Much has been made this off-season about a few things: The Dodgers' third base situation, left field and the No. 2 hitter.
Well, the Dodgers have one man who could fill two of those roles. The barely-newsworthy signing of Tony Gwynn this off-season has the potential to be an outstanding one.
"Potential" being the key word.
Gwynn, a career .244/.323/.314 hitter, has been on fire this spring. Gwynn does possess good plate discipline (career 11.6 percent walk rate) and Gold Glove-caliber defense. His best season came as a in 2009 as a part-time player. He hit .270/.350/.344 (93 OPS+) in 393 at-bats. He did have 48 walks in those at-bats, which shows his ability to work the count.
I've been preaching for the last few weeks that Gwynn would have to play his ass off to unseat Matt Kemp from center and move Andre Ethier to left field. Well, the only other position either has played this spring is DH, so it's safe to say Kemp and Ethier are the Dodgers' starting center- and right fielder.
However, Gwynn could unseat Jay Gibbons and/or Marcus Thames in left field.
Gibbons is 2-for-22 this spring. Thames is 7-for-23 with four doubles, but his glove won't allow him to be an every day option in left.
Gwynn, who had two hits off a left-handed pitcher yesterday, is hitting .321/.375/.429 this spring and would be the ideal No. 2 hitter in the Dodger lineup.
Casey Blake hurt the back of his rib cage on Saturday bunting after a Gwynn had singled to lead off the game. Manager Don Mattingly has stated his desire for Blake to be the team's No. 2 hitter, but I haven't been a fan of it since I first heard it.
Spring Training statistics don't mean a whole hell of a lot, but Gwynn has speed (6-for-6 in stolen bases), can bunt and do everything you'd want a traditional No. 2 hitter to do. He isn't going to hit for a lot of power, but he has the skill set to get on base; it just remains to be seen if he can put it all together.
It might be wishful thinking on my part, looking at Gwynn's career numbers, but if he's ever going to be someone other than "Tony Gwynn's son," it's going to be right now.
Besides, the Dodgers need Gwynn to be the No. 2 guy in the lineup -- Blake in the 2-hole was doomed from the start.