Sunday, March 02, 2014

Wanted: Starting Second Baseman

If Alex Guerrero isn't ready to go, as many are surmising based on early spring play, then the Dodgers have a hole at second base. Jim Bowden of ESPN guesses that, barring a big acquisition, a skinny (or maybe not-too-skinny) guy may get the call (link insider only). I'm groaning already:

It's no secret that the Los Angeles Dodgers think they are the favorites to win the World Series, and with their star-studded roster it's hard to disagree. There's only one problem: They don't have a second baseman.

Yes, they signed Alex Guerrero to a four-year, $28 million deal last fall, but the 27-year-old Cuban hasn't proved himself in spring training, and manager Don Mattingly told me the position is "up in the air." I was in Dodgers camp Friday, and multiple evaluators told me that Guerrero needs extensive time at Triple-A to refine his skills at second base (he played shortstop in Cuba) and regain his timing after not playing at all last year.

The club loves his work ethic and thinks he will be a contributor down the line, but signs point to him beginning the season in Albuquerque. Assuming that's true, the Dodgers need a second baseman. Let's break down the possible alternatives to Guerrero both inside and outside of the organization.

Internal solutions

Dee Gordon: He's gained about 20 pounds of strength in his upper body and is trying to prove he can barrel the ball up with authority. He's still a little careless in the field, but if he can cut down on his errors and hit .250 with 30 stolen bases, he would be playable. The club will also give him some reps in center field to increase his versatility down the line.

Chone Figgins: Don't laugh -- there are a lot of people in Dodgers camp rooting for Figgins to be a comeback story. But he is 36 years old, and hasn't been an impact player since 2009. If he makes the club, it will more likely be as a utility guy who can fill in at second, third and left.

Justin Turner: He posted a respectable .275/.319/.388 line over the last two years as a bench player with the Mets, but even though second base is his natural position, the Dodgers think he will be exposed with an everyday job and is more likely to take over the bench role occupied by the departed Nick Punto.

Brendan Harris: He's a decent right-handed hitter but has below-average range at second and third. Similar to Turner, but probably not as good at this point in his career.

External solutions that Bowden mentions include Stephen Drew, Nick Franklin, and Darwin Frickin' Barney. Have we sunk that low that we're considering Darwin Barney? Holy cow, I'm worried.


Unknown said...

In Mattingly, we trust. NOT.