Dodgers 25-Man Roster: Putting Together a Functioning Outfield

The 2018 Cactus League schedule hasn’t even started yet and already I’ve changed my mind at least twice about which players will make up the Dodgers‘ 2018 Opening Day roster.

Admittedly, when the big trade with the Braves went down not long before Christmas, I was thinking to myself that there was no way Matt Kemp would make the Los Angeles 25-man roster. As a matter of fact, just a few days after the deal, I wrote a story about how Rob Segedin would make a better choice than Kemp. At the time, the general consensus was that Kemp would be immediately flipped to another club, even if the return was minimal for the Dodgers.

Yet, as the winter progressed, Kemp seemed to be settling in. Several of his teammates, most specifically Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner, were campaigning in some shape or form for him to stay. Kemp was working hard, as made evident by his weight loss and physical condition. For all intents and purposes, he was busting his tail to earn a spot on the team.

Defense aside, the guy can still hit. He tallied 19 long balls last year, despite an injury riddled campaign. And if we drift back to the 2016 season when he was healthy, the Oklahoma native blasted 39 doubles, 35 homers and 108 RBI. On top of that, he’s been notoriously successful against southpaw pitching throughout his career, having logged a lifetime .319/.380/.542 slash line. And, he still has somewhat of a decent arm, although it’s a far cry from the throwing ability he had several years back when he was right up there with some of the best guns in the game.

So if the Dodgers were going to pay him more than $20 million anyway, why not give him a chance? Besides, if he were able to produce, there are several other players in the picture who have options to create some space. In my mind, it made sense from a couple different perspectives.

Not long after players reported to Camelback for spring camp, my dangerous mind got to thinking again. I’m now thinking a Kemp inclusion would clearly disrupt the foundation of the squad which journeyed to Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a huge Kemp fan, and I also believe that team chemistry is one of those things which is built over the full course of a season. But the more I put together prospective lineups for the upcoming year, the more I’m convinced Kemp’s presence would throw the club’s functionality out of whack—and that’s not even taking into consideration is supposed attitude adjustment.

The biggest reason for this is the prospective lineups against left-handed pitching. The important thing to remember is that the Dodgers will be facing a southpaw starter about 33% of the time, as righty starters in the MLB roughly outnumber lefties at a two to one ratio. So with an opposing lefty on the bump, we presumably have Chris Taylor in center field—because Logan Forsythe is absolutely going to be in the lineup, being the southpaw killer he is. And despite his reverse-split tendencies last season, Yasiel Puig will start most of the time in right. This scenario still allows room for Kemp in left field, however, we need to make room for Enrique Hernandez.

According to some, Kemp is still a better offensive option than Hernandez, but if Kiké is going to be on the roster—and he will—he’s going to be in the lineup against a lefty starter. Sure, he could conceivably spell Corey Seager at short, but the times that Seager warrants a rest will be few and far between. The same can be said with Turner at third base, despite his own apparent reverse splits. Therefore, the most logical starting spot for Hernadez is left field. And there’s no way a roster spot battle comes down to Hernandez vs. Kemp—Hernandez is just too versatile in terms of positioning, plus he has a much better glove.

Furthermore, it would be almost impossible to carry both players, especially when considering Chase Utley‘s apparent limitations. Couple that with the probability that the club goes with an eight-man bullpen to begin the year, and the logical reasoning for keeping Kemp just isn’t there. And to have him solely as a right-handed bat of the bench doesn’t make sense at all.

Moreover, against righty pitching, there still isn’t much space for Kemp, mainly because one of Joc Pederson or Andrew Toles will be seeing the lion’s share of time in left field, so long as they are healthy and producing. And with Utley being around to spell Forsythe at second, Taylor stays put in center while Puig stays in right, as both have the ability to impressively handle right-handed pitching.

All that said, I’m going to set my preferred outfield with Puig, Taylor and Pederson as the primary contributors, in addition to having Hernandez in there as the specialist against lefty pitching and Tolesy filling the secondary role of providing cover in all three spots. If Toles is indeed ready to go, by no means does it make sense to carry Kemp over him, even if Toles has options on his contract. Toles can cover all three spots, he has a better arm, he’s quicker, has superior range, and may not be far behind Kemp’s ability to produce at the dish.

For what it’s worth, that’s the way I see it—at least until I change my mind again next week.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

Advertisements

Breaking Down Two Recent Free-Agent Deals and How They Affect the Dodgers

martinez
(Mandatory Credit: John Minchillo/Associated Press)

The Dodgers have been quiet. Not too quiet, just quiet. They haven’t signed a big name free agent. They haven’t traded for the face of a franchise. They haven’t done much, but did they really need to?

Continue reading “Breaking Down Two Recent Free-Agent Deals and How They Affect the Dodgers”

How the Cubs Signing Yu Darvish Affects the Dodgers

darvish(3)

All offseason, we have heard rumors upon rumors about the top two free agent starters; Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta.  One of those starters, Arrieta, is still unsigned with spring training now officially underway. The other, Darvish, is headed to Arrieta’s former team, the Chicago Cubs.

Continue reading “How the Cubs Signing Yu Darvish Affects the Dodgers”

5 Things to Look for at Dodgers Spring Training

img_1893

After one of the saddest and longest winters ever for Dodgers fans, the end is finally here. Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow to Camelback Ranch. Although many of us are still hungover from what might have been, most of us can’t help but get excited about what might be waiting for us during the upcoming season.

Continue reading “5 Things to Look for at Dodgers Spring Training”

6 Dodgers Predictions Sure to Come True in 2018

img_1860

We’ve finally made it to the last weekend without baseball. Pitchers and catchers begin reporting to their respective compounds early next week to start preparations for the upcoming season. We thought it would be fun to look at a few somewhat crazy, but still plausible things that could happen with the Dodgers this season.

Continue reading “6 Dodgers Predictions Sure to Come True in 2018”

Will There Be a Sophomore Slump for Cody Bellinger?

img_1804
(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

It was a magical first season for the first baseman of the Dodgers. Cody Bellinger originally was planning on spending most of the year in at Triple-A Oklahoma City and joining the big club with the rest of the September call-ups. But as we know, life doesn’t always go according to plan.

Continue reading “Will There Be a Sophomore Slump for Cody Bellinger?”

Are Rival Clubs Outmaneuvering the Dodgers this Winter?

img_1372-1

Just more of the same in the land of the Dodgers‘ offseason, quiet and seemingly content to sit back and watch it all go by. While fans may internally understand this, sometimes it’s hard to watch other teams make big splashes, as the Milwaukee Brewers did on Thursday.

Continue reading “Are Rival Clubs Outmaneuvering the Dodgers this Winter?”

Dodgers 2018 Bullpen: Exploring Several Potential Eighth-Inning Relief Options

Josh-Fields
(Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)

Many media outlets who cover the Dodgers have been spending quite a bit of time this winter discussing the components of the prospective 2018 bullpen, and we are no exception. For the most part, the group who will make up this season’s relief corp is defined, but which roles each pitcher will ultimately assume—sans Kenley Jansen—may take some time to develop. Last season, after a few years of searching, the club’s quest to find a quality eighth-inning arm was finally fulfilled when righty Brandon Morrow eventually settled into the part; however, that exact pursuit will begin anew when players begin reporting to spring training next month.

Continue reading “Dodgers 2018 Bullpen: Exploring Several Potential Eighth-Inning Relief Options”

Do Dodgers Really Need to Do Anything Else this Winter?

friedman
(Photo by Stephen Carr, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

Theoretically, no. The Dodgers, the same team who almost won the World Series, are in fantastic shape. Looking solely at the Los Angeles roster, they don’t need to make any more additions. They have a great bullpen, a strong rotation, and a lineup capable of mass-producing runs. If this were last season, the Dodgers would have already won the West.

Continue reading “Do Dodgers Really Need to Do Anything Else this Winter?”

Dodgers Starting Rotation: More Thoughts About Potential Additions

img_1693
(Getty Images)

Back before Christmas, we talked about how the Dodgers could do with another starter or two, and how maybe Yu Darvish or Chris Archer would be a good fit. A month later, not much has changed.

Continue reading “Dodgers Starting Rotation: More Thoughts About Potential Additions”