Monday, March 28, 2016

Dodgers Closing In On 2016 Roster

Who makes the 2016 final cut?
As the Dodgers are getting ready to break camp on Wednesday and head home to begin the annual Freeway Series with the Angels, it is a perfect time to speculate on the final 25-man roster. Team officials are surely losing sleep over all of the injuries the team has endured throughout spring training and are crossing fingers the blood-letting is over. The 14-car pile-up that is the Dodgers current injury list (yes, that many) could make for some interesting roster decisions.

Kershaw ready to lead the staff.
(photo courtesy Cindy Murphy)
Starting Pitching Staff (5 spots)
Can Lee capture the #5?
(photo courtesy Cindy Murphy)
One through four is an easy call with ace Clayton Kershaw (great spring, raring to go as usual) leading the way, followed by Scott Kazmir (luckily his abdominal issue turned out only to be a dehydration cramp the other day), then a very solid looking Kenta Maeda, an ever-improving Alex Wood, followed by, drum roll, please...the insert-a-new-name-every-five-days-guy. I am only half-kidding. Due to injuries to #5 frontrunners, Mike Bolsinger (left oblique), and Brandon Beachy (left arm soreness), and no clearcut winner for the job between Carlos Frias and Zach Lee, it looks like we will get a combination of the two depending upon match-ups. Then when Bolsinger and Beachy are ready, they, too, will probably join the #5 parade. This sounds a lot like last year's "drive to find number five," which was pretty much a disaster. Hopefully, these four can combine to give the team a chance to win every fifth day until either the rehabbing Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder) or Brandon McCarthy (elbow) can take over in (maybe) June.

Coleman has earned it.
(photo courtesy MLB)
Bullpen (7 spots)
Avilan may have pitched himself off roster.
(photo courtesy L.A. Times)
Closer Kenley Jansen, set-up man Chris Hatcher, and righty Joe Blanton are locks. Former Kansas City Royal, Louis Coleman, has been phenomenal this spring (9 innings, 11 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 runs, 3 hits allowed), cementing a spot. Lefty J.P. Howell hasn't looked great, but stands to make the club based on past performance and a hefty contract, while his shoe-in back-up, Luis Avilan, is now in a dogfight with Adam Libertore, who has pitched much better this spring. I am guessing Avilan will make the club with Libertore on speed-dial should Avilan continue his downward trajectory. The seventh reliever slot has Pedro Baez's name written all over it (he has had a very strong spring), especially since Yimi Garcia is experiencing some knee soreness. If Garcia's knee is ready for opening day, the Dodgers could opt to take him instead of Avilan or Libertore and go with just one left-hander to begin the season. 

Barnes could make a name for himself.
(photo courtesy MLB)
Infield (8 spots)
Super-sub, Kiki Hernandez.
(photo courtesy Cindy Murphy)
Here's where things start to get interesting due to injuries suffered by catcher Yasmani Grandal (sore forearm) and second baseman Howie Kendrick (tight calf), both of whom figure to start the season on the disabled list. Austin Barnes will land the back-up catching role, which is an exciting development because he is proving to be both solid defensively (good pitch-framer) and offensively (4 homers, 10 RBIs this spring, and surprisingly speedy); Barnes could potentially be the Dodgers' starting catcher someday if Grandal continues his injury-prone ways. Filling Kendrick's spot should be Charlie Culberson over Micah Johnson since Culberson can play second base and also spell rehabbing Corey Seager at shortstop and Justin Turner at third base. The other six slots are easy locks: A.J. Ellis at catcher, Adrian Gonzalez at first base, Chase Utley at second base/third base, Seager at shortstop, Turner at third base, and, of course, Mr. Everything (infield and outfield), Kiki Hernandez.

Clay Thompson can play
all 3 outfield spots.
(photo courtesy Cindy Murphy)
Outfield (5 spots)
Guerrero's place is the A.L.
(photo courtesy Cindy Murphy)
When spring training began the outfield looked even more crowded than last season. However, a spate of injuries simplified the decision-making process. Yasiel Puig, should his right hamstring hold out (he has sat out a couple of games with tightness), will man right field and Joc Pederson will handle center field with some occasional bench time against tough lefties. Left field was Andre Ethier's (finally!) until he fractured his right tibia. Now, a struggling Carl Crawford and the hot-hitting Scott Van Slyke (6 homers, 7 RBIs) will platoon in left. And it looks like prospect Trayce Thompson will now get his shot to make the team, filling in at all three outfield spots as needed. It will be fun to watch Thompson, as he is considered to be the top defensive outfielder in the Dodger organization; also, Thompson was the spring ironman with 61 at-bats, and though his batting average was low, he did have 2 home runs, 3 doubles, 1 triple, and 8 RBIs. Alex Guerrero's sprained knee helped create this opening (Guerrero's contract won't allow him to be returned to the minors), and I, for one, hope Thompson is able to take full advantage of this opportunity and give the Dodgers a reason to finally trade or cut Guerrero when he is healthy again. I feel badly that the guy got part of his ear chewed off in a dugout fight in his first year, but his terrible fielding make him an American Leaguer at best.

These are my picks for the 25-man roster. I better publish this piece ASAP before another Dodger pulls up lame and ruins my forecast.


  1. Hi Emily- pretty much agree with your choices, though Thompson may not make it in favor of carrying an extra pitcher. I do like Thompson, though, maybe time to tell Carl adios? We are definitely seeing the depth of the farm system shine through, players like Bellinger , Urias, DeLeon, and acquired youngsters like Thompson and Barnes. We got to see a lot of Bellinger last year with the R.C. Quakes, though I believe he will be onward and upward. Really like the kid, too.
    Let us know when you'll be in town and you can meet up with us for early b.p. Thanks for the photo publicity!!

    1. Yeah, I'd like to say goodbye to Crawford, but that will have to wait until Ethier returns. Hard to imagine Crawford lasting that long before pulling up with an injury! Your offer to come watch early b.p. is so sweet, and we definitely want to take you up on it sometime this summer! :)