Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti appeared on AM 570’s Dodger Talk on Wednesday night to talk about the team and his approach to putting together the roster for the soon approaching season. Most of the starting positions are in place but there are questions in a couple areas. The burning questions remain on who the fifth starter is going to be at the start of the season, and what the bench is going to look like.
“The bench is something we need to add to. We need to get an infielder in camp that can play first and third,” said Colletti specifically mentioning Michael Young and what he did for the team at the end of 2013.
At a charity event last week, Young talked about playing for the Dodgers as his only choice outside of retirement. There seems to be some type of thought that Young would play some second base also. A position at which he has only started 29 games since 2003.
“We’ve been patient with him and we would like to have him back,” said Colletti addressing Young’s decision.
It seems more logical for Young to fit the description of what Colletti is saying the team needs in camp as a first and third combo. Not only does Young re-signing with the Dodgers sound possible, it’s not a matter of if, but when.
There are worse hitters to give a bench role to then Young who is a career .300 hitter.
Dee Gordon might be back in Triple-A to start 2014 due to the fact that he has been so inconsistent on the major league level. Gordon did, however, hit .348 in 46 at-bats in the Dominican Republic for winter ball on the heels of the 2013 season that saw him hit .297 with 49 stolen bases at Triple-A Albuquerque.
The problem with Gordon as a bench player is that while he may have a better glove than Alexander Guerrero and a better bat than Miguel Rojas (another candidate for the job), he hasn’t proven that he can hit major league pitching consistently. Colletti talked about Guerrero and Rojas as well on Wednesday.
In regards to Guerrero, Colletti is still unsure if he will be the everyday second baseman to start the season. “We really need to see him play more, he needs to play more, couple hamstring injuries in winter ball…I think he’s going to be an offensive player. I think he’s going to be a run-producer.”
The opposite is true for Rojas who has a career .234 average in eight minor league seasons. The fact that he can’t hit doesn’t worry the Dodgers. “When you see this kid’s hands you’ll know why everybody is high on him,” said Colletti.
In the last month whenever the name Rojas comes up, Colletti has become more convincing that Rojas has a shot of breaking camp with the team. The Dodgers GM even went so far as to bring up a hypothetical of such an event.
“If I’m going to use somebody in a defensive spot, we should have enough offense to cover it. Sometimes defense gets overlooked.”
There is a long way to go before the decisions are made but at the moment it doesn’t seem to be out of the question that Rojas would be on the active roster on opening day.
When Young re-signs, he will be joined by some combination of a list of names on the bench that includes Scott Van Slyke, Mike Baxter, Rojas, Gordon, possibly the recently signed Chone Figgins, and the fourth outfielder. Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier would be the odd man out (depending on the day) if Matt Kemp is healthy.
With regards to the fifth spot in the rotation, the Dodgers are in the hunt for another arm and don’t sound terribly confident they believe Josh Beckett will be ready for the start of the season. Stephen Fife is on alert to step into that position.
At this point the Dodgers name has been thrown in the mix for a couple free agents but its most likely those who represent the players trying to raise the price of the offer from other clubs.
A couple of those players have a loss of a draft pick attached to signing them. Colletti said the Dodgers aren’t trying to sign a guy for long-term deals and would more likely sign a guy on a one-year deal or one year with an option.
“We would give up a draft pick but it’s going to be a guy that we think we’re going to want around for three or four years.”
Now that Masahiro Tanaka has signed elsewhere, Bronson Arroyo could sign in the next week and who could blame him. The Dodgers are poised for a deep run to the playoffs in 2014 and having somebody at the back end of a rotation that is capable of 200 innings is certainly appealing, especially on a one-year deal.
It makes sense to look in the short term since pitchers like Zach Lee and Ross Stripling are on the way to join a rotation that has three young guys at the top already in Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu.
Colletti described Lee’s path to the majors as “more of a process” and there is still more time to develop him in Triple-A. In the same breath, Colletti said Stripling is “somebody that we may see sooner than later in the big leagues.”
The underlying point for the Dodgers front office is that those two young guys are not going to start the year with the team. They felt like they brought Matt Magill up too early and he got knocked around some and they don’t want to have a repeat with either Lee or Stripling.
An interesting player to watch in spring training will be Seth Rosin who was taken in the rule 5 draft in December. Rosin throws in the mid-90’s and has struck out more than three batters for every walk issued in four seasons in the minors.
The Dodgers are intrigued by the fact that Rosin has started nearly 40 percent of the games he has appeared in. It might even come down to Rosin starting the year in the pen as a guy who can spot start.