What would you do if you were in Joe Torre’s shoes?
If I was Joe for one day and my only job was to make the final cuts and decide who was going to be on the Dodgers, going to Albuquerque, or the unemployment line this is what I would do.
When it comes to the bench, you have to give a spot to Loretta because that is what he was brought here for, to be the right handed pinch hitter, and take Nomar’s spot as the utility infielder.
Hopefully his groin injury is healing and doesn’t linger on much longer. Then you have Ausmus to back up Martin which is good because he calls a good game and is a good defensive catcher. He also has a little more pop then Ardoin had.
Next is Pierre who is also guaranteed a spot because he is our No. 4 outfielder and is only in year three of a five-year contract for $44 million unless he gets traded down the line.
Also according to a report in the LA Times on Apr. 1, 2009 he is at ease for being the No. 4 until something clears up in his situation so that is good because he won’t be causing any problems.
Now this is where it gets tricky because you have two more bench spots with seven or so guys vying for them if Torre stays with his plan of 13 fielders and 12 pitchers.
The seven guys in the mix at some level are Mientkiewicz, DeWitt, Hu, Luna, Castro, Repko, and Paul and from a report I read on Dodgers.com on 04/02/09 it is really tighter then that and down to Mientkiewicz, DeWitt, and Hu.
The two guys I would choose are Mientkiewicz and DeWitt with Paul as a close third. I would choose Mientkiewicz because he plays first base which will give Loney more rest and an actual first basemen to spell him. He is also left handed and can also be the left handed pinch hitter.
He has been hitting well this spring and looked good in his other plate appearances that he hasn’t reached base. I would choose DeWitt because he is versatile and can play all over the infield.
He also hits for a respectable average and has nice pop for a young guy and showed he can perform at this level all last season. He also has a Manny like approach at the plate working counts deep, looking for his pitch, puts the ball in play, and has a low strike out tendency.
Paul is my third choice strictly for his offensive potential but with him coming off the bench, his statistics will probably be less dramatic then they have been this spring but the thought of his offensive pop is nice to have in waiting.
With the rest of the guys I would put them on the 40 man roster and see if they would accept a role at Albuquerque where they can get a lot of playing time and be ready for a call up when the injury bug begins to hit.
The starters on this squad could be really scary for opposing pitchers and the best batting line up in the majors if they hit to their potential.
We have about half our lineup not even in their prime and the other half are either in their prime now or are so called past their prime but still extremely productive.
Our lineup has the potential for our one through eight to hit at least 10 homers a piece and 40+ RBI from everyone and throw in DeWitt and he is right in there with those statistics. I would also build the lineup as follows:
And you could switch up Kemp and Ethier cause their power numbers are similar but I think Kemp has more potential to be a 30+ homer guy and Ethier more a 25-30 homer guy.
Our starting pitching staff is gonna be ok. There will be some bumps and bruises with them being so young with Billingsley, Kershaw, and apparently McDonald who will join Wolf and Kuroda in the rotation.
The only way I see it changing is if Manny can talk Pedro’s price down and we sign him as some sporting news outlets are reporting he is trying to do. Even if that happens, McDonald will be in the bullpen ready to go as a long reliever or fill in for the No. 5 starter.
I would like to set the bullpen up as follows with Broxton, Kuo, Wade, Ohman, Weaver and any one or two guys from the group of Milton, Stults, Elbert, Schmidt (when ready), and Mota depending on if we were able to sign Pedro.
I would pick Mota first out of that group because he is a power pitcher and he looked really good this weekend and all spring with an era of 2.25.
If I had to pick one more pitcher I would pick Stults because he is left handed and has pitched well when he has been called up in the past. He could also be an emergency #5 starter and fill in another long reliever role.
I would then see if we could keep Milton, Elbert, Schmidt on the team by sending them down to Albuquerque to join Estes if he decides to stay and be ready to fill in when needed. This would give us a very balanced rotation and bullpen of righties and lefties.
If things go good I see the boys in blue winning the NL West with a good chance of going to the World Series but everything hinges on how our pitching staff does. It will depend on how much the starters burn up the bullpen since both are going to be developing identities and if our young bullpen can close out games.
If there was any weak point in our pitching in the last five years it is that our starters have not pitched deep into games except for Lowe so our bullpen has really been depended on and both will be tested this year.