Why do the Dodgers hate Hoffman?
Jamie Hoffman isn't a great player by any means, and he is no longer a prospect, but the Dodgers have left him out to dry multiple times this year. If he was valuable enough for the Yankees to rise to the top of the Rule 5 Draft, why wasn't he protected?
Hoffman was the 18th best prospect in the Dodgers organization going into the year according to Scout.com, and 22nd according to Baseball America. He owns a AAA batting line of .285/.362/.449. He'll go into the 2010 season at age 25, and can play CF or RF. If he defense isn't quite good enough for CF, he projects to be a 4th outfielder, like a Gabe Kapler minus some muscle.
Hoffman was first designated for assignment on September 1st, passed through waivers, and then was resigned by the Dodgers. They did not protect him from the Rule 5 draft, however. The Dodgers made the choice to protect Trayvon Robinson instead of Hoffman, by adding him to the 40 man roster in November.
So why wasn't he on the 40-man roster, and why was he DFAed in September? The answer seems to be that he was redundant on the Dodgers. The 4th outfielder role is currently held down by Xavier Paul. Jason Repko also sits higher on the blue totem pole. I would have been surprised to see anyone grab Trayvon Robinson in the Rule 5 draft, but if the Dodgers perceived that as a threat, it could certainly be argued that he deserves protection more than Hoffman.
Perhaps it just says more about the Yankees than the Dodgers. The Yankees currently have 4 outfielders on the 40-man roster. The first two, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher, are clearly going to be penciled into most Yankees line-ups in 2010. The other two outfielders would be lucky to be penciled in at all. Melky Cabrera is a glorified backup centerfielder. He simply does not have the production to justify being played in a corner outfield position. With the Granderson acquisition, Melky will be reduced to being a 2nd choice centerfielder, and a last choice corner outfielder. The last outfielder, Brett Gardner is not even a good option for a 4th outfielder. How Gardner still has a job confuses me.
Hoffman would fit in well as a 4th outfielder. He can play any outfield position, and his production will likely justify his being played on a corner. He isn't a great base stealer, but he has speed on the bases, making him a good option as a pinch runner.
So this replacement-level outfielder, the 6th choice outfielder on the Dodgers, would be the starting left fielder on the current Yankees roster. This was clearly a good choice for the Yankees. It was also very bad planning on the part of the Dodgers if they had any interest in keeping Hoffman.