Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Training battles emerging, plus roster cuts and ownership news

The Dodgers made their second round of Spring Training cuts today, reassigning Jeff Baisley, Gorman Erickson, Matt Wallach and Lance Zawadzki to minor league camp. The Dodgers also gave Alberto Castillo his outright release.

Absolutely no surprises here. The only two of note in the group are Erickson and Wallach. Erickson will likely begin the season in Chattanooga with the Lookouts after getting a taste of Double-A late last season. Wallach, who spent 76 of his 79 games with the Lookouts last season, should back up Tim Federowicz in Albuquerque with the Isotopes.

The roster sits at 49 players. It obviously has to be down to 25 before Opening Day. There are a few interesting battles developing.

Jerry Sands vs. Josh Fields
- This isn't exactly a position battle, but both players are right-handed and aiming for bench spots. Sands, my No. 1 prospect a year ago, hasn't exactly lit up Spring Training while Fields has. However, this could (and should) come down to playing time. The Dodgers aren't going to platoon Andre Ethier and James Loney and Juan Rivera (with his $4.5 million contract) is certainly not going to sit. So, it seems Sands will begin the season in Triple-A.

Fields played part of last season in Japan and is making a str0ng case to be on the Dodgers' bench to start the season. I could see it happening because the bench, as constructed, looks to lack power -- not just right-handed power.

Justin Sellers vs. Ivan De Jesus
- Sellers has the edge in this matchup due to his ability to play shortstop. Without Sellers, there is no viable backup option to Dee Gordon (and no, Jerry Hairston is not viable). Sellers is also hitting well in Spring Training and had a couple moments with the team last year.

De Jesus has long since been in the team's doghouse (at least it seems that way) and just suffered an injury to his left oblique. It's not known how serious it is, but that, coupled with the fact he hasn't hit well and can't play shortstop more than in a pinch, should really about seal it for Sellers.

John Grabow vs. Josh Lindblom
- Grabow was signed earlier in December and I predicted he'd make the club out of Spring Training. So far, Grabow has thrown 4 2/3 innings of scoreless ball and has six strikeouts. He's making quite the case to be the Dodgers' second lefty out of the bullpen.

Lindblom has been fine so far, but he has options remaining and the fact that Scott Elbert is the only left-hander could lead the team to sending him to Triple-A. Matt Guerrier has back issues right now and could open a door for Lindblom to make the team if he starts the season on the disabled list.


Bill Shaikin brings us news of something huge going on in the Dodgers' ownership race.
"Patrick Soon-Shiong, the richest man in Los Angeles, has joined the Dodgers bid group led by hedge-fund billionaire Steven Cohen.

The alliance is the strongest indication yet of Cohen's intention to present outgoing owner Frank McCourt with a final bid that reflects prominent local support rather than just overwhelming East Coast money.

If McCourt were to accept the Cohen bid, he would be rejecting one led by local icon Magic Johnson. Soon-Shiong has held several meetings with McCourt since the Dodgers were put up for sale in November, according to people familiar with the process."
Well, that about settles that. With Soon-Shiong joining Cohen's group, a group that reportedly has the most up-front money included in its bid (roughly $500 million), it's hard to see how the richest man in Los Angeles joining the group is anything but good Cohen.

Speculation was Soon-Shiong was to join the Johnson-Stan Kasten group, but that obviously never materialized.

Cohen also reportedly has interest in bringing in former Cardinals' and Athletics' manager Tony LaRussa, recently retired, to oversee baseball operations for the club. While the prospect isn 't exciting, despite LaRussa winning two World Series titles in St. Louis and one in Oakland, it's about time we start to accept it and get used to it.

Mike Petriello has a good post on it while trying to look on the bright side of today's breaking news.
"Now, I’ve been pretty clear how against Cohen I’ve been since the beginning of this process. Now that it seems he’s the clear frontrunner, I’m trying to look on the bright side here, and there’s one massive bright side: Cohen and Soon-Shiong are estimated to be worth over $15 billion between the two of them. That means we may not have to worry so much about whether a record-setting purchase price would impact the ability to invest in the team and stadium; it also means that we may not have to worry about a large amount of debt being a part of the purchase price."
There should be a lot of news in the last two weeks of the saga. April 1 is the day all Dodger fans are anxious and eager to see.

Photo credit: wisely on Flickr

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