The bench. Oh, the bench. Now that Chone Figgins is in the mix and certainly a tantalizing option for Ned Colletti as he puts together the Dodgers bench, I am increasingly missing Mark Ellis more and more. The season hasn’t even started, and I’m already feeling forlorn about MEllis’ sure-handed middle infield defense. It would have been too easy for the Dodgers just to re-sign Mark Ellis or Nick Punto, but no they instead let those integral defenders go to other teams who not surprisingly snatched them up this offseason.
At least Alexander Guerrero made it into the country. Guerrero, who was held up waiting for his Visa, is now at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona working out and hopefully taking a lot of grounders at second. Guerrero will most likely be the Opening Day second baseman for the Dodgers, but there is still question marks surrounding who will fill out the bench.
Now that the Masahiro Tanaka drama is behind us, we can now focus on rounding out the roster and filling in the gaps. The bench was crucial last season for the Dodgers especially after the plethora of injuries during the first two months of the season which left Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker playing more games than we ever imagined that they would. Now the Dodgers must try to replace those key utility guys with players who can cover the infield and especially the middle infield. Also with Matt Kemp‘s iffy status, it wouldn’t hurt to have another back-up outfielder on the squad. We all know that Carl Crawford won’t be able to play 162 games this year either.
The options aren’t too appealing, but let’s take a look anyways.
Michael Young is still not retired, and the Dodgers are still considering bringing back the veteran. The 37-year old can play third base, second base, and shortstop but none of them very well. In the 21 games we say Young play in for the Dodgers last season, he hit .314 with 16 hits in 53 plate appearances. I was truly annoyed at his whopping one lone hit during the NLDS and NLCS for the Dodgers, so he wouldn’t be my personal first choice. While his defense is subpar, he is an experienced hitter (although in decline). He’s just the type of gritty veteran who appeals to Colletti, so I wouldn’t be shocked at all to read an announcement of his signing here soon. The thing is, Young wouldn’t be the worst choice. It could be worse, read on.
Chone Figgins is trying to resurrect his career, and the Dodgers may just be the team to help him do it. Figgins, also a veteran, hasn’t played since 2012. He doesn’t steal anymore. He can’t hit anymore. He’d be perfect on the bench! The upside to Figgins is that he’s extremely versatile, and he can play almost anywhere. That means he could be thrown out in center field if necessary or in the infield. He once stole 62 bases. Alas, that was a long time ago. Still, speed is a an area in which the Dodgers really lack. He’s not all that speedy anymore, but unless Dee Gordon is on the bench the pinch-running options will be thin as they were last year.
Miguel Rojas will be playing a lot this Spring, and he may just make the Opening Day roster a la Justin Sellers last year. Ned Colletti seemed enamored by his excellent defense, and with a new MLBer in Alexander Guerrero at second base and a spotty gloved Hanley Ramirez at short, Rojas’ defense may just win him a spot on the bench. After eight seasons in the minor league system (primarily with Cincinnati), Rojas, the youngest in the bunch at 24, batted an unimpressive .234/.303/.307.
Brendan Harris is another name which will be frequently seen this Spring. Unlike Rojas, Harris has had some honest-to-goodness Major League experience. He can play all around the infield like Rojas, but he’s not as defensively strong. Last year with the Angels, Harris played in 44 games while hitting .206 with 22 hits including 4 homeruns.
Justin Sellers is a legitimate candidate to make the team again, although his showing at the beginning of last season (except for
that tumbling catch into the stands making the highlight reels) gave him the subsequent ticket back to Albuquerque after 27 games. He’s younger (27) then some of the aforementioned guys, and his defense is quite stellar. He can play shortstop well, and if Hanley should become disabled (trying not to think about that much but it has to be said), then Sellers would be the first in line to replace him. He’s also already on the 40-man roster. Unless the Dodgers go with…
Dee Gordon is a conundrum, yet a speedy one. At 25-years old, he is the second youngest option out of this haphazard group of players. In his three years as a part-time player, Dee Gordon has amazed and frustrated us at the same time. If somehow, somehow he could figure out how to hit consistently and not make so many darn flailing errors, he could be a great asset to the Dodgers bench. His speed is a game-changer, but the Dodgers just haven’t figured out how to harness his talents while developing his weaknesses.
While none of these options really stands out as the perfect solution, it is almost guaranteed that at least one of these players will make the team. Maybe even two should Kemp be still limping around come April. Spring Training should give us a better indication on how the bench will end up, but as of right now we have: Tim Federowicz, extra outfielder, Scott Van Slyke, insert name here, insert name here.