There’s Finally Real, Live Dodger Baseball Today

Well, as “real” as any game that will include at least five pitchers who have just about no shot of seeing any actual meaningful time for the big club this year can be. Still, for the first time since last September, we’ll have Dodger baseball against another team in a game that, if not actually meaningful, will at least be played under the normal rules of Major League Baseball. If it’s not quite Game 7 of the World Series out there, at least it’s something.

Of course, the tendency in our current 24/7 Twitter age is to place an overabundance of importance on early spring games just because it’s the first new on-field data we’ve had on players in months, and it’s important to remember how unrealistic it is to expect players to be in mid-season form on March 5. Different players arrive in different states of fitness, and batters & pitchers don’t always get up to gear at the same speed; even if they did, the focus is less on winning games than getting loose and getting your timing down. Hey, maybe Chad Billingsley throws two shutout innings today. Or maybe, as he attempts to tweak his mechanics this spring, he gives up six homers, like Atlanta’s Julio Teheran did yesterday on a windy day in Florida. It’s important to keep in mind that none of that matters right now. (Except for every Juan Uribe oh-fer. That’ll always matter.)

With that in mind, here’s today’s lineup, which isn’t that far off from what we expect to see on Opening Day other than at third base. (Though it is somewhat odd that Uribe is the only starter who isn’t in this lineup…) Since the Dodgers are the road team today against their Camelback Ranch co-tenants Chicago, the designated hitter is in use.

1) Dee Gordon SS
2) Mark Ellis 2B
3) Matt Kemp CF
4) Andre Ethier RF
5) Juan Rivera LF
6) James Loney 1B
7) Adam Kennedy 3B
8) A.J. Ellis C
9) Tony Gwynn DH

Again, spring training, so no complaining that Gwynn (who can’t hit) is DH while Rivera (who can’t field) is in left. Most of these guys will only play the first few innings, and by the end of the game the Dodger lineup will look more like Chattanooga’s JV team. (Update: according to Eric Stephen, the reserves are listed as well. Expect to see appearances from Justin Sellers (SS), Ivan De Jesus (2B), Trent Oeltjen (CF), Scott Van Slyke (RF), Alex Castellanos (LF), Josh Fields (1B), Russ Mitchell (3B), & Tim Federowicz (C). Nathan Eovaldi will follow Billingsley with two more innings, and they’ll be followed by one inning apiece from non-roster guys Fernando Nieve, Wil Ledezma, Angel Guzman, Ryan Tucker & Scott Rice.

Today’s game won’t be televised, but tomorrow’s “home opener”  against the Giants will be shown live at 12:05pm PT on Prime Ticket and starting at 1pm PT on MLB Network.

******

Over at Baseball Prospectus, the continuing division-by-division preview continues, with Jay Jaffe joined by Geoff Young (formerly of Ducksnorts) to join the chorus of voices not nearly convinced that Ned Colletti’s offseason plan was in any way the right one. Two snippets:

3. Beyond Matt Kemp, who is going to provide offense for this team?
JJ: Andre Ethier and nobody else. That infield—James Loney, Mark Ellis, Dee Gordon, and Juan Uribe—is going to be the least productive in baseball, unless you’re counting Gordon’s steals for your fantasy team.

GY: Agreed, assuming Ethier is healthy. It’s incredible to think that a team would miss the bats of Jamey Carroll and Rod Barajas.

JJ: It truly is. What drives me nuts about Colletti isn’t that he bought low on so many guys—there’s a value strategy that can work in there—it’s that he went for the backloaded second year, when the first one might be a disaster.

5. How does left field unfold between Phony Gwynn, Juan Rivera, and Jerry Sands? Is the latter ever going to get another shot?
GY:
You’ve got a guy in his prime who will never hit big-league pitching, a guy past his prime who can’t play a position, and young kid who has dominated the minors. Which one do you make sure never sees the light of day? Not that Sands is great, but it seems to me he deserves a chance.

JJ: I agree. And don’t think at my age that I’ll live to see it, at least under this regime.

48 comments
Nj-Dodger-fan
Nj-Dodger-fan

My biggest concern with Lee is that he gives up and becomes a waste of an investment. Lee has good stuff, but not guaranteed 5 million dollars without throwing a single pitch stuff.

Nj-Dodger-fan
Nj-Dodger-fan

It is Coletti that traded away top prospects like Trayvon Robinson and Carlos Santana however. And who did we get for Trayvon? A mediocre (at best) catching prospect who will never hit well enough to be starter. And was Zach Lee really worth the 5 mil. signing bonus? Logan White and co. don't look much better than Frank and Ned though.

Nj-Dodger-fan
Nj-Dodger-fan

So far everyone's talking if everything goes right, our boys in blue will hover around .500 . Well, what if they don't go right? What if Kemp and Kershaw have average to below average years? This could possibly be one of the worst Dodger teams in history. And the farm is in shambles as well. Zach Lee is projected to be a solid two, not the star we once hoped. Besides him, we have a farm stacked with no offense and a bunch of #3 to 5 starters / relief pitchers. McCourt and Coletti have really screwed the ball club over.

DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy
DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy

Don't make a big deal, but i couldn't help but smile because you just know in a game where we will need a DH this season this is what will happen :) Hopefully not the one i attend.

Ben
Ben

There's been a lot of depressing things about this offseason, but IMO the most depressing is Don Mattingly's seeming lack of confidence in Jerry Sands.

Shane
Shane

As long as we're competitive by the July tradeline and a new owner is upon us, i think we can make a few moves. The saving grace is the rest of the NL West isn't that great either.

Nj-Dodger-fan
Nj-Dodger-fan

Hoping for a deadline trade for David Wright and Josh Thole. :) A guy can dream right?

Bip
Bip

GY: You’ve got a guy in his prime who will never hit big-league pitching, a guy past his prime who can’t play a position, and young kid who has dominated the minors. Which one do you make sure never sees the light of day? Not that Sands is great, but it seems to me he deserves a chance. This is the kind of thing that makes me shiver with rage. - Unrelated: Dodgers rank dead last in fangraphs' power rankings at catcher. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/positional-power-rankings-catcher/

Alex
Alex

I'm sick of this BS playing Rivera and Gwynn both over Sands. Its an omen for whats to come this season. No platoon, no giving days off, its time to give him LF and let him call it his own. Sure if Ethier needs a day move him over and let Gwynn or Rivera play. But Sands should be starting LF from day 1 this year. I don't get what the hell goes on in Ned's head.

Mike
Mike

Per Shaikin and Heyman, we're back up to 8 bidders for ownership now, because Michael Heisley & Tony Ressler have joined forces and are back in the game.

CaseyBlakeDeWitt
CaseyBlakeDeWitt

As weird as it is, my favorite part of spring training is seeing the has-beens and never-were's playing in the second half of these games. I'm looking forward to seeing guys like Van Slyke, Federowicz, and Castellanos play.

Mike
Mike

Updated with the reserves.

SamAdams
SamAdams

Should be Rivera DH and Gwynn LF, right?

Mike
Mike

What do you mean, "gives up"? You mean, quit baseball and go back to football? Where have we seen any indication of that? I know 5 million for a high schooler sounds like a lot, but it's really not when you consider the potential for him to be worth far more than that, especially compared with terrible veteran infielders getting much, much more.

john m
john m

Yes, Zach Lee was worth the 5 mil signing bonus. Wait till he and Kershaw are in the same rotation and remember the Dodgers were the team willing to take him in the draft. Everyone thought the Dodgers were doing that to save money by not signing him. With all of the problems that the current ownership has provided, at least we took a chance on this signing.

GoDodgers
GoDodgers

I get that international scouting budget has been slashed, but sooner or later we have to ask whether Logan White is really doing the amazing job that we always think he's doing. It's not McCourt who's drafting players and coaching them in the minors. Unless Sands and Gordon make it as passable MLB players (and I honestly don't see that out of Gordon), we will have zero position players under team control outside of two 30th ranked catchers, and no, that's not because Colletti traded away awesome prospects that Logan White drafted.

Nj-Dodger-fan
Nj-Dodger-fan

Sands is just an average prospect, people are acting like he's Bryce Harper. I really don't see Sands being anything more than an average MLB player. That said, even having an average player would be an improvement in left.

badger3
badger3

I don't know. The Dbacks could be better than they were last year and the gints will be better. I have both of those teams winning 90. The Dodgers? 83 - if all goes well.

Joseph
Joseph

I think the thing I understand least about this analysis is how Ellis is rated as being equal defensively with Barajas. Uh, no sorry, Ellis is definitely better defensively than Barajas. Oh and I just love this quote "Conservative projections aren't too keen on either standing out, so while the Dodgers might rank towards the top in other areas, nobody should expect much of their backstop this year." Rank towards the top in what? Centerfield, Ace pitchers, and maybe right field?

Mike
Mike

Yeah, not good. Though I do think Ellis is being a bit underrated there.

GoDodgers
GoDodgers

This may be a small consolation, but we should've beaten the Mariners at least, since Montero shouldn't have counted.

GoDodgers
GoDodgers

I really don't get anything about the Dodgers anymore. Brett Gardner can play LF for the Yankees, but apparently the Dodgers are too good for a glove-first OF who averaged over 2 WAR in the last 3 years. Sands was the 7th best OF in the PCL last year at wRC+ of 119. Playing him everyday would be basically admitting that the season is lost and we are using the Dodgers as a AAAA club for developing the youngsters.

Mike
Mike

Not weird at all. I love that.

Jon#7#22
Jon#7#22

Yep ST let's us get shots of all kinds of guys. Wish today's was on TV.

SamAdams
SamAdams

Oops, I see you changed from two DH to Rivera LF and Gwynn DH.

Mike
Mike

nicely done.

Nj-Dodger-fan
Nj-Dodger-fan

I mean gives up on trying to improve himself. As for returning to football, he did recently say LSU would have won if he was QBing. I don't think he would seriously go back though. As for potential, the kid has lots of it. But remember, not all prospects pan out. Remember J-Lo's power potential? Heh..... As fans we always overvalue our teams prospects. And after taking a long hard look at Lee(I'm not an expert by any means) I just don't see a future ace yet. Granted, he's still very young and raw, but the 5 mil the Dodgers shelled out for him is crazy IMHO. Not to justify the far more egregious contracts Ned handed out this off season. There is no way Juan Rivera is worth even half his salary.

Nj-Dodger-fan
Nj-Dodger-fan

I dont see what makes Zach Lee so good to be honest. His fastball lacks velocity, and his curve and change need lots of work to be even average pitches. His first year at A ball was good. Good, not great though. I like his k/9 and bb/9 ratios, but thats about it. Kid should have stayed at LSU to play QB. I hope he pans out though, we need a solid # 2 behind Kershaw, and with each passing season Billingsley is looking less and less like that guy.

Format
Format

Zero position players under contract? Im not sure I follow you there. Every player is under contract through 2013, or under team control, except for Ethier and Loney.

Mike
Mike

I do agree that the White love has been a bit much at times, but I think you're being a bit pessimistic. I don't see Sands or Gordon as stars, but to write them off as not even being potentially average seems harsh. And though you joke about it, yes, Colletti has traded away most of the good hitting prospects. It's no secret that White drafts pitching over hitting, so combine that with the trades made, I don't see why it is a surprise the org is light in bats. Besides, what highly drafted hitting prospect has he really struck out on? I'll give you Preston Mattingly, who was a questionable pick from day one. But who else?

Bip
Bip

Exactly. Sands only looks like Bryce Harper because this club has nothing in the bigs or in the farm when it comes to position players.

Bip
Bip

Rivera's defense is so bad and Gwynn's offense is so bad that Sand's decent defense and offense that projects to be decent will certainly be at least at good as one or the other. Both Rivera and Gwynn have significant flaws which make them better as role players, while Sands can be as valuable an everyday player and he has the potential to be more.

Mike
Mike

Wait, what? That is wrong. Stop being wrong.

NJ-Dodger-fan
NJ-Dodger-fan

First of all Brett Gardner is a far superior ball player than Tony Gwynn Jr. Second of all, the Yanks can afford to let Gardner play LF because they're loaded with offensive talent. The Dodgers have Matt Kemp, and nobody else. Be prepared for a lot of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 losses this season. :(

Mike
Mike

oh, I thought you were baiting me. Yeah, I had that mistakenly up for about 10 seconds.

badger3
badger3

You are making a lot of sense in here Nj. Be careful with that. . I too thought Lee should have played qb at LSU. That's what I would have done. That is an opportunity few get. But, 5 million is a lot of cheddar to leave on the table. I hope he is worth it.

Bip
Bip

He throws in the upper 90's? I don't think that's right. If he threw in the upper 90's he'd be at least a top 20 prospect overall, considering he only walked 6.8% of batters in his first year of professional ball, and he's 20.

john m
john m

Granted he needs some work, but he's only 20. He throws in the upper 90s and has shown glimpses of a plus curve and good slider. He is the top Dodger prospect on most lists. Give him some time he is going to pan out.

GoDodgers
GoDodgers

I meant under team control in 2013, i.e. no below-market position players giving us surplus value that can be used to get that big bat we sorely need.

GoDodgers
GoDodgers

I don't see teams making prospect for prospect trades very often. We would have to trade our prospect for MLB players or our MLB pitchers for prospect bats. That said, not sure what kind of bats our pitching would bring. Nothing spectacular, for sure. If Zach Wheeler can only buy two months of Beltran, and Pineda + good prospect brought back Montero, we couldn't really expect the best of GMs to do much with Webster and Eovaldi. Not to mention we desperately need those guys, if only to take the spots currently held by Harang, Lily, and Capuano, because, well, we don't have very much pitching depth.

badger3
badger3

I agree Bip. I always figured that was the plan. Stock up on pitching, cuz we seem to know it, and then trade it for bats, that we can't seem to draft. And, I also figured that with the ability to have a $100+ million payroll every year, we would always have a stout lineup, from top to bottom. I figured wrong.

Bip
Bip

If we had a competent GM we could trade our pitching depth for prospects at other positions.

GoDodgers
GoDodgers

Well DeWitt, but then he did give us one good season, and that's not nothing. The lack of bats in the majors and in the minors is more of an indictment than any actual picks that failed. We would not be any better off today, if we had kept Andy LaRoche or Bell or Trayvon Robinson, who won't even make it as a 4th outfielder for the injury-hit Mariners outfield. There's always Santana, yes, but that's one guy, and besides he was an international signing. One thing is true, we've consistently picked low, lost picks, and seldom picked up compensation picks. And, other than Ethier, there's been very little of value we got from the players we traded away. All the same, Logan White simply has to get us more bats, even below average, backup bats, so we don't need the Juan Riveras and Adam Kennedies of the world. There's only so much we can do with relievers.

GoDodgers
GoDodgers

Our pitching isn't all that great either, we have a bunch of flyball guys, and bad defense at center and right. But yeah, it's going to be a horrible season regardless. 2014 season can't come soon enough.

badger3
badger3

The season isn't lost. It's right there waiting to be played. And, the Dodgers, as they are currently constructed, look like maybe a .500 club. I say maybe. This current team is not headed to the play-offs. . Now having said that, if they stick around .500 until new ownership is in place, and the stands start filling up, maybe a deadline move or two will generate enough enthusiasm to help the team make a move toward the play-offs. But, I think NJ fan is right. This will be a scoring challenged Dodger club.