Dodgers @ Rockies May 31, 2013: Peter Moylan For Center Field

coorsfieldThe Dodgers finally dipped down into the organization to make a long-awaited move to reinforce the roster today, looking to help a group that is minus Matt Kemp and dealing with aches to Carl Crawford & A.J. Ellis. To fill that gap, they’ve optioned Javy Guerra to Albuquerque, moved Scott Elbert to the 60-day disabled list, and recalled… *drum roll*…

34-year-old Australian non-roster reliever Peter Moylan. Oh.

Considering the kind of moves we’ve been talking about around here for the last few days, that seems like a horrible disappointment, especially since Clayton Kershaw starts tonight and the bullpen hasn’t been horribly overworked lately — and there’s still no viable center fielder. But there is a certain amount of logic to it: Moylan and his wonderful mustache had a June 1 opt-out in his contract if he wasn’t promoted to the big leagues. He’ll wear #41 and last threw on Tuesday, so he should be available.

Dodgers
Rockies
2B
M.Ellis
LF
Young
RF
Ethier
CF
Fowler
1B
Gonzalez
SS
Tulowitzki
C
Hernandez
RF
Cuddyer
LF
Van Slyke
C
Rosario
CF
Schumaker
1B
Pacheco
SS
Cruz
3B
Arenado
3B
Uribe
2B
LeMahieu
P
Kershaw
P
Garland

What that means, really, is that this has nothing to do with the ongoing center field issue and was likely to happen regardless; all it is, really, is swapping one righty reliever for another before Moylan was lost. (Though Guerra was serving as the “long man”, more or less, a role Moylan is ill-suited for.) Moylan had pitched reasonably well in 17 games for the Isotopes, striking out 24 in 23 innings while holding righties to a line of .255/.305/.327. Lefties predictably torched him, but he was better than his 3.52 ERA would indicate since he allowed three earned runs in his season debut and only six in the 16 games since.

As for Elbert, as some have asked me, no — this does not reset his clock and require him to be out for an additional two months. By all indications, he’s mere days from returning (as he should be after a surprising eight rehab appearances) and so this is just a paperwork move to get Moylan on the roster. Why it was him rather than Shawn Tolleson, out for months after back surgery, I do not know. But of course, as Elbert comes back along with Hanley Ramirez — who starts his rehab tonight — and whatever solution they go with in center, likely Yasiel Puig, many more moves are coming.

In the meantime, Crawford sits tonight after yesterday’s adventure with the left field wall, so Scott Van Slyke gets another start, but this next time to Skip Schumaker in center. No, there’s no typo in my lineups over there… that is indeed Ramon Hernandez cleaning up tonight. The Rockie-turned-Dodger will face Dodger-turned-Rockie Jon Garland, who has had trouble missing bats (28 in 57 innings) for Colorado. Then again, he also had 28 whiffs in 54 innings for the 2011 Dodgers, so that’s basically just what he is these days.

Fri 10/11Sat 10/12Sun 10/13Mon 10/14Tues 10/15Wed 10/16Thurs 10/17
RR. Belisario9105
LJ.P. Howell152026
RK. Jansen51626
RC. Marmol26
RB. Wilson281411
RC. Withrow2544
RE. Volquez

How Many Dodgers Are Headed to Colorado?

elian_herrera_2013_springCall up prospects! So, Yasiel Puig. Or Joc Pederson! Or call up Elian Herrera or Tony Gwynn or Matt Angle to fill the center field gap, but also DFA Luis Cruz and Ramon Hernandez and put A.J. Ellis on the disabled list and Carl Crawford too and…

…and let’s just all take a deep breath and hang on for a second here. After all the excitement around Matt Kemp heading to the disabled list yesterday and various kinds of speculation on who might replace him, my best guess for what is going to happen today is this:

Nothing.

That isn’t inside info or anything other than my own semi-informed speculation, and it won’t make very many happy, because it will mean that either Andre Ethier or Skip Schumaker has to man the spacious center field in Denver tonight. (And if Crawford, who is sore from making a phenomenal catch last night, can’t go, we’re in for yet another hilarious outfield combination.)

It’s just the way the pieces seem to be falling into place. Many, like Jon Heyman of CBS, are pushing for Puig to be called up today. But doing that after a single game in center field seems more than a little premature, and it isn’t going to happen today anyway since he was still with the Lookouts in Mobile, AL as of this morning. No word on if Pederson still is, but he did end up entering last night’s game after all, meaning that the throwaway joke I had made about manager Jody Reed being the biggest troll in the world is more or less true. (Yes, that’s the same Jody Reed who was indirectly responsible for the ill-fated trade that sent Pedro Martinez out of town for Delino DeShields two decades ago. Best guy.)

It really seems more than likely that the team is planning to have Puig play center this weekend and potentially join the team when they return to Los Angeles on Monday — again, just speculation — and so that would mean the Dodgers have a three-game set in Colorado to cover without him. But we’ve heard nothing about Tony Gwynn being on the move (he played for Albuquerque last night), and Elian Herrera was moved to the temporarily inactive list by the Isotopes, which is similar to the bereavement list, so we don’t know what’s happening there.

What’s complicating all this somewhat is the status of Ellis, since his oblique strain is an unexpected wrench in the mix. The team seems hesitant to disable him, preferring instead to give him a day or two to attempt to recover. If you call up Gwynn now, not only do you add him to the 40-man roster, you have to either prematurely disable Ellis or designate Luis Cruz for assignment. Neither seems very likely at this point, and don’t forget that yet another move is in the works when Hanley Ramirez is activated, maybe as soon as Monday.

So yes, if you’ve read between the lines there, Monday could potentially feature both Puig & Ramirez in the lineup. (If everything falls into place, which it very well may not.) But unless there’s a substantial change in the health status of Ellis or Crawford, it seems unlikely help is coming this weekend, and that’s going to make for some very interesting lineups. Fortunately, the Rockies are starting righties Jon Garland and Jhoulys Chacin the next two nights, so that might at least give Don Mattingly reason to have Schumaker in center rather than Ethier. Say this, at least: the next few days are not going to be boring.

Dodgers @ Angels May 30, 2013: Three Catchers, Zero Center Fielders

angelstadiumSo after an entire day of speculating about what the Dodgers might do if they had to disable Matt Kemp, going through all of the potential options, the answer is — as you guessed it might be — Tim Federowicz. Because when your team has a million fungible utility infielders and exactly zero viable center fielders, why wouldn’t you want the luxury of a third catcher? Frankly, I’m not sure why we didn’t just predict this right off the bat.

I am of course being just a tad sarcastic here, because there’s a pretty valid reason for this — A.J. Ellis is dealing with a sore muscle in his left side. (“And that’s why you don’t DFA Ramon Hernandez,” says J. Walter Weatherman.) We’re getting a whole lot of conflicting reports about this; Dylan Hernandez says that it “could be a DL situation”, J.P. Hoornstra says the move to add a third catcher “is temporary”, while Scott Miller of CBS says they “hope to know more in a day or two.”.

Dodgers
Angels
LF
Crawford
SS
Aybar
2B
M.Ellis
CF
Trout
1B
Gonzalez
1B
Pujols
RF
Van Slyke
RF
Trumbo
3B
Hairston
2B
Kendrick
CF
Ethier
3B
Callaspo
C
Federowicz
C
Ianetta
DH
Hernandez
DH
Nelson
SS
Punto
LF
Shuck

Both Federowicz and Hernandez are in the lineup tonight, and yes, that is Andre Ethier playing center field, against a lefty no less. With Ted Lilly, a flyball pitcher, on the mound. This team really just never stops being fun.

So the real question now is… what’s next? It’s there where things keep getting more and more complicated. In addition to the uncertainty over Ellis, Ethier really can’t be more than a stopgap in center for a day or two, and so of course everyone has been clamoring for the promotion of either Joc Pederson or Yasiel Puig. Speculation of such a move only got hotter when the Double-A Lookouts were the only game in the Southern League not to have announced their lineup 30 minutes before first pitch… and then got white-hot when we saw that Puig was playing center field and Pederson was nowhere to be found.

That doesn’t mean with 100% certainty that Pederson is coming, and in fact Don Mattingly is actively saying now that he thinks that they’ll call up someone from Triple-A to man center field. If so, that’s more than likely Elian Herrera, who is on the 40-man roster but not in tonight’s Albuquerque lineup (Tony Gwynn, not on the 40-man, is in center). Then again, it would hardly be the first time Mattingly and Ned Colletti didn’t seem to be on the same page.

We’ll have to learn more about that, but Pederson sitting out tonight certainly seems like a lot more than simply a coincidence. (Unless it’s just Jody Reed, the Chattanooga manager, trolling everyone in a most remarkable fashion.) Some are already deciding that Puig is playing center for a few games so he can come replace Kemp — similar to how Scott Van Slyke was quickly pushed back to the outfield after a season of playing first base — and perhaps that’s true. But given that we heard just last week that the organization has had conversations about recalling Puig or Pederson even before Kemp’s hamstring went, it would be more than a little surprising to me if they tried to just get through the next few weeks with Herrera. (Though take note, as Bill Shaikin did, that Pederson is both slumping and having trouble against lefties.)

If Pederson really is on his way, then the next move really depends on Ellis. Moving him to the disabled list would be the easy (if depressing) option. But don’t forget as well that Hanley Ramirez will probably be activated on Monday, so there’s definitely moves to come. For those still hoping that the end of Luis Cruz‘ time is near, watch Jerry Hairston very closely tonight as he starts over Cruz and Juan Uribe at third. At the very least, at least the team probably made the right move in taking the decision to play out of Kemp’s hands.

In other minor-league news: Stephen Fife was activated from the disabled list and optioned back to Albuquerque, while in Chattanooga, third baseman C.J. Retherford was released so the team could activate Sean Burroughs. Yes, that Sean Burroughs.

Fri 10/11Sat 10/12Sun 10/13Mon 10/14Tues 10/15Wed 10/16Thurs 10/17
RR. Belisario9105
LJ.P. Howell152026
RK. Jansen51626
RC. Marmol26
RB. Wilson281411
RC. Withrow2544
RE. Volquez

Will Matt Kemp’s Truly Awful May End With a Disabled List Trip?

kemp_2013-05-10The trials and tribulations of Matt Kemp in 2013 just never seem to end, apparently. Just two days ago, we were here wondering if there was anything the Dodgers could or should do to help their struggling superstar regain his past form. Then he left early on Tuesday after taking a pitch off his right elbow, leading to numbness in his right hand, and left early again on Wednesday after straining his left hamstring. Add that to the ongoing concern about his shoulder and his overall performance, and he is, quite frankly, a mess.

At the moment, we are waiting to hear about the results of his hamstring MRI, but discussing what teams ought to do with player injuries is always a tricky subject. We’re not doctors — most of us, anyway — and even if we were, we do not have access to the player or their medical records. So to say that the Dodgers “must” do this or that with Kemp, from our perspective, comes across as not being fully informed, because we are not.

Still, we can speculate on what we know right now, and what we know is that the last few days have been just a disaster for Kemp in every possible way. On Tuesday morning, I said that I didn’t think simply sending Kemp to the disabled list was the best course of action, partially because sitting out wasn’t going to help his timing issues, and partially because the center field options behind him were so lousy. (Chad Moriyama echoes largely the same concerns about center field depth in a rundown today.) That was before the last two days, and so the thinking there has changed for me.

So no matter what, the Dodgers are in a bad spot. They can either keep running Kemp out there, getting poor performance from a banged-up player, or they can turn to players who are either not really center fielders (Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig), not really likely to do better overall than even 2013 Kemp is (Elian Herrera, Tony Gwynn, Matt Angle, Skip Schumaker), or potentially not really ready for the big leagues (Joc Pederson).

It’s a bad situation, and a fair share of this blame does need to land on Ned Colletti for not having a better backup plan than Schumaker considering the uncertainty about Kemp. (To be completely fair, however, I don’t remember very many of us making an excessive amount of noise about this over the winter.) But poorly planned or not, the games are going to go on, so they’re going to need to do something.

If it were up to me… I would probably put Kemp on the DL. I know, I’m not a doctor and all of that I said above. It’s just that it’s not about his shoulder any longer, it’s about his elbow and his hamstring too. We saw what happened last year when he tried to push through a hamstring problem, and we all know that this offense is only going to work with a productive Kemp at the center of it. The last thing we need right now is for him to exacerbate either of those issues. If two weeks away helps him “clear his head” or whatever garbage people like to throw out there, well, fine, though I don’t really think that less playing time is going to fix his swing.

If that’s the case, then I guess I would reluctantly call up Pederson. He’s probably not a center fielder either, long-term, though he’s at least been playing there in Double-A. That’s why I say Pederson over Puig; Puig is not a center field option, no matter how much people want him to be, and the fact that people simply gloss over that continues to shock me. There’s an argument to be made for Gwynn or Herrera, since both have shown the ability to provide solid defense in center, but again neither is very appealing. (The 40-man roster, which would need to accommodate Gwynn or Pederson, is not an issue since injured reliever Shawn Tolleson could easily be moved to the 60-day DL as he recovers from back surgery.)

Again, it’s a lousy spot to be in all around. For me, the primary goal is a healthy effective Kemp as soon as possible, and if that means erring on the side of caution here, so be it — even if the replacements leave much to be desired.

Dodgers @ Angels May 29, 2013: Capuano vs Weaver

angelstadiumIt’s going to take me a long time to get used to this new interleague schedule, I think. After two games at home against the Angels, the Dodgers hit the road for… two more games against the Angels. It’s just odd, really. It almost feels like the Freeway Series more than it does actual games in May that count.

But count they do, and as it is in an American League park we’ll see Chris Capuano and the returning Jered Weaver forgo the bats in favor of the designated hitter. Carl Crawford gets the honors for the Dodgers tonight, and I like taking the opportunity to keep him as fresh as possible. Scott Van Slyke gets another start in left field.

Dodgers
Angels
DH
Crawford
SS
Aybar
SS
Punto
CF
Trout
1B
Gonzalez
DH
Pujols
RF
Ethier
1B
Trumbo
CF
Kemp
RF
Hamilton
LF
Van Slyke
2B
Kendrick
2B
Schumaker
3B
Callaspo
C
A.Ellis
C
Ianetta
3B
Cruz
LF
Shuck

You’ll also notice some positive news on the injury front, since Nick Punto & Matt Kemp — who each left early with aches in the first two games of the series — return to the lineup. Hyun-jin Ryu apparently underwent an X-ray on his foot, which was surprising because there was little indication that he was hurting. According to Dylan Hernandez, Ryu “blocked a comebacker with his foot” during last night’s stellar outing, but the X-ray was clean and no one seems very concerned that he’ll miss any time.

As for the Angels, the gimpy Albert Pujols heads back to DH tonight, which means that Mark Trumbo has to play first base. With Peter Bourjos out with a hamstring injury and Vernon Wells in New York, the Angels are forced to turn to J.B. Shuck to play left. Shuck has performed well in limited duty for the Angels this year, hitting .304/.350/.380 in 103 plate appearances… but he also couldn’t get out of Triple-A for the Astros last season and was outrighted off the Houston 40-man roster in November. See? It’s not only the Dodgers.

Thanks to Ryu, the bullpen is fully rested tonight. Thanks, Hyun-jin!

Fri 10/11Sat 10/12Sun 10/13Mon 10/14Tues 10/15Wed 10/16Thurs 10/17
RR. Belisario9105
LJ.P. Howell152026
RK. Jansen51626
RC. Marmol26
RB. Wilson281411
RC. Withrow2544
RE. Volquez