June 22, 2010

Bon voyage, Mr. Dobbs.

In 2008, Greg Dobbs led the majors with 22 pinch-hits. He hit .301 for the season with an .824 OPS, and he was 7 for 14 in the postseason with two runs scored, the icing on the cake of one of the best pinch-hitting years in Philadelphia Phillies history.

But last year, Dobbs regressed back to a .679 OPS, and in 2010 he was down to .465. By comparison, Wilson Valdez's 2010 OPS is a whopping .642, and Wilson Valdez is not employed for his bat. Hell, Juan Castro's OPS is higher, and Juan Castro truly sucks. Dobbs' defensive shortcomings were now glaringly obvious whenever he'd step in for Placido Polanco at third base, and even the squawkers on Beerleaguer were complaining less and less about getting Dobbs some at-bats and keeping his head in the game. Eventually, they started calling for his head, and today, they got it.

If Greg Dobbs had been plying his trade for any other team in baseball, they would have sent him packing after last year. Cheap, left-handed, no-glove bench offense isn't the hardest thing to find. But because he was a member of the 2008 Phillies, perhaps the most beloved Philadelphia team in the last three decades, he was instead making $1.35 million in 2010. Much like Jamie Moyer's two-year deal (which, oddly, isn't looking so bad anymore), Dobbs was a recipient of post-2008 love; giving a two-year deal to a previously inconsistent bench bat would have been chastised like mad...except after a World Fucking Championship.

I'll cheer the hell out of him when he returns for a 2008 team reunion day at Citizens Bank Park, but frankly, I hope someone claims him off waivers and he's no longer our concern, not even as an IronPig. As more and more mediocre teams start throwing in the 2010 towel, competent bench players will start flooding the market. An ambitious team could already make a move for a versatile player like Ty Wigginton, someone who would actually look good in red-and-white pinstripes.

But moves like that would never happen if the 2008 gravy train didn't finally pull into the station. Was it one of the best sporting years of my life? Absolutely. Was Greg Dobbs, surprisingly, a key part of that? Yes, he was. But the 2010 Phillies are floundering, and Dobbs was dead weight. You don't let bench players "work out the kinks" for 16, 17 months in the hope that they'll get their bats back. You cut them and find other bats, especially if you're a big-market team like the Phillies. In fact, let's hope that Castro is next to follow him out the door if/when Jimmy Rollins proves himself healthy.

There's not many moves Ruben Amaro Jr. can make with this team, beyond closing his eyes and hoping for the best. There's too much invested in a few big names, and frankly, they're way too talented to be where they are, 5.5 out at nearly the end of June. But a change was certainly in order, and setting Dobbs free is a baby step in the right direction. Let's hope, for all of our sakes, that this is the kick in the ass the Phillies needed.

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