Is Alex Castellanos about to trade in his Dodger blue for Isotope red?
By 3pm ET / 12pm PT on Sunday, the Dodgers will need to finalize their 25-man Opening Day Roster. That means in the next 24 hours, more than a few questions are going to need to be answered.
Here’s what we know right now with one calendar day and a single spring game left between now and decision time.
Active Roster Locks (20):
Disabled List (3):
Still in camp (13):
Not technically in camp, but somehow still in the mix (1):
As you can see, there’s still a ton of uncertainty there, with 37 names in line for 25 spots. From the list of guys still competing for a spot, we can safely cross off Wallach, Amezega, Fife, Moylan, Rodriguez, and Wall. Remove those six, plus the three headed for the disabled list, and what you’re left with is eight players battling for five spots — Greinke, Capuano, Harang, Lilly, Gregg, Castellanos, Herrera, and Sellers.
The first spot seems very likely to go to Greinke, though I’ll hold off on calling him a “lock” until we see how he comes out of his start in Anaheim tonight, considering how much time he’s missed. It’s still possible that he begins the year on the disabled list in order to give him more time to build up arm strength, as well as to give Ned Colletti more time to work out his starting situation. However, unless tonight’s a disaster I consider that unlikely.
I’m guessing that it’s the opposite for Lilly, because he’s been both limited and ineffective this spring. It sounds as though the Dodgers are already trying to get him to agree to a disabled list stint, and it’s difficult to argue there’s a role for him right now otherwise. If he truly wants to stay with the Dodgers, as he says he does, it might be in his best interest to wait until trades are made and he’s actually ready.
Assuming that Greinke stays and Lilly doesn’t, you have six players — Capuano, Harang, Gregg, Castellanos, Herrera, and Sellers — looking at four spots, three to pitchers and one to a hitter. There’s two big questions that will go into those decisions:
1) Who gets that final bench spot?
It’s difficult if not impossible to see the Dodgers going with fewer than 12 pitchers, so that leaves only one bench spot remaining, short of an improbable trade or shocking Uribe DFA. Most of us are ready to see Castellanos get his shot on a team that badly needs a righty corner outfield option with some power, but Sellers seems to have become a viable option in recent days.
Two of those pitchers were effective starters in the bigs last season. One was so awful that he was cut by the Orioles and needed our help to understand why he didn’t get a big league contract this winter. So in theory this should be simple, but Gregg seems to be the annual spring training NRI mirage — “hey, 0.87 ERA in 10.1 innings! No, don’t mind the four strikeouts!” — and Harang doesn’t seem to be a fit at all in the bullpen.
Jon Weisman surfaced at Dodger Thoughts to make the argument that neither starter should be sold at a deep discount just to make room for a guy like Gregg, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. Since we’ve shockingly gone through the entire spring without seeing a starting pitcher traded, and since Gregg does not have an out clause before the season, I’m beginning to believe that he’ll be sent to Albuquerque and both Capuano & Harang will start in the bullpen. Neither will likely be thrilled about that, but the alternatives are limited.
Of course, these are all only very temporary solutions; Billingsley reportedly looked great in a minor league outing yesterday, and could return as soon as April 7. No matter who the Dodgers break camp with tomorrow afternoon, it’s almost certainly not going to be the same group we see 10 days from now.