Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Maybe Alex Castellanos is the answer to the Dodgers' fourth OF question

If you've listened to any episodes of "Dugout Blues," you'll know Jared Massey might be the biggest Alex Castellanos fan on the planet. I try to keep him in check and to quell his excitement, mostly to no avail.

Well, even I can't rain on Jared's parade now, especially since Castellanos might actually get a chance to be the Dodgers' right-handed-hitting, fourth outfielder.

Castellanos started in center field in the Dodgers' second spring training game. While it's just an experiment at this point, it could be his ticket to a Major League job in 2013.

Since the Dodgers are seemingly giving up on Castellanos as an infielder, this is the next-best option.

Castellanos' bat isn't really a question. Ever since being acquired from the Cardinals in the Rafael Furcal trade, he's done nothing but hit. He got his first cup of coffee in 2012, but didn't get consistent playing time. He went 4-for-23 (.174) with a home run and eight strikeouts. A small sample size, for sure. His minor-league numbers give a better indication of his improvement.

The most important part of Castellanos' improvement is his walk rate.

A 4-percent increase could be a fluke, but it could also be Castellanos adapting and doing what he has to, thus improving his chances of having a Major League career.

Mike Petriello wrote a nice piece on Castellanos last week. Then on Monday, he wrote this:
"(A)gain, I don’t want to get too excited over anything, good or bad, based on one game, but from what I saw of Alex Castellanos, he’s going to need some real work to be an acceptable option in center field. I’m just not sure he’s got the speed for it."
So, there's that.

Petriello has also been pushing for the Dodgers to acquire a player like Casper Wells. I'm more of a Franklin Gutierrez guy myself, but either would be preferable. But maybe Castellanos can be that guy. Maybe the Dodgers don't have to expend resources on a fourth outfielder.

Wells and Gutierrez can play center field -- Gutierrez can play it especially well. That is unknown with Castellanos. Hopefully the Dodgers give him the spring to prove himself, as Matt Kemp is going to miss some of the spring and could be the designated hitter in some games.

Castellanos has one way to ensure his future: learn to play a passable center field. He's athletic enough and can play the corner outfield positions just fine.

Considering Kemp is healthy, Castellanos -- or whoever is going to be the backup center fielder -- won't be called upon to play the position much. If Castellanos can play it better than, say, Juan Pierre, he's going to be just fine.

More likely, Castellanos will serve as a part-time platoon partner (as weird as that sounds) for Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier -- assuming he makes the team.

The Dodgers didn't sign Scott Hairston, a guy capable of playing all three outfield positions with some pop off the bench. Maybe Castellanos can be the Dodgers' other Hairston. It'd be a refreshing move from the team, and it might be the smart move.


  1. I just don't get why the Dodgers never went after a right handed corner OF harder than they did. The only names that they were interested in were Torii Hunter and Andres Torres. I thought Scott Hairston would've been nice. He can play all 3 OF spots, hits lefties very well and wasn't going to cost a ton. We all know Ethier's struggles vs lefties but Crawford hasn't been very good vs them either. I dunno what I'll do if I see another full year of Ethier flailing away against lefties. It's quite embarrassing that management keeps trotting Ethier out there w/o a competent right handed option. I'm sure Castellanos, Van Slyke or any other RH OF in the Dodgers system can hit better than 230 vs lefties with a paltry 600 OPS.

  2. A Dodger GM of the past, I think It was Buzzie Bavasi , who said "it is better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late". It might be that time for Ethier,but who would want a platoon player making his kind of money. Maybe a package of capuano ,Gordon and Ethier might work, but who is available? The Dodgers would probably have to kick in some of his salary.

  3. I think a smaller deal is ok. I'm sure the Dodgers have gauged the trade market for the return of our excess pithching. I think a move will be done once the rotation is in place. Probably not a superstar but a servicable righthanded back up. Assuming AC doesn't make the squad.