Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mark Loretta the utility man

With Nomar Garciaparra on the verge of retirement thanks to his injuries finally getting the best of him, the Dodgers have found a perfect replacement to fill the utility role: Mark Loretta. Loretta was signed today for 1 year and $1.4 million.

Loretta has long been known as a solid hitter, as evidenced by his career .297 AVG and .361 OBP. He'll be entering his 16th season, and is capable of playing any of the infield positions. With the way the Dodgers cycle through injuries all year, he'll definitely get his playing time.

After peeking at .335 for San Diego in 2004, his average has settled down into the .280 range the last 4 seasons. For a bench player, that's fine. While he'll never be confused with a power hitter, he hit .330 against lefties last year. He also has a career .987 fielding %. Both are encouraging numbers for next season.

With 2 lefties starting on the right side of the infield (James Loney at 1st and Blake DeWitt at 2nd), Loretta will get chances in later innings with left-handed pitchers on the mound.

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