I like Juan Rivera, I really do. When he was an Angel I’d see him do interviews, watch him play and I wanted him to be a Dodger, I felt like the Angels, who really needed offense at the time, just didn’t appreciate the talent he had as a hitter.
When finally the Dodgers got him, they use him as a #5 and then the cleanup hitter and their offense has been better ever since, especially in the clean up role with Matt Kemp batting 3rd, which I feel is his optimum spot in the lineup, more at-bats, means more chances for offense.
Here’s the issue though. It seems the Dodgers have a reputation since Ned Colletti has been GM of bringing in guys who play very well after being acquired but don’t play near that level the next season with the Dodgers; Jay Gibbons, Rod Barjas, Ted Lily, George Sherrill, Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake (kinda), Ronnie Belliard, Angel Berroa.
These players all came in via trade around the deadline or in Gibbons case called up, did well, were resigned the next season and didn’t play as well as they did after acquired. Some of them, Gibbons, Lily, Sherrill, Ramirez, Blake, were expected to fill a needed role on the team and failed. Gibbons was to be the starting left fielder this year, Lily a #3 starter, Sherrill the set-up man, Ramirez the slugger the Dodgers have always needed and Blake the vet who would help settle the young team.
The only player who really played to expectations is Blake who has been solid even this season with all the injuries. Gibbons had eye issues this year and never regained form, Lily although he is pitching well now had a horrendous stretch where he looked like a AAA pitcher, Sherrill was so bad that if he entered the game and the Dodgers had a lead I would walk away proclaiming the game is over. Manny of course got suspended for taking women’s fertility drugs and then the next season either couldn’t stay healthy or was creating phantom injuries so the Dodgers would get rid of him. Then Belliard and Berroa were just awful hitting wise but nice defensively.
So, the Dodgers don’t have a great track record lately of keeping guys and they perform up to expectations but I think Rivera is different. He can play both LF and 1B, so if the Dodgers feel that Loney isn’t the way to go he can be moved over to 1B where at his age he doesn’t have to put a lot of wear on his body so it will help his bat and his numbers are consistent with his career, he’s not hitting above or below the type of player he’s always been.
So I definitely think the Dodgers should resign him, with Ethier’s power numbers dwindling this year, Juan Rivera could be that hitter I’ve mentioned before that the Dodgers need to make them dangerous in the National League West. Next, what to do with the middle infield. Justin Sellers or Dee Gordon?