Opening Day for the Dodgers is Monday, and since Spring Training feels like it has taken forever, it’s about damn time. Given the closeness of the start of the season though, it’s a bit odd that there are so many question marks as to what will happen with the roster.
Every team has to deal with decisions on the 24th and 25th man, but it’s rare that a team with World Series hopes is still deciding on the rotation and the left side of the starting infield. Since the team’s starting SS is out for two months and there’s a surplus with eight starting pitchers, it’s anybody’s guess as to how it all shakes out.
Personally though, I have to figure the Opening Day 25-man roster looks something like what you see below.
C – A.J. Ellis
1B – Adrian Gonzalez
2B – Mark Ellis
3B – Jerry Hairston Jr.
SS – Luis Cruz
LF – Carl Crawford
CF – Matt Kemp
RF – Andre Ethier
SS – Luis Cruz is a relatively easy choice for me at this spot. He plays solid defense at the position and is the best option available at the moment.
Yes, I’ve read the recent chatter about Justin Sellers getting this spot, which I suppose is possible. However, realistically I can only see that happening if they release Juan Uribe, or they trade both Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano AND go with 11 pitchers, or they roll with no real backup outfielder (Jerry Hairston Jr./Skip Schumaker).
My experience with Ned Colletti and Dodgers roster decision-making has led me to always go with the player who has experience, who is being paid by the team, and who is currently on the 40-man roster. Thus, no Sellers for me.
3B – Jerry Hairston Jr. and Skip Schumaker should platoon here. Hairston doesn’t actually have much of a split (.712 LHP/.694 RHP), but Schumaker does (.762 RHP/.521 LHP). If Don Mattingly plays his cards right here, there an off-chance the Dodgers don’t actually lose much except upside for the two months Hanley’s out, primarily because he plays terrible defense.
The alternative of Sellers’ .607 career MLB OPS, or his ~.700 career MILB OPS outside of the moon base in Albuquerque, is not appealing at all in lieu of an option like this. That logic HAS to win out, right? RIGHT?!
LF – Carl Crawford certainly looks on pace even though his already weak throwing arm looks pathetic right now. Still, he’s swinging a bat and nothing is wrong with his legs, so I can’t see him starting the year on the DL.
B – Tim Federowicz
B – Nick Punto
B – Skip Schumaker
B – Juan Uribe
B – Alex Castellanos
DL – Hanley Ramirez
IF Bench – The trio of Nick Punto, Schumaker, and Uribe meet Colletti’s three standards, as reviewed above, so they’re basically locks to me. Tim Federowicz makes the team because they cut every other catcher in camp except Matt Wallach, and he’s not making the roster.
OF Bench – Why Alex Castellanos, right? Why over Elian Herrera and Alfredo Amezaga? Amezaga is simple, as he’s not on the 40-man. Herrera, who I don’t think is a quality player anyway, doesn’t provide the potential pop off the bench the Dodgers SORELY lack at the moment. Not putting Castellanos on the bench means the Dodgers would have four hitters with no power … and Uribe, who can’t hit at all.
1 – Clayton Kershaw
2 – Zack Greinke
3 – Josh Beckett
4 – Chad Billingsley
5 – Hyun Jin Ryu
The order is jumbled because of injury and what not, but this is what was projected at the end of the off-season, and while it’s been an adventure to get here, it’s basically worked out how it was supposed to.
That said, given the way the schedule looks, it’s possible that Chad Billingsley or Zack Greinke could be put on the DL and have their turn skipped a couple times while they work into shape (Greinke) or recover from injury (Billingsley). Either way though, that would only buy the team 10 games or so to do something before a roster decision would be forced.
CL – Brandon League
ST – Kenley Jansen
RP – Ronald Belisario
RP – J.P Howell
RP – Matt Guerrier
RP – Kevin Gregg
RP – Aaron Harang
DL – Scott Elbert
DL – Ted Lilly
Lefty Reliever – Sorry Paco Rodriguez, you might be better than two, three, or even four pitchers in the bullpen, but you have options, so bye bye.
Veteran Reliever – Kevin Gregg has a 0.87 ERA over 10.1 IP this spring, while Peter Moylan is at a 7.56 ERA in 8.1 IP. Colletti must have a NRI veteran reliever on the team, so it is Gregg. Plus, he has closing experience, which automatically makes him the best!
Starter Turned Reliever – Ted Lilly has to end up on the DL because he looks fucking terrible. Don’t whine to me about language. It is what it is.
What happened to Chris Capuano? I think he gets traded and soon. I picked him to get dealt over Aaron Harang because he’s a better pitcher and more valuable to teams. That said, there’s an extremely compelling case for Capuano to be in the pen over Harang. It consists of Capuano saying that he can come out of the pen, while Mattingly said he sees Harang as a starter only. I get that, but unless the Dodgers want to get nothing in return, I can’t see why a team would settle for Harang when they could have Capuano, especially given their handedness.
Either way, I’m confident something of significance happens with a trade, because if not, I’m unsure how the pen would shake out unless they carry 13 pitchers. As mentioned earlier, an option would be putting Bills or Greinke on the DL, but that’s a stop-gap solution at best. I suppose Gregg could be let go, but we all know that would burn Ned’s soul, so I figure one of the two healthy excess starters won’t be a Dodger for long.
Now we just wait for the announcement that Harang has been traded, Gregg has been cut, and Sellers will start at SS because … of course it would happen.