off an injury then Agone is, so this should be easier for Ethier, than Agone, because this was the first time in his entire career, that Agone has ever went out on the DL, even though he has not been always 100 percent.

          The problem with some thinking Agone and Roberts, were doing something under handed is ridiculous, since Agone was the one who volunteered to go out on the DL in the first place, when Joc came back earlier this year, from the DL, so that Cody could take over at first!

          Because Cody was originally brought up to help fill in for an outfield position, because Joc went out on the DL, and Cody can play every outfield position on the field, so his sprain was just an accident, and it had nothing to do with his play, in the outfield.

          Cody is very capable of playing any outfield position, including centerfield, so this was only a little misstep, and nothing more, and Roberts and Agone both, only want to do what is best for the team!

          How many managers do you think could pull off what Roberts has done this year, by getting every player on this team, to buy into doing what is best for the team, and we are talking about 25 players!

  2. Excellent write up there Scott. Gonzo has been a class act from day one. He is a total professional on and off the field. He has made many contributions to Dodger wins since the day he arrived. He was the best part of the trade. He gave the Dodgers something they had not had since Fernando in a Latin star to bring the fans in. He played hard, he played well, and he has done nothing to tarnish his image. He has unselfishly helped young players, both Latino and non Latino. He has offered Cody Bellinger all sorts of help on positioning and what different pitchers in the league throw. I do believe the warning signs first showed up last year. He did not go to the DL, but it was obvious that his power was diminishing, and he was hitting a lot of balls that died at the warning track. He said during this DL stint, that he would know when it was time to quit, and if he could not come back at 100%, he would consider retiring. I think Gonzo will show up at spring training next year and see if he can come back. If he does not play well in spring, I honestly believe he will retire of his own accord. I also think there is definitely a place in the Dodger organization for him. Either as a hitting instructor, or a coach. His back will never be totally healed without some sort of surgery. And at his age, even with his work ethic, I do not think that he would like to go through the kind of re-hab that would take. Next year is the final year of his contract, and Gonzo has enough class to just walk away if he cannot play. At age 35 the end of a great career is near. It happens to them all. I think Package, you do the man a disservice because he has done some great things in a Dodger uni and deserves every ones respect. He is not gone by any means. He will be with the team through this year. A lot of fans do not realize that Gonzo has been a Dodger longer than he was a Padre. Class. The man is nothing but class.

    1. Don’t we have a position like a “quality improvement officer” or something like that? Someone to just look out for things and talk to the players and the managers as needed? AGon would be great for that when he retires, he’s a great person and bilingual. I don’t think he would want a minor league position – not with a bad back with all that economy class traveling. And when Turner Ward leaves for whatever reason, he can take over as hitting instructor.

      Utley’s ultimate position would be a bench coach, in my opinion. We need to keep him around as a consultant until that happens.

      1. There is actually a quality control coach. I think that position at this time is held by Juan Castro. No, I do not think Adrian would like to coach in the minors, but he could do the same thing that Orel and Sandy do and be a instructor during spring training. He would make a good hitting coach, but he could also help the 1st basemen in the minors get better. He might even take a position as a roving instructor. Utley would be great on a coaching staff no matter where he was.

  3. Great article on the Dodgers 10 day DL use:
    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-the-dodgers-are-using-baseballs-new-dl-rules-to-get-an-edge/

    And a really good piece in the LA Times about the decade long friendship between Gonzalez and Roberts, it starts:
    In the fall of 2015, as the Dodgers searched for a new manager, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman consulted with a handful of veterans about the candidates. Adrian Gonzalez started to rave when Friedman mentioned Dave Roberts. The praise came with a caveat.

    “Dave would be great, but I can’t give you an unbiased opinion on him,” Gonzalez recalled telling Friedman. “He’s one of my best friends.”

  4. Rockies losing so far to the Tigers in the 9th inning 4-3. Blackmon has 3 hits and has raised his average to .340. So he is .011 points ahead of Turner. But I expect Justin to get hot again and raise that back up into the .330’s at least. Blackmon plays in that hitters delight of a ball park. Wouldn’t it be something if Turner passes him in Colorado that last weekend of the season when they are playing the Rocks?

  5. Rocks lose 4-3. Now 21 games out with 33 to play. Number to eliminate the Rock heads, 13. Any combination of Dodger wins and Rockie losses totaling 13 and they are toast. They are also losing ground in the wild card race. Milwaukee is 3 games behind them, the Cardinals 6 and the Marlins have closed to within 5.

    1. We inadvertently helped Milwaukee this weekend. I don’t think it’s going to be easy fir the Cubs to shake the Brewers …

      1. Milwaukee is closer to the Cubs than they are the wild card, but not by much. 2.5 games back of the Cubbies. 3 back of the Rockies in the wild card chase. We need to take at least 2of 3 from the Snakes. Twitter and MLB blowing up over who will pursue Stanton in a trade this winter. Dodgers not mentioned much there. They are mentioned as possible suitors for free agent J.D. Martinez. Plus Darvish and Arietta.

        1. I don’t think we need any FAs – save the money for our own guys. Seager and Bellinger will cost a fortune and I think they’ll be way more consistent than the exit velocity trophy cases like Stanton and Judge.

          Funny how Judge is being benched to get a breather and regroup from his prolonged slump. Meanwhile Bellinger has gotten his rest and everyone is waiting for him to rescue our lack of scoring.

  6. Great article on the Dodgers 10 day DL use:
    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-the-dodgers-are-using-baseballs-new-dl-rules-to-get-an-edge/

    And a really good piece in the LA Times about the decade long friendship between Gonzalez and Roberts, it starts:
    In the fall of 2015, as the Dodgers searched for a new manager, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman consulted with a handful of veterans about the candidates. Adrian Gonzalez started to rave when Friedman mentioned Dave Roberts. The praise came with a caveat.

    “Dave would be great, but I can’t give you an unbiased opinion on him,” Gonzalez recalled telling Friedman. “He’s one of my best friends.”

      1. Nope, he is still under contract next year for a lot of money. Only way he leaves is by trade or retirement. Of course they could go the Crawford route and just release him next year. But I think they have too much respect for the man to do that.

          1. Affirmative. He is that also. If he could not play in LA, I would hope he could end his career where he started in SD. Actually he was a Marlin first, then a Ranger, then a Padre, or something like that.

        1. The overall value be tells me that if we get a title he’ll retire on the top. If we don’t get it, then he’s going to come back as the most expensive bench bat ever.

    1. Bluto

      Thanks for the info!

      This tells you exactly what kind of guy Agone really is, he was truthful about his bias about Roberts, to Friedman!

      And what you don’t understand Package, is that there friendship doesn’t go just one way, and because of that, even if Roberts tired to go out of the way for Agone, Agone wouldn’t let Roberts do that!

      And Agone would never put Roberts, in that situation in the first place, and most good friends, wouldn’t do that to a friend either!

      And Agone proved that earlier this year, when he volunteered to go out on the DL, after Joc came back, so Cody could play first!

      Do you really think most players with Agone’s resume, would do that so easily like Agone did?

      I know you don’t trust the front office, but why would the front office, want to keep their best player, out of the line up?

      And you didn’t or don’t know even now, how badly Cody sprained his ankle, so you can’t fairly gauge this situation, and make assumptions, because you don’t know anything more then us, concerning Cody’s injury.

      But we have seen what type of guy Agone has been, since he joined this team, and he has been nothing but class, and a team player.

      Not to mention he carried this team, after Kemp and Hanley, were traded and not resigned.

      Do you think it was easy for Agone to hit in 100 runs, after they left?

      And even last year, Agone tied with Turner for the most runs hit in, on the team.

      And this team didn’t even become a team, until Roberts, became the manager of this team!

      And if anyone here thought differently, we would have no problem, speaking up about it, but we just don’t see it the same way, as you are, right now.

        1. Package

          I don’t know about that, because I walk with a slight limb!

          But I do try to be fair with everyone, including a Package, that could be tied!

      1. Oh no, MJ.

        RBIs is an even less indicative stat than BA. I mean RBI’s is really about the work of others in a large amount.

        1. Bluto

          I am aware sabers can’t quantify clutch, but it is true that Agone did hit in, a higher percentage of runs, then anyone on the team last year, and that can be quantified.

  7. This is the 2nd time you couldn’t get it. I am sorry. “He’s one of my best friends”. What do you think??? Must be the fake moon landing all over again. Get real.

  8. Another interesting article in Dodgers Way. Platoon Forsythe and AGon. Not one for one, but moving Taylor and Bellinger around. I’m marinating the idea. It’s an interesting take. Everyone should read it.

    Meanwhile Font went another 6 innings in AAA. 8 strikeouts. No runs. Roberts said he’s going with a 6 man rotation in September since they’ve got 17 games in 16 days (you read that right). Badger they have finally come around – you should come back to enjoy the next few months with us.

    1. BREAKING NEWS. Seager out of the lineup with a sore elbow. Has been dealing with the problem for a week or so. Updated to say that he will be out of the lineup until at least the weekend. Losing your best hitter before a series with the D-Backs not a good omen.

      1. Well that explains it. I thought his swing looked off the last few games. Now Verdugo will definitely be called up so Taylor can play SS. Like can hold down the fort for the next couple of days.

        1. According to Alana Rizzo, Corey has had the condition and has been managing it for a couple of weeks. He can hit, but not throw. Hold the phone there Yueh, in order to call up Verdugo they would require a roster spot, which they do not have, and with Ethier, Thompson, Pederson, coming back on Friday, I doubt that happens. Ethier can slide into left, Granderson or Thompson, Hernandez can play CF. Why put an untested rookie in that spot? I do not think that will happen.

      2. Well, I guess the Dodgers could put Seager on the DL, put AGon back at 1st and Cody to the outfield. Then put Taylor at SS. Yeah, that would be a good Robert’s move. Use Puig and Grandyman with Cody in the outfield.

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