Monday, March 25, 2013

Dodgers have some tough decisions to make about opening day roster

The Dodgers have 38 players remaining in Major League camp after releasing reliever Mark Lowe on Sunday. The number has to be down to 25 by the time the Dodgers open the season on April 1 at Dodger Stadium against the Giants.

There are clearly locks for the roster (Kemp, Kershaw, et al), and some who weren't locks just as recently as a couple weeks ago (Uribe).

There are still some decisions to make regarding the first 25 -- the biggest of which being Yasiel Puig.

There are also decisions to be made about the bullpen and the Dodgers' excess starting pitchers.

The locks

Catcher (2/2)
A.J. Ellis
Tim Federowicz

Infield (5/5)
Luis Cruz
Mark Ellis
Adrian Gonzalez
Nick Punto 
Hanley Ramirez (DL)
Juan Uribe

Outfield (4/6)
Andre Ethier
Jerry Hairston
Matt Kemp
Skip Schumaker

Starting pitcher (5/5)
Josh Beckett
Chad Billingsley
Zack Greinke
Clayton Kershaw
Ted Lilly (DL)
Hyun-Jin Ryu

Relief pitcher (5/7)
Ronald Belisario
Chris Capuano
J.P. Howell
Kenley Jansen
Brandon League

There are only a few spots still up for contention. A couple spots in the bullpen and a couple spots on the bench.

With Ramirez's injury, Uribe (unfortunately) becomes a lock, as Cruz will move to shortstop from third base. My preference is for Dee Gordon to get a shot at shortstop and to keep Cruz at third while Ramirez is out. That doesn't appear too likely at this point.

The big question comes in the outfield. While all signs point to Carl Crawford being ready for April 1, I'm still not convinced. Oh, and there's the Puig question. When spring training started, there was virtually no chance of Puig breaking camp with the team. Now, it's a legitimate question, even if folks in the know think he's destined for Double-A.

Also, Alex Castellanos was vying for the 25th-man spot before Puig took off. He could still get a shot, especially if Crawford is ready on time.

My guess: Crawford and Castellanos make the team.

In the bullpen, the Dodgers have a couple spots to fill. At this point, I have Capuano making the 'pen as a long reliever, making Howell the only situational lefty available. That gives Paco Rodriguez a better chance to make the club. Scott Elbert isn't fully recovered from his two winter surgeries, also giving Rodriguez a good shot of making the club.

As for non-roster invitees, Kevin Gregg and Peter Moylan are the only two remaining. The Dodgers seem to have a non-roster invitee -- usually a reliever -- make the squad.
  • Gregg's line: 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 HR 0 BB, 4 K
  • Moylan's line: 7 1/3 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 3 HR, 4 BB, 8 K
If we're going off spring training stats (which we shouldn't), Gregg is the clear winner. However, Moylan has better numbers in the regular season. But Moylan has thrown just 13 1/3 innings in the last two season -- combined. I don't think both pitchers make the squad, though.

The Dodgers could do something surprising and go with Josh Wall, who has struck out 12 batters in 10 1/3 spring innings. But that probably won't happen.

My guess: Rodriguez and Moylan get the nod to fill out the bullpen.

As for Aaron Harang, I really think he's traded or designated for assignment by opening day. He seems like the worst fit of the Dodgers' surplus of starters to pitch out of the bullpen.

Here's hoping a team steps up and makes a play for Harang. even a fringy reliever prospect would be just fine.

Portion of Ramirez's salary to be paid by WBC

Buster Olney and Ken Rosenthal reported Sunday the World Baseball Classic will be responsible for Hanley Ramirez's salary while he's on the disabled list.
For the pre-2012 Dodgers, this would have been great. For a team projected to have a $230-plus million payroll, it doesn't really matter much. It's at least a "nice" consolation for losing Ramirez for two months.

First mock draft of 2013

John Sickels at Minor League Ball posted his first 2013 mock draft on Saturday. Sickels alternated picks with Matt Garrioch, a writer fro the site. Garrioch had the Dodgers' pick and mocked RHP Dustin Driver from Wenatchee High School (Wash.) at No. 19.
"The Dodgers have went a different direction under their new ownership but due to the new basic agreement spending restrictions, I don't see it changing their philosophy in the draft. Jon Crawford could join his Florida teammate quickly if they would go that direction. Ryan Boldt is a name worth considering here as is currently injured Austin Wilson. Reese McGuire could be an intriguing pick here, as they really have no catching depth but that could actually hinder him if they would rush him just because they lack depth and that urge would be there. I think I will go with a local high school arm in Dustin Driver, RHP, California HS"
Driver is 6'2, 210 pounds with a solid fastball for a prep pitcher (91-93 MPH, touches 94). Some view him as a relief prospect because he lacks consistent secondary offerings. But he fits the Logan White profile: high schooler with projectable frame and a quality fastball. Here's a video of him at a high school showcase in San Diego.

The draft is less than three months away. Looking forward to it.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue


  1. Not quite sure why anybody is surprised that Uribe would be on the roster at this point. I mean, last year, when Uribe hit a whopping .199, less than the weight of most of the Dodgers' beat writers, I don't believe there was ever any serious thought given to him being released/DFA/taken out back to be beaten with a sack of oranges/etc. yes, I know fans have been clamouring for his head since basically day 1 (especially considering his contract) but he has always been given every single chance to prove how worthless he is.

    Even before this mini hot streak of his, did the team ever given any indication that he wouldn't be on the final roster? can't say I've seen evidence of that.

  2. I expect Matt Guerrier will have a RP spot Not that I want him to. I would like to see Paco and Josh Wall make it. Also Shawn Tolleson will be at AAA.

    I like Herrera but there really is no spot for him.

    1. Dammit, forgot about Guerrier. He'll make it over Rodriguez, I assume. Moylan or Gregg are making tr squad. It's the down side of having minor-league options.

    2. Paco being a lefty might make it. He has had a good spring.

      Gregg has been very good but each year it seems he is a first half player. Don't know which one makes it - Gregg or Moylan.

      I would take Tolleson over Guerrier but as you say the downside of minor league options.

  3. Agree 100% with your conclusions, if not your preferences, e.g., I would like to see Gordon play everyday in AAA. I think he needs more playing time to improve his chances of long-term success for the Dodgers.-bobsince58