Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hard Decisions Ahead

Photo Credit: Jon Soohoo 

With Spring Training camp about to break Don Mattingly and the Dodgers front office have some tough decisions to make. 
First, the ovious one, the bullpen. With Jansen and League both out, they will have to piece an Opening Day bullpen together that can compete and hold the leads for the first 2 months of the season. J.P Howell to me might be the only "lock" to make the team, other relievers such as: David Aardsma, Pedro Barz, Paco Rodriguez, Sergio Santos, Carlos Frias, Yimi Garcia, Joel Peralta, and Adam Liberator all have a viable chance of breaking with the Major League clubs out of Spring. Dustin McGowan has been cut after a rough spring and Mike Adams has been sent to the minors, with an opt out clause if he doesn't make the big league roster by June 1. 

Now, the 5th spot in the rotation. If they teams in healthy the rotation come April 6th will be: Kershaw, Greinke, McCarthy, Anderson. The Dodgers won't need a 5th starter until about the second week of the regular season. Joe Weiland has been optioned to Triple-A but he looked good in today's start versus the Chicago White Sox, only allowing 2 runs in 5 innings of work. Juan Nicasio could also be an option, both to break with the Dodgers and be the 5th starter, as they could use him out of the bullpen and start him when 5th starter is needed. Erik Bedard getting hurt affected his chances of making the club, along with Chad Gaudin they both may start in the minors or be released. 

The bench situation may be the toughest of all the decisions Donny will have to make. Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke will be with the big league club on April 6th, but which other 2 players will join them? If Andre Ethier is not traded we could see him or Joc Pederson as a lefty and Out Fielder off the bench and Dodgers will have to choose between Darwin Barney and Alex Guerrero for the last spot on the bench. But if Ethier is traded or Pederson gets sent to the minors, which could occur just so he can get reps in before Ethier is traded, then both Guerrero and Barney will be with the Big League camp at the end of spring training. Some other players with an outside chance of making the Opening Day roster are: Chris Heisey (OF) , Kike Hernandez (Utl), Darnell Sweeney (Utl), and Scott Schebler (OF). 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Dodgers sign Garcia

I'm guessing a pitcher other than the starting 4 (Kershaw, Greinke,McCarthy, and Anderson) has not impressed the Dodger front office. Tonight the Dodgers went out and signed Freddy Garcia. The 38 year old Venezuelan has not pitched in the majors since 2013. He made 3 starts, 6 appearances only logging in 27.1 innings before being released by the Braves. He only signed a minor league deal, so they might just want to see what he has left in the tank. Ryu is scheduled for another MRI next week, after finding nothing in his left shoulder last week and being shut down for rest this week. So we will see the extent of Ryu's absence and whether Garcia still has what it takes to pitch in the big leagues.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In Need of Pitching

Photo Credit: John Soohoo

The Dodgers have been bitten by the injury bug this spring. First it was Jansen, then Ryu, and now League. League was a favorite to take over the closer role while Jansen was out, not a popular choice if you ask Dodger fans but his numbers were very good last year. Now with both League and Jansen out the Dodgers might have to rely on new faces. Joel Peralta (acquired from the Rays) was hurt in the beginning of camp but now seems to be on track to be on the Opening Day roster. Dustin McCown seems to be another viable bullpen arm, along with David Aardsma (both signed minor league contracts at the start of mapping training). Joe Weiland (squired from the Padres) and Chris Hatcher (aquired from the Marlins) are having solid springs and have a good shot at starting the MLB season in the bullpen, though Weiland is also being looked at to fill in for Ryu. Ex White Soxs and Blue Jays closer Sergio Santos (also under minor league contract) has turned some heads and has shown that he might still have MLB closer quality "stuff." These new faces along with some young faces that we saw last year in the majors bullpe; Yimi Garcia, Carlos Frias, and Pedro Baez, are battling for bullpen spots as right handed relievers. On the left side it's down to 3 possible candidates; J.P Howell, Paco Rodriguez, and Adam Liberatore for 2 or 1 (last season Dodgers opened the season with only J.P Howell as their lone lefty in the pen) spot. 

As for the Ryu situation, he will start the season on the DL. Dodgers are saying that they are trying to aquire a back of the rotation starter. Possible candidates include two Orioles in Ubaldo Jimenez and Miguel Gonzalez, Gavin Floyd (now with the Indians), and Tanner Roark. Some in house options include: Juan Nicasio, Joe Weiland, Erik Bedard (minor league contract), and Zac Lee. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Filling in for Ryu

Photo Credit: Jon Soohoo 

Hun-Jin Ryu is having shoulder trouble again. He is set to fly to Los Angeles and have it checked out by team doctors. Don Matingley meanwhile has scratched him from the Opening Day roster, stating that they will take their time with him and will most likely go on the DL.
 As for the extent of the injury, we are not sure yet. At first they thought it might be fatigue, now they fear it's much worse. The Dodgers do have a couple players in camp that can fill in while Ryu returns. No, Julio Urias is not one of them. Some in house starting pitchers that can potentially fill in as the 5th starter are: Juan Nicasio (who was sign this season), Erik Bedard (who currently has a minor league contract), Joe Weiland (who the Dodgers acquired in the Matt Kemp deal), Zac Lee (who isn't too impressive this spring), and Carlos Frias (who had a couple starts with the Dodgers last season, but mainly came out of the pen). The Dodgers can also try and add another starter via trade. No they are not going to trade for Cole Hammels, they are looking for a back of the rotation starter, some examples could be: Ubaldo Jimenez (Dodgers can take on the contract and give up little to no prospects ) , Gavin Floyd (now with the Indians), Jesse Chavez (from the A's), or Tanner Roark (he maybe a long shot, but he is also the Nationals odd man out in their 5 man rotation). 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Guerrero is Heating Up

Photo Credit: Jon Soohoo 

 The Center Field battle is not the only one that is heating up! Joc Pederson has been playing well all spring, but now Andre Ethier is heating up. And with no one taking a flyer on Ethier, even though there are reports that the Dodgers are willing to pay for half his salary for solid piece(s) back. But there is word that the Dodgers are not only are offering Ethier, but either Darwin Barney or Alex Guerrero to go with him. Barney is a solid defender with an inconsistent bat, he does posses some speed, and is proven a professional. On the other hand we have Guerrero, who is turning heads and has stated that he wants to be in the Majors this year, either with the Dodgers or else where. Guerrero has an out clause if the Dodgers don't keep him  in the Major League roster come Opening Day. With Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke a lock to be bench players come April, there might only be 2 spots left on the bench. This is assuming Ethier gets traded or Pederson gets sent down.  Guerrero has played a little in Left Field, so Don Mattingley might elect to have both Guerrero and Barney on the major league roster, with only Van Slyke being the true OF. But he has stated that he would want two OF so he has the option of playing Van Slyke at 1st base, giving Adrian Gonzalez days off. So, in my opinion Chris Heisey, Darnell Sweeney, and Scott Schebler will be in the Majors come April along side Van Slyke and Turner. As for the Guerrero and Barney situation, I believe Guerrero has the biggest upside and can become a starting third baseman next year when Uribe is no longer under contract, so keep him! And we will see Ethier and Barney traded by the end of Spring Training, Dodgers need the bullpen help. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Another Young Dodger Turning Heads

Photo Credit: Jon Soohoo 

Most Dodger fans know about the Dodgers' top three prospects: Corey Seager, Julio Urias, and Joc Pederson. But there has been another Dodger turning heads, Darnell Sweeney. The 24 year old college Short Stop out of the University of Central was drafted by the Dodgers in the 13th round of the 2012 First Year Player Draft. But with Seager at short the Dodgers have elected to convert him in to a utility player, mainly playing Second Base and Center Field. Last year while playing for the Dodgers' AA affiliate Chattanooga Lookouts he was selected to the Southern League All-Star Game and in 132 games played he finished with a .288 batting average, 14 Home Runs, 15 steals, and led the Southern League with 88 runs scored. He followed that impressive minor league season by playing in the Arizona Fall League with the Glendale Desert Dogs  where he posted a .316 batting average, with 2 home runs, 3 steals, and 14 runs scored in 19 games. The 6 foot 1 switch hitter climbed up the prospect rankings last year and is now the Dodgers' 13th top prospect. This spring he has impressed, hitting 2 home runs, batting .429, and 6 RBIs in 14 at bats. 4 of those RBIs came in today's game vs the A's, when he launched an opposite field Grand Slam. He might not make the Dodgers' opening day roster, but I have good feeling he will be wearing a Dodger uniform in the big leagues this year. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Future Dodger SS

Photo Credit: Jon Soohoo

If you haven't yet heard of him, you will after this Spring. Dodgers's top prospect, rated higher than Julio Urias, Corey Seager. The 6 foot 4, 19 year old has been turning heads with his quick bat, great plate discipline, and slick fielding. In 15 at bats this spring he has 3 base hits and 5 walks, that's a .300 batting average. With Jimmy Rollins under contract for only this year, and the Dodgers trying to go younger... Joc Pederson may win the Rookie of the Year this year and Corey Seager next year. It could be like the 90's all over again, with solid Rookie of the Years in consecutive years. And let's not forget young Julio Urias, who the Dodgers want to take their time with, but we might see soon enough.  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Kershaw with the W

Photo Credot: Jon Soohoo

It might only be Spring Training but Kershaw looked dominant. He went 2 innings and struck out 3, including Jose Abreu with a knee buckling curve. Kershaw was not the only one who impressed, in the battle for the Center Field starting job Joc Pederson picked up another single, going 1-2. Corey Seager also saw his first action of the spring at SS, following his 1-1 (with a walk) performance yesterday after coming in as a DH (taking over for Joc) he went 0-1 but did work out 2 base on balls. Puig saw his first at bats of this spring, he went 0-2 but did pick up an RBI. Taking over for Puig in RF was O'Koyea Dickson, who has been turning heads. Dickson who hit a solo HR in yesterday's game (going 1-2), hit an RBI double today (also going 1-2). And Guerrero continues to hit as well, as he is battling for a bench role, he went 1-2 with a run scored. Dodgers won 6-1. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dodgers vs White Sox

Photo Credit: Jon Soohoo

Spring training games are on their way and the Dodgers and White Sox had their first game of the Spring today. The Dodgers fell 6-4 but there was a lot to happy about for Dodger fans. For starters, yes Andre Ethier started in CF where he dropped a tough catch going towards the CF wall and went 0 for 2 with 2 K's, but the rookie Joc Pederson shined at the plate. Yes I know it's only the first game of Spring Training, but Joc went 2-2 and his swing seemed to have shortened up since last year. So thus far in the battle for the starting CF job it's Joc 1 - Ethier 0. Also in today's game we saw Corey Seager pick up a single and a base on balls going 1-1. Sweeney, a Dodger short stop prospect, in CF also going 1-1 with a single and a walk. Alex Guerrero who is looking to be in the MLB at the start at the regular season played some third base today, backing up Juan Uribe and going 2-2. The Dodgers are out of options when it comes to Guerrero, it's either keep him at the big league level or pay the remainder of his contract and watch him walk. 
There are a lot of stories to follow this Spring for the Dodgers: the CF battle, who will make the "bench squad" , who will start the season as the closer (while Kenley is out), who will be the set-up man, who will be the 5th starting pitcher, and can Puig be a bat the Dodgers can rely on. 
Tomorrow we get our first look at the Dodgers opening day starter, last years Cy Young and MVP, Clayton Kershaw. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Predictions for 2015

Photo Credit Jon Soohoo

Don Mattingley has announced today that Clayton Kershaw will get the ball to start the 2015 season for the Dodgers vs the Padres, and Matt Kemp, at Chavez Ravine. This comes to no ones surprise, this could be Kershaw's 5th consecutive Opening Game start. 

With Spring Training games on their way, the Dodgers face the White Sox at Camelback Ranch this Wednesday. And it will be the veteran lefty getting the start. No, not Kershaw, Erick Bedard. Bedard will start in hopes he can find a roster spot, after only getting a Spring Training invite this winter. He will kick off the Dodgers quest for a World Series ring. 

Now with all that being said, here are my predictions for the 2015 season: 
Let's start with the National League,
NL West     - Dodgers 
NL East      - Nationals
NL Central  - Cardinals
Wild Cards  - Pirates 
                   - Marlins

I don't see the Padres getting a Wild Card do to their terrible Outfield defense. Yes they have gotten better offensively , but they don't have a true CF, SS, or lead off. As for the Giants, it's an even year. Cubs are a year away from truly competing and Brewers will find a way to collapse in the second half. 

American League: 
AL West - Mariners
AL East - Orioles 
AL Central - White Sox
Wild Cards - Tigers
                  - Red Sox

I still think that the AL East is the most competitive division in the AL, but don't sleep on Buck's O's. I don't think that the Yankees have done enough to bolster their rotation, there are still a lot of question marks there. Blue Jays still need pitching. Rays have cleaned house, and with no Maddon there, don't think it will work as well. Indians have tons of pitching, but lack the offense. Royals will miss James Shield and their offense will be lacking without Billy Butler. Twins, will finish in last. Astros are a couple years away from competing. A's and Billy Bean have tinkered way too much, losing power bats in Moss, Cespedes, and Donaldson will hurt them. Rangers will compete, but feel like they will fall short.