Right before Tuesday's game between the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves, the Marlins have designated reserve first baseman and pinch hitter Greg Dobbs for assignment in favor for utility infielder Ed Lucas who is coming off the disabled list for a broken hand and will start the game at second base.
"Versatility being the biggest key there, and just feeling like where Dobbs was and where we were as a team, it was the right thing to do," Marlins general manager Dan Jennings said.
Dobbs resigned with the Marlins on a one-year, $1.7 million deal. He never saw the field and went 1-for-13 as a pinch hitter during the season. They have ten days to trade or release Dobbs before he decides to either accept assignment or elect free agency.
"It's never a good thing when you have to move a player," Jennings said, "certainly someone who has meant to us as much as Dobbs has. But it was time for us to make that move. Ed was ready to go."
This move once again shows how useless the reserve 1B/PH role is in baseball. The last thing a first baseman needs is a backup and everyone in baseball who is a reserve player with the exception of the catcher is supposed to be versatile, otherwise there's no point in having them on the 25-man roster.
The 1B/PH role is a career ender too, even if no one wants to admit it. I covered the Arizona Diamondbacks for a local bi-monthly magazine during the 2013 season and that year 10-year MLB veteran Eric Hinskie signed a one-year deal to back up Paul Goldschmidt and come off the bench as a pinch hitter. D-backs manager Kirk Gibson equated the pinch hitter role as a kicker in football; just relax and go be a hero every now and then.
Hinskie retired in July after being let go by the Diamondbacks. So much for playing hero. He is now the first base coach of the Chicago Cubs.
Speaking of Chicago, Paul Konerko is a White Sox legend. He's played 16 years for the White Sox and gave Chicago it's first World Series championship since 1917. He's the other captain who is going through a farewell tour but no one is respecting his like Derek Jeter's because he's spending the 2014 season as the White Sox's backup 1B/DH. Now unlike Hinskie last year and Dobbs this year, Konerko will last the entire season because doing away with him prematurely would be an act of heresy.
Not even Fred McGriff could make that role worthwhile. In 2004 the Tampa Bay Devil Rays signed the Tampa native so he can hit his 500th home run for the hometown team. Backing up fellow first baseman and Tampa native Tino Martinez and Robert Fick at DH, McGriff only needed nine home runs to reach 500. He was released midseason seven shy of the milestone.
Players should know that once they're approached by a team about signing to be a reserve 1B/pinch hitter, it might as well be time to call it quits.