The LA Dodgers Player Roster In 2013: State Of The Union Mar.28

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Thursday Mar.28/2013

 

The Dodgers are putting the other National League teams to shame with payroll and have assembled an ALL - Star Squad with 8 Starting Pitchers, perhaps the best athletic Outfield in the Major Leagues.

The Dodgers are putting the other National League teams to shame with payroll – and have assembled an ALL – Star Squad with 8 Starting Pitchers, with perhaps the best athletic Outfield in the Major Leagues.  The Dodgers spent most of the 1st half of the 2012 campaign in the NL West before injuries crippled the product on the field.  A blockbuster trade late in August saw the club win 8 of the last 10 games after struggling to gel early.  Skipper Don Mattingly is in the last year of his contract, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez will try to put their 2012 fiasco behind them.  Home grown talent, Kemp and Ethier will be in the best opening lineup since they came up to the Majors. Could all of this equal a World Series Berth?

By Enrique Rivera (Dodgers Correspondent): 

The Los Angeles Dodgers franchise had an exciting 2012. From March, when Magic Johnson was announced as part of a group that had bought the Dodgers, to June, when Los Angeles gave Yasiel Puig $42 Million, this has been a wild year for the Dodgers.

After all of the hype surrounding the new Dodgers seemingly died down, they committed $147 Million to Zack Greinke. The N.L. West has been dominated by the Giants in the last couple years, but one has to wonder if the Dodgers recent moves make them the favorite to win the N.L. West in 2013?

Clayton Kershaw 2012 Highlights – Mature Lyrics So Parental Guidance Advised:

Zack Greinke joins an ALL - Star pitching squad as the #2 Starter.Despite having soreness in his elbow, it is supposed to be just cautionary to have kept him out of some Spring Training games.

Zack Greinke joins an ALL – Star pitching squad as the #2 Starter.Despite having soreness in his elbow, it is supposed to be just cautionary to have kept him out of some Spring Training games.

Notable Departures:

OF – Shane Victorino (Signed with BOS)
OF – Bobby Abreu (Free Agent)
INF – Adam Kennedy (Free Agent)
C – Matt Treanor and RHP Todd Coffey (Dodgers declined 2013  Team Option)
RHP – Joe Blanton (Signed with Angels)
LHP – Randy Choate (Signed with Cardinals)

Key Acquisitions:

RHP – Zack Greinke (Free Agency)
LHP – Hyun-Jin Ryu (Free Agency)
LHP – J.P. Howell (Free Agency)
INF – Skip Schumaker (Trade with Cardinals)

INFIELD:

Catcher – The Dodgers are indeed relying on A.J. Ellis to perform like he did at the beginning of last season. Manager Don Mattingly hasn’t made it a secret he will have Ellis start and be the everyday Catcher. Ellis hit .270 with 13 HRs and 52 RBI. 

Last year was Ellis’ full year as a starter which could be associated with his end of the year slump.  He played 133 games, having Matt Treanor as his backup catcher.  This year it’s looking like younger Tim Federowicz will be his backup. Federowicz came to the Dodgers in 2011 in a deal that send pitcher Erik Bedard to the Red Sox and a outfielder ( Trayvon Robinson ) to the Mariners.

First Base – The First Base position belongs to Adrian Gonzalez. After being traded to the Dodgers near the end of the season last year, the four-time ALL – Star hit .297 with 22 RBI in 36 games with the Dodgers.  Being back in California should help rejuvenate his career.

Second Base – The Dodgers have many different players they can use at second base. Veteran Mark Ellis looks like the guy to start for Opening Day. Ellis played 110 games for the Dodgers last season hitting .258 with 7 HRs and 31 RBI. Along with playing Second base, he will also be number 2 in the lineup.

This is expected to be Ellis’ last year with the Dodgers as his two-year contract will expire. Dodgers can also use Infielder Nick Punto at Second. Punto came along with Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford in the big Red Sox deal and played only 13 games hitting .250. Dodgers can also use infielder Skip Schumaker, who was acquired this offseason in a trade with the Cardinals.

Shortstop – With Hanley Ramirez‘s spring training sprained-thumb injury – that will have him sidelined for about two months, the Dodgers are now looking at Luis Cruz to be the starting Shortstop. Cruz was the biggest surprised for the Dodgers last year when he hit .297 with 6 HRs and 40 RBI in 78 games.

Cruz is also the new fan-favorite and if he can be solid again this year, the Ramirez injury doesn’t so bad. If Cruz fails to perform, Dodgers can also have speedy Dee Gordon in the Minors to call- up.  Gordon lost his job last year after playing poor defense and failing to get on base.

Third Base – It’s looking like Juan Uribe will get another chance to be a starter for the Dodgers, especially after Ramirez’s injury forcing Cruz to be used at short. Uribe with a disappointing Dodger career so far – coming off a 2010 World Series victory with the Dodgers rival – San Francisco Giants.

The two-time World Series champ has accumulated a batting average of about .198 in his first two years out his three-year deal with the Dodgers.

This is also off a year in which he hit .248 with 24 HRs and  85 RBI with the Giants. Going to the rival team and not hitting nowhere close to that never suits well with Dodger fans. Mattingly and the coaching staff are going with him regardless, also because it cost the Dodgers $21 Million to sign him.

If he fails to perform again, like second base, the Dodgers have Punto and Schumaker to use on Third Base.

OUTFIELD:

Center Field – Matt Kemp has turned himself into the face of the Dodgers ball club. Kemp seems to be ready and healthy after an injury last year costing him over 60 games. He was still able to smash 23 HRs and hit .303. 

In 2011, he was the runner-up for the N.L. MVP to Ryan Braun. If he continues to get protection and help from Gonzalez and Andre Ethier and if continues to stay healthy, Kemp is poised to have another MVP type season and could the first Dodger MVP since Kirk Gibson in 1988.

Left Field – Carl Crawford will be ready in time for Opening Day. Again, Crawford was acquired last year in the big deal between the Dodgers and the Red Sox. Crawford had a disappointing time in Boston after signing a huge deal 7 – year deal with the Red Sox. He hit a total of about .269 with Boston, nothing compared to his big years with the Red Sox A.L. East rival Tampa Bay Rays.

Crawford lost a lot of playing time when he had Tommy John surgery last year. Now, Mattingly is confident that Crawford is ready enough to start and be the Opening Day left fielder. Of course, Dodgers have a backup plan by having Elian Herrera, Jerry Hairston Jr. and of course, the young talented Yasiel Puig (even though he is expected to start the season in the Minors).

Right Field – After being rumored to be traded for the most of the offseason, Andre Ethier is still with the Dodgers and will still play Right Field for them. Ethier’s power numbers haven’t been the same since his ’09 31 HR season – but still has been able to come up in clutch moments for the Dodgers. The Dodgers’ biggest concern is whether he can hit Left-Handers, as he struggled last year hitting only .222 against them – while hitting .325 against Right – Handers.

STARTING PITCHERS:

The Dodgers have a handful of guys who can be part of the rotation, almost like an 9-guy rotation. Knowing he can’t have eight guys, Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt will have a tough task of choosing the guys in the rotation as well as how will the rotation look like.

The 2011 Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw has already been named as the Opening Day starter and the number 1 guy but who’s going next? Mattingly is looking at Chad Billingsley and newly acquired Korean pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The Dodger manager has said one of those guys will be number two to go and it will be safe to assume that the one who doesn’t win the number two spot will get the number three spot. That would might put newly acquired Zack Greinke as the fourth guy, if he will be ready.

Leaving Josh Beckett as the fifth guy. So could be Kershaw, Billingsley/Ryu, Bllingsley/Ryu, Greinke, Beckett. But what about veterans Aaron Harang, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and young Stephen Fife?

The rotation is certainly not yet finalized but it’s looking like these guys are just competing for a major league roster spot, at least Harang and Capuano are and they haven’t been too sharp during Spring Training so it’s looking less likely for them. The Dodgers are mostly looking to build their credibility for trading bait.

BULLPEN:

The Dodgers seemed to increase its pitching depth much more by strengthening its bullpen. The departure of Randy Choate inspired the Dodgers to sign Left-hander J.P. Howell. Howell posted a 3.04 ERA in 55 games last year for the Tampa Rays, if he can adjust to the National League Howell can be a great weapon for those Left-Handers.

Dodgers also signed Brandon League who came to the Dodgers last year in a trade with the Seattle Mariners. League appeared in 28 games for the Dodgers and posted a 2.30 ERA, another weapon for the Bullpen. Dodgers also have Ronald Belisario (8-1, 2.54, 68 G in 2012), Matt Guerrier  (who is coming off from an injury in 2012), and young Josh Wall. Not to mention, those pitchers who didn’t win the starting job (Harang, Capuano, Fife, Lilly) can also be used in the bullpen if they can/willing to adjust.

The closer seems to be like it’s going to Kenley Jansen. Jansen took over for former closer Javy Guerra last year when Guerra struggled to close games. Jansen picked up 25 saves in 32 Save Opportunities -while posting a 2.35 ERA. Jansen also is coming from surgery with an irregular heartbeat – so the Dodgers are hoping he can stay healthy and close a handful of games for them.

Matt Kemp was headed for a 40.40 season last year before injuries sidelined him.  With Carl Crawford patrolling the OF with him, the team is capable of hitting 90 Home Runs and Stealing 90 Bases in 2013. What is even better is that all of them are signed long - term.  After leading the NL in HRs(39) and RBI (126) in 2011, Kemp was at a 3 Slash Line of .355/.444/1.163 with 12 HRs and 28 RBI in 2012 through just 36 Games Played and 121 AB.

Matt Kemp was headed for a 40 – 50 HR season last year before injuries sidelined him. With Carl Crawford patrolling the OF with him, the team is capable of hitting 90 Home Runs and Stealing 90 Bases in 2013. What is even better, is that all of them are signed long – term. After leading the NL in HRs (39) and RBI (126) in 2011, Kemp was at a 3 Slash Line of .355/.444/1.163 with 12 HRs and 28 RBI in 2012 (through just 36 Games Played – and 121 AB.)  His last 70 Games Played just netted him 11 additional HRs and 41 RBI recovering from a problematic hamstring injury.

***The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners***

Today’s feature was prepared by our Dodgers Correspondent Enrique Rivera.    You can also follow Enrique on Twitter 

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Posted on March 28, 2013, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The LA Dodgers Player Roster In 2013: State Of The Union Mar.28.

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