One constant belief at the beginning of the year was that the Dodgers got screwed when JD Drew opted out of his contract. It had a domino effect causing the Dodgers to chase a CF and end up with Juan Pierre. The Dodgers had talked last Sept of using an outfield of Either/Drew/Kemp but when Drew left, Ned panicked and brought in not only Pierre, but Gonzo as he couldn't bear to head into the season with such a young outfield.
As we head into the final month of the season, it looks like JD Drew did us a favor. For whatever reason, JD Drew has lost a significant amount of his skill. The table below was reprinted from Baseball HQ.
Year AB BA xBA bb% ct% Eye h% Slg PX AB/HR
2004 518 .305 .300 19 78 1.02 34 .569 158 17
2005 252 .286 .290 17 80 1.02 30 .520 142 17
2006 494 .283 .287 15 79 0.84 33 .498 133 25
2007 378 .262 .245 14 78 0.73 32 .394 91 57
Drew's h% has stayed constant so that is not the problem. His ground ball rate is the same as the last two years. The walk rate has decreased 4 years in a row. This is now a player who has little power, little average, and a declining walk rate. Since his G/L/F splits are consistent with previous years, the power outage is more difficult to explain. The move from Los Angeles is clearly not helping - Dodger Stadium enhances left-handed power by 12%, while Fenway Park depresses it by 23%. Some of this is due to his abysmal numbers against LHP. It started in 2005 and it is now to the point where he is a terrible option against LHP.
Year PA AB BA OB Slug% OPS
2004 206 167 287 408 521 929
2005 89 68 235 416 279 695
2006 140 119 244 338 378 716
2007 114 103 223 281 369 650
Those are not the numbers of an everyday player. They are the numbers of a platoon player.
In 2004 he could do it all. In 2005 he was still walking at an excellent rate but had lost all power. In 2006 the walk rate dropped but the power increased. In 2007 he can't hit, walk, or hit with power. Hard to say small sample size since this is now a 3 year trend against LHP.
His VORP in 2007 is at 5.6.
Juan Pierre's VORP is at 10.9
Just for fun Jason Werth's VORP is now 12.5 and Shane Victorino's 18.3. The Phillies should be sending the Dodgers thank you's every night as their ex-Dodger outfield helps keep them a head of us in the Wild Card race.
JD Drew leaving the Dodgers was an early Christmas gift for Ned Colletti. Instead of building on gaining payroll flexibility he blew it on a hot flashy package that will haunt us for 5 years.
Could we have gone into the year with an outfield of Ethier/Kemp/Werth/Repko? I would have argued yes but I would have been wrong. Ned made the right move in bringing in Gonzo, he just made one move to many. We should have kept Werth but not counted on him. That is where Gonzo comes in.