Adding An Outfielder to $400m Worth of Outfield

When you sit down and think about it, the Dodgers head into 2013 with one of the odder outfield alignments in recent history. In theory, it could be wonderful; if Carl Crawford can overcome both Tommy John surgery and two atrocious years in Boston, if Matt Kemp can stay a lot healthier than he did this year, and if Andre Ethier can avoid his usual trip to the DL and/or giant slump, this could potentially be one of the best groups in the game. (And if you’d been told in 2009 that you’d get to watch an outfield of Crawford / Kemp / Ethier, you’d probably keel over from sheer joy.)

But wait, there’s more. With an overstuffed infield, Jerry Hairston may be viewed mainly as an outfielder, and of course the positive initial reports on Yasiel Puig make us all anxious to see what he can do. (He will be in major league camp in spring, but his limited experience plus the fact that he missed the AFL with an elbow infection make me all but certain he’ll spend most of the year in the minors, though a late-season appearance isn’t out of the question.) Then there’s Tony Gwynn, signed for 2013 (though not currently on the 40-man roster) and 40-man outfielders Alex Castellanos & Scott Van Slyke, who each received their first taste of major league experience in 2012.

And yet… the Dodgers may still need an outfielder this winter. It seems odd to say, given how deep the group may be, but there’s obvious concerns. Crawford’s goal is to be ready for Opening Day, and he may yet do so. But it’s also just as likely that he needs a few weeks into the season to return, and then it’s anyone’s guess as to whether we’ll see the Crawford that earned that giant contract or the one who has massively underperformed it so far. Even if he is back to form, he’s never been able to hit lefties, with a career mark of .263/.309/.379. That’s an obvious problem for Ethier too, one which Don Mattingly finally seemed to acknowledge in 2012, and that’s why you arguably need two righty outfielders; Hairston alone may not be enough. (While no such concerns exist for Kemp, his shoulder procedure wasn’t exactly trivial, so there’s concern there too.)

So this puts the Dodgers in an interesting position. With three highly-paid outfielders and Puig on the way, they’re clearly not in the market for a big-ticket, long-term Josh Hamilton / Michael Bourn type. They need someone who fits the following narrow conditions:

1) Can play for a few weeks at a time if needed without embarrassing himself
2) Is willing to sign a one-year deal, perhaps two (or one with an option) at most
3) Is a righty hitter and does well against lefty pitching
4) Understands that if everything goes right, he won’t be starting every day

It’s that last part which makes things difficult. If not for that, a player like Torii Hunter would be a perfect fit, given that he is a righty who can play all three spots, prefers to stay in Los Angeles, won’t expect a long-term deal at his age, and may not find room in a crowded Anaheim outfield. But coming off a very good year, would he really accept a deal that may have him out of the starting lineup by May? It’s hard to think so, and if so, he might just prefer to stay with the Angels. Now that I think about it, Shane Victorino would fit that role as well, despite how much we all dislike him, but it won’t matter because he’s clearly looking for an everyday job in 2013. You could say the same about Cody Ross, and Melky Cabrera or even Josh Willingham, who is rumored to be on the trading block. A player who wants to be the unquestioned starter isn’t going to fit here.

So it puts you in something of a tough spot, needing to find a player who fits the first three conditions and is good enough to make giving him a roster spot worthwhile, yet is not so good that the potential of not starting every day isn’t a deal-breaker. As you might expect, that’s going to lead to a collection of players who are all flawed in some way. Some potential options, with 2013 age in parentheses…

I’ll take “two teams who won’t be able to repeat this magic next year for $600, Alex.” (from Keith on Flickr)

Jonny Gomes (32)

When I think “lefty masher”, I think Jonny Gomes. It’s just what he does, with huge platoon splits both in 2012 with Oakland (.974/.715) and over his career, dating back to 2003 with the Devil Rays (.894/.732). Gomes has hit 14 or more homers in seven of the last eight seasons, and he’s coming off the best year of his career with the magical A’s, putting up a .376 wOBA. The downside, of course, is that Gomes is a terrible fielder, and the A’s reacted accordingly, because of the 99 games he got into this year, only 28 were outfield starts, mostly in left field. That’s a concern for a National League team which won’t have the DH to stash him out – though it should be noted that with the new 15/15 AL/NL split, the Dodgers will need to fill the DH spot more than they’ve ever had to before – though it didn’t stop Gomes from playing in the NL with Cincinnati & Washington from 2009-11.

That lack of defensive ability is in large part what keeps Gomes affordable, making $1.75m with Cincinnati in 2011 and just $1m with the A’s last year. To be honest, I don’t think his poor fielding is as big of a problem with the Dodgers as it might be elsewhere. (Besides, we all lived through Bobby Abreu, didn’t we?) If Crawford isn’t ready to start the season, someone like Gwynn or Elian Herrera might stick on the roster and be available to take over for defense in late innings with a lead, in addition to Hairston. If Crawford is available, then he can certainly come in to games where Gomes has started against a lefty. When playing against AL teams, he’s an obvious designated hitter, and it’s not like Ethier doesn’t need support against lefties too.

It sounds like Gomes would like to return to Oakland, though that’s hardly the same thing as having it actually happen. The more I think about this, the more I like it.

Scott Hairston (33)

Whenever this topic comes up, Scott Hairston‘s name always seems to be mentioned. On the surface, a .299 OBP last year (not far off his .302 career mark) is far from appealing, though he did counterbalance that somewhat with a .504 SLG and 20 homers in his second season as a Met. Like Gomes, Hairston has a huge platoon split (.867/.739 this year, .825/.704 career), but unlike Gomes he brings some defensive utility, starting 86 games across all three outfield spots this year. He’s generally thought of as being average in left and slightly below in center & right, but it’s nice to have someone who can at least spot for Kemp now and then in center if needed, which at least alleviates the need for Gwynn.

Then, of course, there’s the obvious appeal of playing with his brother Jerry, which they did previously in 2010 with the Padres. Hairston has signed two $1.1m one-year deals with the Mets for each of the last two seasons, and it’s unlikely he’d be in line for a larger deal than that now. He’s not quite the lefty-basher Gomes is, but he’s much more usable in the field, so the choice between the two is what exact flavor of outfielder you’re looking for.

Reed Johnson (36)

We’ve been there and done that with Johnson, who hit .262 in 102 games with the 2010 Dodgers. Johnson went back to Chicago in 2011 and split last year between the Cubs & Braves, putting up a .798/.654 platoon split in 2012. (It’s .828/.703 for his career.) He saw time at all three outfield spots, but like Hairston was only graded as above-average in left. You can read about how we felt about Johnson’s time in Los Angeles here, but in retrospect the problem was largely that Joe Torre couldn’t manage to keep him as a platoon outfielder, giving him just as many plate appearances against righties as lefties. Johnson is likely to come cheap – perhaps even a minor-league deal – and wouldn’t be a terrible piece. He’s just not going to provide nearly as much offense as Gomes or Hairston, and somehow I doubt the difference between ~$500k and ~$1.5m is going to make the decision for this team.

Alex Castellanos (26)

What about staying internal? Castellanos tore up the PCL last season, impressively becoming one of the few guys there who actually hit better away from Albuquerque. Oddly, he’s shown something of a reverse split over the last two seasons (.961 vs LHP, .987 vs RHP) though it’s hard to say if that would continue in the majors. The main problem here is probably the continued uncertainty about his position. Castellanos spent most of the year in Triple-A trying to convert to second base before somewhat suddenly shifting to third base in August. In his limited time with the Dodgers, he exclusively played left & right field. To be honest, I’m not sure what the Dodgers have in store for him in 2013, though it would benefit his major league future greatly if he can make it work in the infield. I am intrigued by his bat, though I admit I don’t value him so highly that I’d be torn up about it if he was playing once or twice a week in the bigs rather than every day in Triple-A. It probably doesn’t matter; I doubt the Dodgers would give this role to him on Opening Day.

Of these options – and I’m just looking at free agent choices, though I suppose a trade could be made – Gomes is the clear favorite for me. Then again, the team could just decide that between Hairston, Gwynn, Van Slyke, & Castellanos, they have all the depth they need.

Who do you prefer? Are there other options? Let’s hear it.

Dodgers Facing An Extended Kemp-Free Existence

We don’t yet know the extent of how badly Matt Kemp has re-injured his hamstring, but a return to the disabled list seems like an absolute certainty. That’s actually underplaying it, considering Kemp was throwing around quotes like “it feels worse than the first time” and that he expects to be out for at least a month. That would conservatively cost the Dodgers his services well into July, and no matter how well the team played during his initial absence, you can’t replace a player of that caliber. You just can’t. We never expected this club to play .700 ball all season, and now we’ll get to see how they respond without Kemp as they fight their first slump of the season, having lost four of six and needing to beat Zack Greinke tonight to fend off their first sweep of 2012.

Still, it’s premature to say that all hope is lost, because this club looks a lot different than it did when Kemp was initially lost a month ago. I have a half-written draft I had been planning to run tomorrow for Juan Rivera‘s return, arguing that the lefty/righty/defense left field trio that flopped so miserably with Jay Gibbons, Marcus Thames, & Tony Gwynn last season could potentially be very productive with this year’s group of Bobby Abreu, Rivera, & Gwynn, if they were used correctly. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to be an issue now, but now Don Mattingly isn’t going to have to worry about having too many left fielders anymore. (For tonight, it remains to be seen whether Rivera will be activated a day early or if Jerry Sands or another Isotope heads back to the bigs.)

Gwynn, of course, will remain the primary center fielder, and his outstanding defensive skills represent an upgrade there over Kemp. He’s one of those guys who we can never seem to agree on regarding his bat – I’ll admit that every time I turn around, it seems like he’s getting a base hit, but he still has just a .318 OBP after two seasons of .304 and .308 – but his glove is so good that as long as he’s not a total zero at the plate, he’s useful. (Now, whether he should be the leadoff hitter simply because of some concept of “speed” is another matter entirely…)

In left, once Rivera is back, he and Abreu could in theory make for a solid platoon, as long as neither one ever, ever has to face same-handed pitching. You might also see Jerry Hairston out there occasionally, especially once Juan Uribe returns to handle some of the third base work, though I prefer him as an infielder, and Scott Van Slyke is still around.

Here’s a thought, though: Rivera alone isn’t enough to fill the right-handed needs of the bench. You need him at first base to spell James Loney against lefties – and let me repeat, Loney should never, ever be allowed to face lefties – and while you can live with Andre Ethier against them, having an all-lefty outfield of Abreu / Gwynn / Ethier against tough lefties (assuming Hairston is playing third) is a disaster waiting to happen. Sure, you could use Sands or Van Slyke in left or first, as Mattingly has been doing, but it’s pretty clear that neither is ready for the bigs right now and each would be better served by everyday play in Albuquerque. That doesn’t make the righty need any less, though, so I wouldn’t mind seeing the only other available righty member of the 40-man besides catcher Tim FederowiczAlex Castellanos.

Castellanos, as I’m sure you remember, was destroying the PCL before he suffered his own hamstring injury in late April and missed a month. He’s only been back for four games, so I admit this may be slightly premature, but he’s been outstanding, collecting seven hits – including three doubles and a homer. Had he not been injured himself, there’s almost no certainty that he would have been up long ago, before Elian Herrera, before Ivan De Jesus, perhaps before Sands & Van Slyke. He’s been working on a transition to second base, and while that’s still a work in progress, all indications are that it’s going well enough to keep at it, and the Dodgers of course have a massive hole at the keystone.

That’s not how I would use him, though, because it’s tough to think you can just stick him in every day at second in the bigs this early into his transition. Castellanos is by trade a corner outfielder, and has still seen some time there with ABQ this season, so he could be the righty partner that Rivera needs. Let him start against all lefties in left field while Rivera plays first, let him get in a game or two at second base a week, and hope that the bat carries the rest. It’s not ideal, but on a team that figures to be struggling for offense for a while, it might just be worth a shot.

Whether it’s Castellanos or someone else, it’s going to be impossible to cover the loss of Kemp, so strap in for a rough couple of weeks, because this puts even more pressure on players like Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and the pitching staff to perform. Best case scenario, from my perspective, they continue to tread water for the next few weeks, and then hopefully pick up the best trade deadline acquisition in the history of baseball when Kemp returns – hopefully, fully healthy this time. Judging by the quality of the rest of the division, they just might be able to pull it off.

Taking early stock of the Isotopes

While Mike is on vacation, he asked me to offer up some thoughts about the Albuquerque Isotopes and how what amounts to the Dodgers’ reserve team is shaping up as the season begins. The ‘Topes have only been home for a total of eight days so far this season — they begin their fourth road series of the year tonight at New Orleans (Marlins) — so this is all a very, very preliminary analysis of the 25 players I have observed.

Catchers Tim Federowicz and Josh Bard

FedEx is the man on the spot, the lone Isotope ranked by Baseball America in the Dodgers’ top 10 prospects. While plenty of fans are still smarting about last year’s trade that sent Trayvon Robinson packing and brought Fed and two pitchers to the organization, so far the young backstop is showing promise. “He’s been a lot better this year, he’s a lot more patient,” manager Lorenzo Bundy said of Fed’s hitting (.292/.365/.477). The swing-first, pull-everything mentality from last season is all but gone. Defensively he has looked sharp, making strong throws to second, blocking the plate well and doing a good job of working with the pitching staff. As for Bard, as the Isotopes’ oldest player (34, which makes him the only player on the team older than me … yikes), he has not played much, but he has played well, batting .385 (10-for-26). “Obviously, Josh with his experience … it’s like having an extra coach floating around here,” Bundy said. “He takes the leadership role. He knows his role on this club and he’s ready at any time.”

First baseman Jeff Baisley

Jeff Baisley has been a good presence in the lineup. (Photo courtesy of the Albuquerque Isotopes.)

The veteran slugger has played well so far, batting .313/.390/.531 with three homers and a team-leading 16 RBI. Though primarily a third baseman with Salt Lake (Angels) last season, he has handled first base well defensively and it clearly has not had an impact on his hitting. Personality-wise, he keeps it serious on the field and keeps it loose during batting practice and in the clubhouse. Though he is viewed as a leader, Baisley said he has not had to overly assert himself so far. He certainly continues the recent tradition of high-character veterans the Dodgers like to have in Albuquerque.

Second baseman Alex Castellanos

Though currently on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring (return date unknown), the converted outfielder has been solid so far at the plate (.366/.477/.746), while overcoming the defensive obstacles that come with returning to his old position. The big issue for Castellanos offensively lies with his ability to overcome his aggressive, swing-first mentality. In the field, throwing has been the biggest challenge, but after a week spent with Dodgers special instructors Juan Castro and Jody Reed (laugh about their hitting, but both were good in the field), Castellanos seems to be adapting quickly. Just calm down on the early promotion possibilities; Castellanos himself said he needs close to a full season playing every day at second base before he is ready for MLB.

Shortstop Luis Cruz

The wily veteran has been on “Cruz Control” since he arrived, smacking the ball around (.328/.343/.500) while making some sharp plays in the field. He is another veteran who keeps it loose; his imitation of teammate Trent Oeltjen‘s Australian accent is a sight to behold.

Third baseman Josh Fields

Nicknamed “QB” for obvious reasons, the former Oklahoma State football standout has gotten off to a quiet start (.289/.375/.526) when compared to his teammates. Nonetheless, he has been a solid contributor. This is no sign of the dreaded “jaded ex-big-leaguer stuck at Triple-A” disease that sometimes afflicts players. Much like Cruz, he seemed to be riding high off his strong spring that nearly saw him make the big-league roster. He has been a positive influence, playing good defense with (no surprise here) a very strong arm.

Utility man Elian Herrera

The versatile Elian Herrera has been a sparkplug atop the lineup. (Photo courtesy of the Albuquerque Isotopes)

Bundy said the Isotopes’ turnaround, from a 2-6 road trip to their current record of 11-9, has been thanks in part to the ultra-versatile Herrera. A pure contact hitter (.340/.357/.566), he is Albuquerque’s fastest player and has done well out of the leadoff spot. Defensively, he has looked especially sharp at second base and third base, while also seeing time at shortstop and the outfield. He would strictly be a bench player at the next level, but with Jerry Hairston and Adam Kennedy not getting any younger, the Dodgers could do worse.

Reserve infielders Joe Becker and Lance Zawadzki

Becker is a favorite of Bundy’s especially with his ability to deliver big hits in the clutch, often as a pinch hitter. He is also a capable defender at second, though he lacks the arm for third and has not played much shortstop. Zawadzki joined the team from extended spring on the last day of the homestand. While I have yet to see him play for the Isotopes, he was a solid defender and a streaky hitter last season with Omaha (Royals).

Outfielders Scott Van Slyke, Jerry Sands, Trent Oeltjen, Matt Angle

Van Slyke, the Dodgers’ No. 21 prospect, has been the hitting star out of this group (.364/.437/.610). He has fared well defensively in both outfield corners, with a strong arm and more mobility than you would expect from someone who is listed at 6-5, 250. He made one start at first base during the homestand, looking a little out of practice there, so hold off on the “he can replace Loney” talk. Oh, and I will sit him down to talk about his life growing up around baseball with his father. His stories are hilarious. Sands’ struggles at the plate (.192/.310/.315) have been well-documented so far. Oeltjen has played all three outfield spots, serving more as a fourth outfielder than anything else. As such, his hitting (.250/.328/.350) has yet to get into a groove with such sporadic playing time. Angle has been the lost one of the bunch, looking all out of sorts at the plate (.146/.255/.268) and now finding himself on the DL with a strained hamstring.

Starting pitchers Michael Antonini, John Ely, Stephen Fife, Fernando Nieve, Mike Parisi

John Ely has pitched well at home, not so well on the road. (Photo courtesy of the Albuquerque Isotopes)

Before his call-up to the big leagues, Antonini made one start in Albuquerque he would like to forget (3.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 HR allowed). Like many young pitchers, the 26-year-old lefty learned the hard way you have to keep the ball down in Albuquerque if you want to have a prayer of succeeding here. He certainly throws a lot of strikes, but he left too many up in that game. Despite being back for his third season with the Isotopes, Ely has remained upbeat and continues to work hard. He has been a completely different pitcher at home (13 IP, 4 ER) than on the road (7.1 IP, 11 ER). Fife has just plain struggled wherever he has pitched this year (1-2, 9.92 ERA). The big righty is a finesse pitcher and so far the PCL is chewing him up. Nieve went from horrible at Omaha (1.2 IP, 11 H, 9 ER) to solid at home (6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER) to then getting ejected in the third inning of his third start for hitting a batter. It has been a very bizarre season for the former Astro and Met, who throws hard but does not strike a lot of people out (8 total in 10.1 IP). Parisi has been the most consistent and effective starter to date. It should come as no surprise, since there always seems to be one veteran who puts together a solid campaign in ABQ (e.g. Dana Eveland last year).

Right-handed relievers Josh Wall, Ramon Troncoso, Will Savage, Francisco Felix

Wall has looked sharp while sharing closing duties. He throws in the mid-90s and looks like another potentially solid addition to LA’s young bullpen down the line. There is still some wildness (4 walks in 8.1 IP) that needs to be smoothed out. Troncoso has looked like a man determined to get back to the big leagues (1.08 ERA in 8.1 IP), while Savage has been lights out (4-0, 2.41) in the long relief/spot starter role, keeping the ball down and utilizing his cutter, fastball and curveball to their fullest extent. Felix, well, somebody has to take it on the chin, and so far he is doing just that (10.13 ERA in 13.1 IP). As the Dodger bullpen fluctuates, his head would seem to be the first on the chopping block down here.

Left-handed relievers Brent Leach, Wil Ledezma, Derrick Loop, Scott Rice, Cole St. Clair

Rice has been the star of the southpaw collective, sharing the team lead with four saves. He is at his most effective not when he is getting strikeouts, but rather when is able to get hitters to try and pounce on strikes, causing them to ground out and pop up early in the count. Leach (0-1, 6.57) has alternated between looking good and taking it on the chin; personality-wise he has not changed from his year in Japan, remaining the same funny, witty southerner who graced the clubhouse in 2009-10. St. Clair has been similar to Leach in terms of pitching, looking good one outing and struggling to throw strikes the next. Poor Ledezma was walloped in his first two home appearances (10 runs total), but has since settled down and regained his confidence. Loop has yet to appear in a game in Albuquerque.

Overall

This is a better team than it looked after losing six of eight on the opening road trip. The Isotopes pulled off their first four-game sweep since 2009 when they took Iowa apart. As long as the pitching stays at least somewhat consistent, the lineup is more than capable of scoring enough runs. What looked like a pack of spot starters, middle relievers and bench players actually has some players with enough talent (Van Slyke, Castellanos, Federowicz, in particular) to help the Dodgers out in the future. Rice and Wall can be both be part of a big-league bullpen, as well. This team may lack the star power when Gordon, Sands (the good version) and Robinson were here last year, but it is still a fun bunch to watch.

As always, you can find all the ‘Topes news and notes you can handle here and you can now follow me on Twitter as @TopesWriter for quick updates, anecdotes, breaking news and even some play-by-play during home games.

— Chris Jackson

Dodgers Add Five, Remove Ely & Monasterios

Today – by which I mean, about an hour from now – is the deadline to add eligible players to the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft, which takes place on December 8. I saw a lot of teams announce who they’d be adding this morning, but clearly the Dodgers took just about every minute available to them. As a reminder, eligible players who were not added to the 40-man roster are exposed to the draft, and if they’re selected they must stay on their new team’s 25-man roster (or disabled list) for the entire season – like Carlos Monasterios did in 2010.

Minor leaguers Scott Van Slyke and Alfredo Silverio were added a few weeks ago, and they’ll be joined by outfielder Alex Castellanos and pitchers Michael Antonini, Josh Wall, Chris Withrow, and Stephen Fife. Only Wall and Withrow were Dodger draftees; Castellanos came from the Cardinals in the Rafael Furcal deal, Antonini came from the Mets for Chin-lung Hu, and Fife came from Boston as a part of the Trayvon Robinson trade. Monasterios and John Ely were removed from the 40-man and outrighted to Triple-A, though that doesn’t necessarily mean their time with the Dodgers is over. That puts the 40-man roster at 38, at least until Hong-Chih Kuo is inevitably non-tendered, and Dana Eveland, Ramon Troncoso, Trent Oeltjen, and Jamie Hoffmann could all easily be removed if space becomes an issue.

Brandon Lennox at TrueBlueLA has a list of interesting eligible names who weren’t added, most of which will mean absolutely nothing to you:

Ethan Martin, Kyle Russell, Tony Delmonico, Jon Michael Redding, Cole St. Clair, Nick Buss, Jordan Roberts, Austin Gallagher, Andres Santiago, Chris Jacobs, Griff Erickson, Justin Miller, Tim Sexton, Jaime Pedroza, Matt Wallach, Pedro Baez, Geison Aguasviva, Rafael Ynoa, Carlos Frias, Bladimir Franco, Ramon Jean, Jose Dominguez, Daniel Tamares, Charlie Mirabal, Pedro Guerrero, Elian Herrera, Josh Walter, Steve Smith, Joseph Becker, Robert Booth

Not 100% sure on E Martin, but I do think he is eligible

While it may seem surprising to see interesting names like Erickson and Russell unprotected, remember, a team would have to carry such a player on their big-league roster all season, making them unlikely to take such a risk. To be honest, the name that stands out there to me is lefty Cole St. Clair, who has struck out 187 in 176.1 minor-league innings, with a 46/13 K/BB in Double-A last year. He’s occasionally been mentioned as someone who might be a depth piece for the Dodger bullpen last year, so it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if a pitching-needy team snaps him up. (That goes for Martin as well, though as Lennox mentions, I’m unsure of his eligibility.)

Two Quick Thoughts on a Saturday Night

…if only because I’ve been traveling for a few days and I’m sick of looking at the shortstop review as the most recent post.

Ken Gurnick at dodgers.com with an interesting thought:

Alex Castellanos, 25, OF, 10th-round pick in 2008 by St. Louis: Acquired in the Rafael Furcal trade, Castellanos is already off to a hot start, with three homers in seven games. Mattingly said Castellanos might be tried at second base after playing primarily in right field, although he started his pro career as an infielder. As a hitter, his 23 homers and 102 runs scored this year have management intrigued. He was the Texas League runner-up in batting (.319) and slugging (.562).

Snap judgement: this isn’t what you think it is. I’ve seen some suggestions that Castellanos may be lined up to help fill the second base hole, but I think it’s the opposite. Despite his sexy 2011 stats in the hitter-friendly Texas League, Castellanos turns 26 next year and didn’t get above A-ball until his fourth minor-league season, leading to most prospect hounds referring to him as a possible fourth or fifth outfielder when he was first acquired from St. Louis. Though he played multiple positions in his first two seasons, including second and third, he’s been almost exclusively a right fielder in 2010 and ’11, which doesn’t say much about his skill in the infield; generally, if you’re going to put up with subpar defense from a middle infielder, you’re going to need him to hit like a Dan Uggla or Jeff Kent. Sounds like more of a “if you want a chance at the bigs, you need something more to offer than what you currently have” than a “we value your bat so highly that maybe you can fill a hole” move to me.

That said, it’s exactly the kind of move the team should be making. Is it likely that Castallenos can play a passable big league second base? Probably not. But it’s also unlikely, from what I’ve read, that he hits enough to be an everyday outfielder, so there’s little downside in a move like this. (Which, we should note, isn’t even certain; it merely says that he “might be tried” at second base.) For the record, while I thought he was an intriguing return considering how low Furcal’s value was, I’m biased against him if only because every time I try to look up information on him I inevitably end up reading about the political scumbag of the same name.

Second, and this is just pure 100% speculation from MLB Trade Rumors

Dodgers: Ned Colletti can either activate an out clause in his contract after 2012, or 2012 is actually the last year on his deal.  Either way, the general manager will likely be pursued by the club to sign an extension given how competitive the Dodgers were this season in the wake of the ongoing ownership mess.  Of course, Colletti could choose to leave given the uncertainty with the McCourts.

I’ll leave that one to you guys.