Roster Decisions Loom For Dodgers

Joc Pederson

The 2016 regular season opens on Monday for the Dodgers in San Diego. The Dodgers have to set their roster by Sunday and they have some tough roster decisions looming. The club has just three exhibition games remaining against the Angels before the real games start.

The Dodgers have had a lousy spring training. Well it hasn’t been that bad. Most of the guys are starting to get healthy. The club has been besieged by injuries all over their roster. The Dodgers might be forced to start the regular season without their starting left fielder, shortstop, backup shortstop, second baseman, catcher, fifth starter, and one of their middle relievers.

Fortunately for the Dodgers it appears that wonder kid Corey Seager will be ready to start the season on time. He’s probably the most important player on the roster besides Clayton Kershaw. At least the Dodgers can breathe a little sign of relief.

Starting catcher Yasmani Grandal’s forearm seems to be on the mend as well. He’ll apparently play in some minor league games this weekend and join the club in Anaheim for the final game of the Freeway Series. He’ll probably be able to open the season for the Dodgers behind the plate.

The outlook is not so good for second baseman Howie Kendrick, and Alex Guerrero. Kendrick is still battling a sore calf muscle and will reportedly stay behind in Arizona to continue his rehab. He’s behind and hasn’t had enough at-bats or time to heal properly. He’s likely to open the season on the disabled list.

As will Guerrero, who has a sore knee. He’ll stay behind in Glendale as well. Guerrero’s timeline is actually good news for the Dodgers, because it buys them some time to figure out what to do with him. Guerrero doesn’t have a set position on the roster, and is considered a weak defender. I was thinking the Dodgers would probably do the old Joe Torre/Don Mattingly phantom injury roster machination to keep from having to release him. Well, they don’t to because Guerrero has an honest to goodness actual injury by golly.

So with Kendrick and Guerrero down, you would think the starting second baseman position would go to backup extraordinaire and banana man Kike Hernandez. However Hernandez is hurt himself. He’s been battling a hip injury. Veteran Chase Utley could get the nod, and another roster spot could open up for guys like Charlie Culberson, (who is a terrific defensive player but can’t hit a lick), or Rob Segedin. Both players have had impressive springs. Segedin especially, who looks to be an all-around solid player.

Hernandez is reportedly getting better and should be ready to go by Monday. My guess is Utley and Hernandez will share the time at second base until Kendrick returns in a couple of weeks. Ironic since that what was supposed to happen when we thought the Dodgers weren’t going to resign Kendrick. Culberson and Segedin will likely be cut after the Freeway series. Although I have a feeling one of those guys will make the roster. Austin Barnes is also a possibility.

As for the pitching staff, well there aren’t a lot of options for the fifth starter. The top four seem to be set in stone. Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda, and Alex Wood will take the mound in the 1-4 positions. I have been particularly unimpressed with Wood this spring. I’ll give him a chance before I start ripping him a new one over here. However he’s looked bad this year and it’s going to take a lot for him to avoid my wrath on this blog if he continues to suck in the regular season as much as he did in the exhibition season.

The fifth starter spot will likely go to Carlos Frias. Unfortunately Mike Bolsinger is not going to be ready, and the kids were all sent down to continue their development. There’s nobody else, unless you want to see Ian Thomas, and let’s be honest here, nobody does. Or you want to watch Brandon Beachy‘s arm melt. No thanks. Frias is the best option here.

The bullpen will be primarily set. As long as Yimi Garcia’s knee feels good. Chris Hatcher will help Garcia to provide set-up duties for closer Kenley Jansen. J.P. Howell and Luis Avilan will be the lefties after Adam Liberatore got optioned the other day.

Here’s my opening day roster:

Pitching staff

Starting rotation

Clayton Kershaw LHP

Scott Kazmir LHP

Kenta Maeda RHP

Alex Wood LHP

Carlos Frias RHP

Bullpen

Kenley Jansen CL

Chris Hatcher RHP

Yimi Garcia RHP

Luis Avilan LHP

Pedro Baez RHP

J.P. Howell LHP

Joe Blanton RHP

 

Staring lineup:

Enrique Hernandez 2B

Yasiel Puig RF

Adrian Gonzalez 1B

Justin Turner 3B

Corey Seager SS

Yasmani Grandal C

Carl Crawford LF

Joc Pederson CF

 

Bench

A.J. Ellis C-R

Scott Van Slyke OF-R

Chase Utley IF-L

Charlie Culberson IF/OF-R

Trayce Thompson

Disabled list -Howie Kendrick, Hyun-jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Mike Bolsinger, Alex Guerrero, Andre Ethier

I’ll guess that Culberson and Thompson both make the roster. The Dodgers will need a fifth outfielder, and another guy who can cover shortstop. Culberson has had a great spring. This will be a tough decision between Culberson and Segedin. However Culberson is such a great fielder, it would be hard for the Dodgers to say no. Even though Culberson isn’t much of a hitter, I can live with it for a couple of weeks. Culberson is not on the 40-man roster, so that would require a move to clear space. That’s easy enough to do. You just say goodbye someone like a Ralston Cash, or Jeremy Kehrt. There are quite a few guys wasting space.

The clock is ticking for the Dodgers and the season begins on Monday.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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69 thoughts on “Roster Decisions Loom For Dodgers

  1. I will guess that since Kike’ has some aches and pains and has been concentrating at short he will not be the guy that platoons with Utley to start the season and instead it will be Barnes. Barnes can also help ease Grandal back into the lineup to start the season.

    And since Kike’ has concentrated on the left side of the infield he would be a good backup for Turner at third. I would rather add an additional reliever to take Guerrero’s spot on the 25 than put Culbertson on the 25.

    I think Lee will get the 5th spot in the rotation and not Frias.

  2. I can’t remember who suggested that Bauer could be a pitcher the Dodgers might trade for but maybe he more available than might be thought.

    The Cleveland Indians made a shocking move on Wednesday, as they decided to move Trevor Bauer to the bullpen to start the season.

    This spring, Trevor Bauer has been pitching very well for the Indians, as he has totaled a 2.25 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 20 innings of work. Despite the good spring, the Indians have decided that they will be going with Josh Tomlin and Cody Anderson in the rotation to start the season.

    1. Bums when I heard about him being put into the bullpen, I thought about you. I started to read about that pitching place in Washinton, and I think I read that Bauer was one of the hardest throwers there. I started reading, and it got deeper, then I wanted to read, so I kind of just glossed over it. And then later, in the news, they said that that was the Dodger’s pitching place. It was all about pitching speed, and finding out, what it takes, to gain speed. It was a excerpt of a book that was released.

      1. He is a UCLA guy and pitched something like 186 innings last year. Maybe Cleveland would rather have Blanton in their bullpen or maybe Blanton and Avilan.

        1. Emerson I read it on Yahoo! And it was in there top 60 articles. The ones, that you swipe through, toward the top of Yahoo!

  3. I have no idea who the final spots will go to or who, other than the obvious will be in the starting lineup.

    Nobody leads off
    Second base
    Turner
    AGon
    Puig
    Seager
    Pederson or somebody else
    Grandal
    Kershaw

    We still have 3 ridiculous games left and hopefully nobody gets hurt and everybody else gets healthy.

    May the baseball gods show mercy.

    The good news is we are starting the season against the Padres. They’re no good. Right? Somebody tell me we can win 2 of 3 there.

  4. You left Coleman out and maybe that has to be because of Blanton’s contract. I did not like Blanton signing from the beginning and still do not. I think Barnes should be on the team before Culverson.

    Frias just cannot spot his fastball. Pretty soon his fast ball is in the middle of the plate and it gets hammered. We have two starters and that is it. It would not take me long to bring up DeLeon and Urias. I would give Kasmir, Wood, and Frias three starts and if they do not perform, DeLeon and Urias would be up.

    It would not take me long to trade Puig either. If he has not changed, we will know in the first month. He has had enough opportunities to get it right.

    I am happy with Thompson. He looks like a player.

    1. Al, I have proposed trading Frank Howard for Claude Osteen many times and most of the time the response is that it might be Clemente that I would be trading and not Howard.

      I would put Coleman on the team instead of Avilan. Avilan still has option(s).

    2. I think Coleman makes it instead of Avilan. Avilan has options left.

      We could use that quantity for quality trade right about now.

  5. Heard somewhere that Wood was regaining the velocity on his fastball. I really couldn’t confirm that until now. He was batted around this Spring, but the fundamentals are good. Instead of looking bad, the actual analysis of his pitching say otherwise, and if he can get the velocity and movement he had in 14, he’s poised for possibly big year.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/welcome-back-alex-wood/

    Utley might not be completely done. He was over a 4 WAR player as recently as 14, and when he was healthy last year – and he wasn’t for a big stretch of it – he did pretty well. I have no problem with him taking over at second until Kendrick feels better.

    1. Dodgerpatch I think you are right about Utley. Mattingly didn’t use Utley, in the right way, and that is why Utley didn’t look so good, last year. And if you think about it, Utley moves much better, then Howie, on the bases, and sometimes, Utley seems younger, then Howie, with the way he plays.

  6. Seager is the most important player after Kershaw? That’s a bold statement!
    If a kid with one month of MLB experience is more important than everyone else (other than Kershaw) then what does that say about everyone else? Yikes!

    1. Seager is the upside, the ceiling if you will, and Kershaw is the downside protection. Everyone else, with their ups and downs, will keep us in contention, whatever that means.

  7. If only we could find some hyper-intelligent GM who was willing to trade quality pitching for “depth.” We could always use another suit in the front office.

  8. So after a full month of Spring Training — the Dodgers go limping into the start of the season.

    1. This roster might do better than last year’s group, in the end. If things go the right way.

    2. With another injury or two, this team could blow up.

    For me, a lot of the wins and loses come down to the pitching match ups. Then the bullpen. Face it, there are only so many games that a team can have over the season where they win in the bottom on the 9th or extra innings. Those wins are extra. The key is to win with solid starting pitching, defense, and bullpen.

    Add to that a batting order that works. Players that do the fundamentals, and give their all.

    So it is time to get going and make 2016 a real solid season.

    1. This looks like a team that better excel at fundamentals. We just can’t afford to give runs away on defense and throw them away on offense. After watching the games available, and seeing them practice with my own eyes, I’m not overflowing with confidence. I take solace in knowing it’s a long season. Maybe we get healthy and everybody over performs. Maybe Shark, Buttgrabber and Cueto all have off years. Maybe the desert doesn’t suit Grenke. Maybe the Dbacks won’t hit as well as they did last year and again this Spring. Maybe the Cubs and maybe the Mets and maybe the Cards and maybe the Nats and maybe the Pirates and maybe the May Be’s.

      Please don’t anybody get injured in this meaningless Freeway Series.

      1. Badger I must admit, that I am afraid about the Dodger’s schedule, in the first two weeks, because they have to face the Giants twice, and play the Dbacks, in between the Giants.

        And it always seems like, the Giants always start the season strong, and swoon in June. And we can’t forget about the Padres, because everyone always, wants to beat the Dodgers badly.

        I guess I feel this way, because the way that spring has went, in the second half, and because we have not seen Kazmir, pitch that much.They have kept him away, it almost seems, like on the back fields, even though that is not quite true.

        And I am also afraid, because of injuries, the Dodgers have not played together much, and Grandal and Cory, have not played much, or at all, the second part of spring training.

        These first two weeks, could put the Dodgers behind quickly, if they don’t play there hearts out. I think it is just part of being a Dodger fan, to worry, because they almost always, don’t get things down, easily.

        I just hope the Dodgers get through these first two weeks, with a record, that keeps them close, and continues to do this, until Ryu comes back.

  9. In the last thread, Truth predicted a record of 79-83. I think we should all make our predictions and then laugh at ourselves in October after we’ve gone 103-59 (and lose playoffs game 1 at home after Kersh gives up 5 runs in 6ip)

    I’ll wait until Sunday evening or Monday morning to make mine,

    1. Bobby I like your idea and I’ve seen enough to predict an 81-81 season.

      I hope I’m wrong, but from what I’ve seen of ST, I’m afraid the optimism placed in Joc & Puig rebounding is misplaced.

      To have so many injuries prior to the season starting is a big concern, especially to the starting pitchers.

      The form of any starting pitcher not named Clayton – especially Kazmir & Wood (Maeda has started well but early days).

      Kendrick, Kiki, Grandal, Agon, Seagar, Puig, Turner & Ethier all injured or recovering from injury.

      The Bullpen is almost picking itself on who sucks the least.
      Kenley, Coleman & Hatcher are the only locks for me.

      A rookie manager?

      Like I said, I hope I’m wrong but I have a feeling it’s gonna be a long season.

      1. I think the manager will be ok, as in better than before, but is that really ok – ok? I need another beer.

        The actual team itself? Just like a pitcher’s arm, one seeming un-critical injury puts pressure on other parts of the arm, and eventually via compensating for the non-critical injury you have a shoulder or ACL injury. Same with a team. Compensating with depth may lead to breakdowns at the positions where you perhaps didn’t need depth, or so you thought. Just putting words to old school feelings here.

        And where is my beer?

  10. I think Barnes, and the other two spring invites, are getting to play against the Angels, at the stadium, to reward them for a good spring. And I would say Barnes gets to stay on the roster, for a week, but I just don’t see that, because we have both AJ, and Grandal, able to catch.

    And we don’t need a backup second base man, so I think they may carry an extra pitcher, on the roster, until Howie comes back. We need all of these prospects, that are close, to be playing full time in AAA, not sitting on the major league bench, so they will be ready to fill in, if needed.

    And anyone playing in AAA, or just a phone call, and a plane ride away. With this front office, AAA, is really there bench, because they use the whole forty man, I will say roster, but I think it is called something else, so someone help me, with the right word.

    Anyways, the guys playing in AAA, will all be playing hard, because they know that this front office, won’t hesitate, to bring someone up, to help the big team.

  11. Never cared about prestige, so I’m wondering if it doesn’t make a lot more sense to pitch Kazmir, Woods, and Frias in San Diego, then Clayton, Maeda and Kazmir against the Giants. They want to take advantage of matchups….

  12. Coleman will make the team – absolutely!

    Avilan won’t make the team!

    Grandal will not start opening day. Doc has already said AJ will start with Clayton.

    I would not be surprised to see Doc put Maeda in the #2 rotation spot.

    The #5 spot is yet to be decided. That will happen this weekend.

    Look for Avilan, Barnes and Frias to go to the Indians for Bauer.

    I have the Dodgers with 93 wins. Less, if things don’t go right. More if they do.

    There are a few injuries, but to think any are fatal to the team’s chances is to confuse a hangnail with cancer…

    1. Would love to see Dodgers get Bauer. Hard throwing, innings eater, former #3 pick, just entering his prime, but, I would sure like to replace Barnes with Guerrero or Crawford/Cash in your proposed trade.

      In my opinion Barnes is too valuable, a couple catcher injuries, and no Barnes, could derail the whole season.

        1. It might have been Bumsrap, I had just read that Cleveland was open to trading him. Cleveland needs an outfielder and Bauer is young, cost effective and seems like he might have some upside, plus he is a Valencia boy. Avilan, Frias and Guerrero for Bauer would be awesome. Do it FAZ!

    2. I expect 88 – 90 wins and a race for the division.

      I expect Kendrick to start the season on the DL – not sure about Grandal. I also expect Guerrero to start on the DL. If Grandal starts on DL then Barnes makes the team – otherwise no. I expect them to keep Culberson and Thompson with the team – maybe Barnes instead of Thompson.

      Avilan shouldn’t make the team – he has options. They keep Baez and Coleman. Yimi may not be healthy but if he is he makes the team. If not, maybe they keep Libertore instead of Avilan.

      Frias is 5th starter but has a short leash. Maybe he shifts to the pen after a start or two and they try Lee or Stripling.

  13. I agree with the comment that the second most important player on the team is not Seager. He could still be a bust. I’m thinking if he eventually turns out to be as good as his brother, that will be ok. Of course, he has to stay on the field. I hope he isn’t another of our Accident Prones. I can’t see how this team can beat the giants, who got through the spring healthy and raring to go. We need phenomenal years from Turner, Agon and 66 and decent years from every other position player. Turner could be the star this year, but he can’t do it alone. I’ll give Maeda and Kazmir the benefit of the doubt at this point, but the other pitchers don’t get that benefit because they have done nothing to earn it. I can’t remember such a fragile bunch, and the reserves are reserves for a reason. “The Fragile Bunch,” my new nickname for these guys. What a pathetic group this spring.

    1. B17,

      I think your reality and actual reality are divergent! You said: I can’t see how this team can beat the giants, who got through the spring healthy and raring to go.

      That evidently is your reality. Actual reality is that the Dodgers are 13-14 this Spring while the Giants are 11-19. Actual reality is that the Dodgers have posted a 4.70 team ERA, while the Giants have posted a 6.87 team ERA.

      Their ACE has a 11.12 Spring ERA.

      Their #2 (Cueto) has a 9.58 ERA

      Their #3 (Samardzjia) has a 7.20 ERA

      Their #4 (Peavy) has a 7.43 ERA

      Their #5 has a lofty 6.38 ERA.

      Their hitters are healthy and they better be because they have no depth, but their pitching is a trainwreck! The Giants beat writer says that Angel Pagan is the key to their season? Angel “Freaking” Pagan! The Dude will be 35 this year and he’s the key? He appeared in 71 games in 2013, 96 in 2014 and 133 last year, when he frequently played through knee pain.

      Now, I don’t put a lot of stock in spring stats, so there is that, but how can you say they are raring to go? The the Dodgers must be ready to blast off. The facts don’t support your narrative.

      1. Spring stats mean little when it comes to veterans.

        I have the dbacks, midgets, and Dodgers all over .500. How much over for each team is the question.

  14. Every time I hear of a jumper off the Golden Gate Bridge, I wonder if it’s B17

    MJ, yes, Pablo Fatovol looks even fatter this spring. He looks like a Dominican version of Gov Chris Christie

    1. Bobby I couldn’t believe that the Panda, went to play in Boston, after the Giants matched the Red Sox offer. How could he not see, that the Red Sox fans, would tear him apart, if he didn’t play up, to his salary. And really, how could the Red Sox sign the Panda, who’s regular season stats, are just average. He only really looked that good, in the post season.

  15. Scott good article, and keep up the good work. And continue to write what your conscience tells you to write.

    Dodger fans, need another blog, that does ask the right questions, and doesn’t always, stick to the same script, that a lot of the other Dodger blogs, stick to.

  16. I’ll take a stab at opening day roster

    Starters (8)
    CC
    Utley
    Turner
    AGon
    Puig
    Seager
    Pederson
    Ellis
    Kershaw

    SP(5)
    Kershaw
    Maeda
    Kazmir
    Wood
    Frias

    RP (7)
    Jansen
    Harper
    Howell
    Coleman
    Blanton
    Baez
    Garcia

    Bench (5)
    SVS
    Hernandez
    Barnes
    Culberson
    Thompson

    15 day DL
    Grandal
    Guerrero
    Kendrick

    Other relievers optioned–can’t see Avilan making opening roster after Roberts quote that he lacks confidence. Needs to go to AAA to get that back. Very RH heavy.

    Frias may only get one start based on how he does. Can skip 5th starter next couple times if needed. Then Lee or stripling for 3 starts

  17. So far it looks like I am the only one that has Crawford on the bench or off the team on opening day.

    I am going to do a Mark here. SVS will be the opening day left fielder and anybody that doesn’t agree has not been paying attention.

    Ryu now not coming back before June. He will have been out for a year and a half. That’s a long time. Hopefully if he comes back he will be at 100% and good through the playoffs.

    Doesn’t Cleveland need outfielders? Brantley not ready yet. He is their LF. Maybe Crawford with the Dodgers paying 100% of his salary plus Avilan and Blanton could get him. Not that Cleveland would want those three players, its just that I don’t either.

    1. I am fine with SVS in LF, but Doc will start Crawfish since a RH is pitching. I’ve been paying attention. 😉

  18. Freidman was quoted as saying he received quite a few phone calls from ambulance chasing GMs after Anderson was out, and again after Bolsinger was out, and again after Kendrick was injured.

  19. Kudos to the person who said to drop the concept of a 25 man roster. It’s only 25 for the game that day. It’s really a 40 man roster with AAA as the bench.
    With that said I would stick with Van Slyke in LF.

  20. Carl Crawford has ZERO value. You could trade him for absolutely nothing if you paid his salary. There is merit to the idea of DFAing him. Someone will likely pick him up, but who cares. I think it’s time to move on.

    I am OK with an outfield of Puig, Pederson, Van Slyke and Thompson. I’d put Micah in LF at AAA and call him up later.

    Here’s my 25:

    Catchers
    1. Grandal
    2. Ellis

    Infielders
    3. Gonzo
    4. Utley
    5. Seager
    6. Turner
    7. Culberson
    8. Hernandez
    9. Barnes

    Outfielders
    10. Van Slyke
    11. Thompson
    12. Pederson
    13. Puig

    Bullpen
    14. Jansen
    15. Garcia
    16. Baez
    17. Coleman
    18. Howell
    19. Blanton
    20. Hatcher

    Rotation
    21. Kershaw
    22. Maeda
    23. Kazmir
    24. Wood
    25. Stripling

    1. I think Crawford still has mlb game. I am just tired of the crowd in the outfield and his propensity to get hurt. I, contrary to most others, think there are other teams that would like to have Crawford but not his injuries. They don’t want to pay for the guy. And, the Dodgers haven’t had anybody better as a replacement, until maybe now with SVS and Thompson.

      Maybe there are enough injuries to keep him on the team which is ironic because otherwise I think he wouldn’t make the team.

  21. Mountain: I’m just reporting what the local media is quoting from the best manager of all time, bruce boche. ? The giants are still fairly young, so I don’t think depth is as much an issue as it is with us. When Heston is reserved for the bullpen, that tells me that the starting pitching is deep enough. Let’s tee it up and see.

  22. Not sure how you cut somebody owed $43 million.

    Heaney vs. Kazmir. The Might Have Been versus The Might Be. Classic matchup. Classic not in that the moment will live forever, heck I’ll forget it by the time my head hits my pillow tonight, but classic in that it is both representative and generational.

  23. So I am looking at the lineup tonight — and I thought we got rid of the G.M. who signed and traded for older players —

    Then I see – Turner followed by Gonzalez followed by Van Slyke followed by Utley followed by Ellis.

    Five slow older players.

    1. Not a lot of speed on the field tonight. Pujols with a 370′ single.

      Where’s Trout?

      Kazmir looks good. Right on 15 pitches per inning until the rook got casual with an easy pop up.

  24. “There’s nobody else, unless you want to see Ian Thomas, and let’s be honest here, nobody does. ”

    Well there’s Stripling.

    Also you forgot Coleman in the BP. He’s going to make the team almost certainly. He’s out of options so he is either released or on the ML roster. And he’s looked really good this spring.

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