Dodgers 25-Man Roster: Shortstop Shouldn’t Be Squad’s Biggest Concern

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(Mandatory Credit: Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Now that the month of May is upon us, it’s just a little more difficult to use the excuse that the season is still young, especially when noting the Dodgers are now a full eight games behind the division lead in the NL West.

Fan reactions from Corey Seager‘s unfortunate, season-ending elbow injury were all over the map yesterday. Some believe that the club has enough depth to overcome the setback, while others were ready to throw in the white towel immediately. At first glance, the squad itself appeared to be stuck in its normal slumber against the Diamondbacks on Monday night, but the team was able to battle back late to make things a little interesting. However, the lackluster bullpen once again proved to be ineffective when it needed several consecutive shutdown innings to stay in the game.

I happen to be on the side of the fence with those who believe that there’s definitely a shot  for the club capturing its sixth consecutive division title, but there’s unquestionably some transforming that needs to be done to make that happen.

Even if the main goal of the front office is to stay under the luxury tax threshold at all costs, it needs to make a few organizational moves to improve the quality of play.

From the offensive side of things, there are a number of options the club can take to potentially improve its offensive production. With Chris Taylor moving into shortstop, there shouldn’t be much lost on offense. Alongside the hot bat of Joc Pederson, outfielder Andrew Toles could also be a choice to boost the team in the coming weeks when his hamstring is back to full strength. Furthermore, Justin Turner‘s bat will rejoin the daily lineup at some point, while there’s always the hope that Logan Forsythe will rise up to his expectations when his shoulder is healthy enough. And there’s always the Yasiel Puig factor. So, there’s plenty of hope. One thing management may want to try to do, though, is to create a little continuity in the daily lineups instead of mathematically formulating the batting orders based on numbers and matchups alone.

Being that there are a handful of clubs that are ranked miles above Los Angeles offensively while having about half the Dodgers’ talent, there’s really no excuse for the club not to rise above its current rate of production.

Regardless of the offense, the pitching department (completely unrelated to the Seager injury, by the way) should be the biggest concern for the club right now. Both the starting rotation and the bullpen appear to need some resuscitation badly. I’m not exactly sure if there’s enough talent in the organization at the moment to improve things overnight, but at least the management team might try to make a better effort trying to piece together a product of higher quality.

Initially, it seemed as if righty Brock Stewart was brought in to start the opener at Arizona on Monday evening, yet the club decided to throw him on the carousel once again and bump him into the relief crew, electing to start righty swing man Ross Stripling instead. Strip ended up being pegged for four earned runs over four innings, while Stewart surrendered three hits, a walk and one earned run over 1-2/3 not-so-impressive innings. Daniel Hudson, he of the 14.38 ERA, was next in line, followed by Tony Cingrani, who may be still suffering the effects of a dead arm. I suppose fans should be grateful that Pedro Baez was not inserted to the game at any point, as it seems that he has now been regulated to Wilmer Font mop-up duty, at least until he can re-establish some kind of consistency.

I also believe that Walker Buehler should be called back to the roster to stay. I really don’t care how they make it happen, but there’s no question he has one of the best arms in the organization right now. In my eyes, it would certainly be worth the effort in moving Kenta Maeda back to the bullpen—a spot where he’s proven he can excel. Forget about the contract incentives—if the club really finds it necessary to give him the extra money, go ahead and restructure his contract next winter. Maeda in the relief corps would be a huge boost, if he would indeed embrace such a role.

All that being said, there are certainly a number of options available to improve, but management needs to execute several key decisions in the coming weeks. But even more importantly, all the players on the 25-man roster need to motivate themselves and start playing with a sense of urgency before it’s too late.

 

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5 thoughts on “Dodgers 25-Man Roster: Shortstop Shouldn’t Be Squad’s Biggest Concern

  1. I’m with you on all that with one small pushback – May is still plenty early. It’s my opinion for some teams, ours included, it’s still early until the trade deadline.

    This team should hit. Like you mentioned, getting everyone healthy will obviously help that. Pitching has a different look to me. But I thought the same thing last year and it worked out ok.

    Right now we look like the walking dead. Frankly it’s been unwatchable, but I expect it to improve. The dbacks discontinuing playing .700 ball would help.

    Time for some of that rabbit out of the ass FAZ Magic.

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  2. Yeah, they’re not gonna lose much offensive production from SS if Taylor continues to embrace that swing the coaching staff completely reworked prior to last season. Still, I’d rather see him moved back to CF late in games so that Hernandez can shore up the defense at SS. As far as the OF goes, Toles should be the primary LF the moment he’s back from AAA as well as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup (Kemp can platoon against lefties). If Pederson continues to give the club quality ABs like he’s been doing for the past week, might just keep himself out of trade talks for the time being and should get most of the playing time in CF (later moving over to LF late in games for defensive purposes). Verdugo should keep getting more run out in RF while Puig can recover physically AND mentally in the meantime. Could be another platoon situation forming there if Verdugo ends up swinging that bat like we all know he can (or one of them gets dealt to alleviate the blockage, I could care less at this point-lol). 3B should be a Farmer/Muncy platoon until Turner finally returns from rehab.

    2B is where I feel the REAL void is, however. As much as Utley’s done his best to turn back the clock of late, he’s still a reserve player at this point in his career. Might be a good time to see what this Valera guy can do over there. If he doesn’t pan out, time to give Tim Locastro or even this Jake Peter guy they acquired in that 3-team deal this past offseason which also netted them LH reliever Scott Alexander. Then again, there’s always that super-utility guy hanging around in Hernandez if the club has nowhere else to turn in that area…

    And yeah, the pitching staff is a mess right now (and I’m wondering if it still would’ve been even if they had decided to keep Morrow on instead of letting him sign with the Cubs this past winter; they’re not gonna miss Watson all that much, though). At this point, it would be absolutely foolish for the team to send Buehler back down. Let him stay up and help this team find its “mojo” again. Ryu’s the current ace of the staff this season and should be flipped with Kershaw in that rotation as a result. Wood and Maeda have been solid despite their W-L records, but I’m also wondering if they should just go ahead and move Maeda to the bullpen as a potential high-leverage arm. Have to admit, he showed the team something in that postseason last year when he was featured in relief. His stuff just looked electric in that role and seemed to have taken to it like he’s been doing it his entire career! Cingrani, Fields, and Alexander I’m not too worried about. They’re gonna level out and be fine. Stripling should stay in the pen as a long man and not a spot starter. Stewart could be a capable back-end starter if they would just give him a damn chance (at least until Urias finally returns from his year-long shoulder rehab. Piggy-back him with Hill if they want to keep both pitchers’ innings down like they did with Ryu and Maeda last season. And Baez should just…go. Can’t overhaul an arm like that if the mind is not willing to accept that it needs one (lol). Maybe they should look into bringing up that Santana kid to take his place when the time comes??? Just a suggestion…

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    1. Good thoughts Manuel.

      Maeda to the pen is logical from the team’s perspective but his contract is incentive laden and he and his agent won’t like the move. We need another stud starter and it’s anybody’s guess where that might come from. It would be nice if Urias walked back into the rotation mid summer. He and Buehler could be the answer.

      I still say this team will hit. Toles and Verdugo can both hack, but they, along with Pederson, are kinda the same guy. Frankly I’d like to see Taylor as a mid infielder on this team and a real centerfielder take over everyday. Verdugo? Maybe. He’s got what looks like great instincts and a go get it attitude out there. Don’t be alarmed by that play on Greinke’s fly ball yesterday. The lid at Chase was open, but the window panels were closed creating some bizarre upper wind currents. He would have run that ball down under normal circumstances.

      Too early to panic, but the right time to give opportunity to those who are earning it at AAA.

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  3. Anybody have defensive metrics available that would tell us who is considered the better center fielder between CT3 and Kike? Not enough data to grade Verdugo yet. I think Joc got high marks in 2016 and pretty bad marks last year. How do you lose a skill like that from one year to the next? Maybe his horrible hitting got into his head so badly that he took it to the outfield. Seems to be doing better this year (at least to the naked eye).
    Heard FZ interviewed today. They definitely aren’t going out of their way to say no chance for Machado. Maybe just to keep the fans hopeful before they reject a deal in July, or maybe they are really considering it. He did indicate that if they bring in someone from another organization, it would be someone good, not just a space filler.

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    1. You can go to the Advanced Fielding pages at Fangraphs.

      Neither are great centerfielders. Both are adequate. Personally I think Taylor has the speed and instincts, but he needs time. His defensive metrics in center are down so far this year. Hernandez plays a lot of positions well.

      Friedman will likely try to handle this in house. It’s still my opinion that the pitching needs more work than the offense. The offensive talent is there. I can’t comfortably say that about the pitching.

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