The MSTI Master Plan for Third Base

Over at the Big Blue Wrecking Crew, my preferred Dodgers discussion board, a discussion began recently which really pointed out the amazing progression of the third base situation over the last six weeks or so. We’ve gone from having the main two competitors getting hurt in the same game; to scanning the trade winds for anyone resembling a third baseman; to having an untested rookie forced into a situation which he had no business being in; to now having a surplus in the coming days.

So let’s take a look at what’s going to happen here in the near future. With Blake DeWitt having the 2nd-best OPS on the team and a sterling glove, how can we really send him down? Now that Andy LaRoche is healthy and hitting well in Vegas, how long can we keep him down there? What to do about Nomar Garciaparra, who is likely to begin a short rehab assignment this week? Finally, Terry Tiffee is still hitting .430/.471/.630 in Vegas, and just how long does he have to keep that up before we consider this more than a fluke?

Let’s go with the process of elimination. 

I like Terry Tiffee as much as anyone, but while I’m more than willing to dump Mark Sweeney and bring him up to be a bat off the bench, what he’s doing is so far off his career history that I can’t really see him as a real option to be the everyday starter. That said, I don’t particularly like the idea of letting this guy waste the hottest streak of his life in the minors, so I’d like to either bring him up or try to trade him – but I’m not exactly ready to install him as “the guy”. So he’s out.

Then there’s Nomar. He’s cooked. There’s no way around it. He’s probably the 4th best hitter right now of the 4, and while I guess I really have no idea how good of a defensive 3B Tiffee is, I think I can safely say Nomar’s 3rd at best of the 4, behind DeWitt and LaRoche. Look, I know we all like the guy. Angelenos love him because he’s a local boy, and I personally enjoyed his dominance for years, as his peak coincided with my college years spent in Boston. But he had a 78 OPS+ in 2007, and in between two DL stints already, he’s at 66 this year. (Remember, 100 is the league average for that year. This means he’s 34% worse than your average NL hitter this year.) It’s tough for everyone to admit it, but he can’t hit, field, or stay healthy.  But he does have the biggest name, and makes by far the most money – so of course I have no doubt he’ll get the most playing time when he’s healthy.

Really, to me, it’s between Andy LaRoche and Blake DeWitt. I think we all agree that LaRoche has the higher ceiling, but how do you move DeWitt when he’s got the 2nd highest OPS on the team? Think about that for a second: other than Rafael Furcal, who is probably one of the top 5 players in baseball thus far in 2008, Blake DeWitt has the highest OPS on the Dodgers. Plus, I know I’ve been through these stats before but they continue to amaze me every single time:

Blake Dewitt, 2008, as compared to all MLB 3B with at least 75 at-bats
BA: .323 (3rd)
OBP: .398 (5th)
SLG: .479 (8th)
OPS: .877 (5th)
Range Factor: 3.42 (1st)
Zone Rating: .835 (5th)
VORP: 9.2 (6th)

Remember, that’s in all of Major League Baseball. Do you remember at the beginning of the season when we seriously wondered if he’d be able to manage .200, whether the crushing disappointment he was sure to receive at the MLB level would torpedo the entire rest of his career, and whether we could possibly live with such a player until Nomar/LaRoche were healthy? Now he’s practically an All-Star. Right now, I just cannot see moving DeWitt. Will he keep it up? Who knows? But at this point, anything is possible.

However, we also can’t just let LaRoche sit in AAA; he obviously has nothing left to prove there. He’s also proving that he’s healthy; in 12 games in Las Vegas, he’s got a .324/.500/.676 line with 4 homers and a fantastic 2/12 K/BB ratio. Leaving him there is letting a good talent stagnate, and he deserves his shot in the majors too.

So what to do? You can’t move DeWitt, yet you can’t deny LaRoche his chance any longer. Here’s what I do: absolutely nothing until Rafael Furcal proves he is healthy. In the meantime, get LaRoche some playing time at 2B in Vegas. No, I’m not so sold on DeWitt that I’m willing to tell LaRoche he’s completely off of third base, but as a college SS it’d be worth it to see if he can handle it – I’ll explain this more in a second. Once Furcal is back and shows he can play every day, send down Chin-Lung Hu and activate Nomar; DFA Mark Sweeney and bring up LaRoche. This benefits Hu by letting him play SS every day in preparation for an everyday gig in 2009, either in LA if Furcal isn’t signed or elsewhere if he is. This also benefits the Dodgers by no longer having Mark Sweeney taking up a roster spot – he’s hitting .154 (4-26) and provides no defensive value whatsoever. On a team with a roster crunch like this squad is about to have, there’s just no place for a dedicated pinch-hitter who can’t even do that.

If LaRoche shows he’s not a total butcher at 2B in AAA (I don’t believe he would be, as he was a college SS, and besides, Delwyn Young did start at 2B on Sunday and there’s no way he’s worse than that) we get him time at both 2B and 3B. I agree with those who say that a week or two at 2B in the minors isn’t enough for a full fledged position switch, but he just has to be Kent’s caddy there, not an everyday thing. Figure DeWitt starts 4-5 days a week at 3B, LaRoche gets 2-3 starts a week at 3B, 1 at 2B, and more time subbing for Kent in the late innings.

Here’s the tricky part: it makes Nomar our backup SS (and 1B, without Sweeney, which is fine by me). When Furcal is healthy, he plays every single day. I’m sure Nomar’s not great at SS these days, but I think I could live with a former All-Star at the position having to play there, in a very limited capacity, every once in a while. If anything happens to Furcal where we need more than a one-day replacement at SS, Hu is only a short trip away in Vegas. Where Terry Tiffee remains in this scenario, I suppose, as even more depth if (okay, when) Nomar hurts himself again.

And hey, after writing this but before posting it, I see Ken Gurnick agrees with me!

What would you do when Garciaparra returns?
– Glen W., Hollywood, Calif.

Assuming DeWitt continues to handle the position well, I would turn Garciaparra into the versatile utility infielder that the Dodgers desperately need. During the offseason, when it was assumed that LaRoche would make a strong bid for the starting third-base job, Garciaparra was being readied for moving all around the infield. Clearly, second baseman Jeff Kent at age 40 needs more rest than in earlier years. Rafael Furcal just missed a week with a bad back and the offense really sputtered without him. Garciaparra’s ability to play all four infield positions would make it easier for the Dodgers to keep 12 pitchers. Plus, Garciaparra has been injured repeatedly since coming to the Dodgers and spot duty might help him avoid injuries. And regardless of DeWitt’s relative inexperience, he’s done nothing to show that he doesn’t deserve to keep playing.

The benefits of this plan include:
* Seeing if Blake DeWitt keep this performance up; if not, simply stop playing LaRoche at 2B and recall Hu
* Finding out if Andy LaRoche can prove he can hit in the majors
* Discovering if LaRoche can prove to be adequate at 2B; if so, we might have our post-Kent plan right there
* Letting Chin-Lung Hu play every day in AAA rather than man the bench in the bigs
* Relegating Nomar to backup 1B/3B/SS/vet bat off the bench, which is really where he ought to be anyway
* Upgrading the offense from the bench (Hu/Sweeney to Nomar/LaRoche is just no comparison)
* Improving defensive flexibility, as we’d have three 3B candidates instead of our current one, and Sweeney is almost a non-factor in the field anyway.

Really, the only downsides here are a defensive downgrade off the bench, as obviously Hu is far superior to anyone else, and the possibility of Nomar being unhappy with his bench position. I suppose you could also point out that losing Sweeney’s left-handed bat and replacing him with two right-handed bats hurts the pinch-hitting strategies, but I find that to be a non-issue as Young is a switch-hitter and either Either or Pierre are usually on the bench anyway.

As for me, I love this plan so much that I know it will NEVER EVER HAPPEN.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

Furcal for MVP! Plus, Nomar’s Back…

After getting shut out on Sunday by San Diego, and kicked in the stomach by Pittsburgh on Monday, how welcome was last night’s romp? Matt Kemp – who as you may or may not have noticed, I have advocated allowing to play – scored three times. James Loney has now hit in every game this year (that’s 14 in a row, longest to start a season for LA since Steve Garvey in 1978. I believe “14 in a row in 1978″ was also Steve’s record for stewardesses, but we’ll save that for another time). Russell Martin finally gets something going with his first home run of the year, and even Andruw Jones showed some life with two hits. And what can you say about Rafael Furcal after a 2-5, 2 RBI night that pushes his average up to .364? Well, there’s this:

2008 MLB Leaders in VORP:
1. Rafael Furcal SS LAD 11.5
2. Hanley Ramirez SS FLO 11.4
3. Nate McLouth OF PIT 11.1
4. Pat Burrell OF PHI 10.9
5. Albert Pujols 1B STL 10.8

Is it too early to start the “Rafael for MVP” chant? For tonight’s game, Andre Ethier is going to sit in favor of Juan Pierre, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, but since Ethier has yet to sit even once this year, I can’t get too worked up about that.

But here’s where things may get interesting. We have Nomar news, also from Hernandez:

Back in Los Angeles from a minor league rehabilitation assignment, Nomar Garciaparra is set to be activated in time for a five-game trip that begins Friday in Atlanta.

“You have steps throughout the whole process to get back and I’ve taken every step,” Garciaparra said. “Now, it’s go out there and play.”

Great! I’ve been more than thrilled with Blake DeWitt, but since the team obviously doesn’t view Chin-Lung Hu as more than an emergency option at 3B, DeWitt has played every single inning at the hot corner thus far. Think about that for a second – there is no Dodger who has played more this season than Blake DeWitt, other than James Loney, who has also played every single inning at his position. Mind-blowing. Anyway, I think this team could use the infield depth, not only to have another viable 3B option, but also because Loney can’t play every inning all year either, and Torre has already said he’d prefer not to start Mark Sweeney and lose his bat off the bench, going so far as to have Ethier take grounders at 1B in practice. I don’t think any of us want to see that experiment, so Nomar will come up, hopefully get some time at both corners (I’m thinking, two starts a week at 3B and one at 1B?), and keep everyone happy and healthy. Right?

Garciaparra said his preference would be to play “every single day.”

Oh. I suppose I can’t blame him for saying that; would you really want a guy who admits he doesn’t want to play every day? The thing is, DeWitt’s actually been surprisingly good. DodgerThoughts does a good job of breaking down the supposed “success” of DeWitt this year vs. the supposed “failure” of Andy LaRoche last season – although I might add, it seemed to me that most of the people who considered LaRoche’s debut to be poor were those who only look at batting average as an evaluation tool.

As for the corresponding roster move, Tony Jackson, on his blog, says:

And although I have been hinting that DeWitt is going back to the minors when Nomar comes off the DL, it now looks like they are at least considering keeping him and cutting back to 11 pitchers temporarily. That would almost certainly mean Ramon Troncoso is the odd man out.

Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t that the only possible move? There’s no way you can send down DeWitt just yet. Even if Nomar is handed the everyday third base job, which I can’t imagine happening right off the bat, the Dodgers obviously have no other third base solutions. There’s simply no way you can count on the fragile Nomar to play every single inning. With Tony Abreu suffering yet another setback (is it possible he’s going to make Nomar look like an ironman?) and Andy LaRoche just about to start his rehab assignment, DeWitt can’t possibly go anywhere. If he’s sent down, he has to stay down for ten days, and that’s a scary proposition to have to count on Nomar to be able to handle all of that immediately. It’s not that any of this is groundbreaking; I’m just surprised that Jackson would even consider that DeWitt gets sent down until LaRoche or Abreu are available.

Also, Joe Torre has an Iphone? I don’t know why that thought entertains me so much.

Finally, just to throw fuel on the fire, take it away, Buster Olney!

Nomar Garciaparra has rejoined the Dodgers, but if he doesn’t play regularly — and he says within this piece that he wants to play every single day — you wonder how long this situation will last. Blake DeWitt has done a nice job at third base, and you wonder if it would be best all for all involved for the Dodgers to cut ties with Garciaparra and move on.

Buster, I still don’t really have a problem with Nomar saying that – that’s what he has to say. Besides, this team is in absolutely no position to start dumping third basemen. Plus, as much as I like to be objective and focus on the stats, cutting Nomar would be a pretty big PR hit for a team that doesn’t need any right now. Here’s what I’d do when the injured start returning:

1. Nomar comes off the DL, Troncoso goes down. Nomar gets two starts a week at 3B and is available to give Loney a breather at 1B.
2. LaRoche comes off the DL, DeWitt goes down. DeWitt gets to play every day in the minors, which he wouldn’t with both LaRoche and Nomar around. LaRoche gets the majority of starts at 3B, Nomar available to spell both infield corners.
3. Abreu comes off the DL (assuming this ever happens), Hu goes down. Abreu’s now your middle infield backup, and Hu gets to play every day in AAA, which, considering how high I am on him, is very important, as I think he might be stagnating a little sitting on the bench every day in the bigs.
4. To get back to 12 pitchers: cut Mark Sweeney. I know, I know: Torre loves his veteran bat off the bench. Well, guess what? Sweeney has 1 hit in 10 pinch-hitting at-bats. He’s yet to touch his glove. Dump Sweeney, and make Nomar the new Big Sexy.

Of course, since this is what I’m proposing, none of it will actually happen.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

This Keeps Getting Better and Better

025-01054fd.jpgSince I last discussed the increasingly bizarre infield situation, things had seemed to clear up a little bit. Tony Abreu, who’s been playing more and looking good this week, would start at 3B, and Chin-Lung Hu would fill in at 2B for a few days until Jeff Kent was ready. Not the optimal situation, but these guys would be starters on plenty of teams, so to have them be our last resorts isn’t the end of the world.

All is well. What? 

Tony Jackson, fill us in:

Tony Abreu to begin the season on the DL

He felt something in his right groin after one of his at-bats against the Brewers on Tuesday. The move can be backdated to Wednesday, which means he won’t be eligible to play until April 11 against the Padres. Not sure what it means for third base except that Blake DeWitt now might actually, truly be a candidate for the opening-day roster. That would mean a whole lot of other things, too, mostly that his calendar would be moved up a year so that he would run out of options a year earlier, would become eligible for arbitration a year earlier, etc., because as of right now, he doesn’t even have to be added to the 40-man roster until next winter. If he is added to the opening-day roster, all of that changes. If you assume Rudy Seanez was released to make room on the 40-man for Chan Ho Park, then this probably means another spot will have to be cleared to make room for DeWitt.

Ugh. This is simply unbelievable – who loses the top three on their depth chart in one position in one spring training? How many times can I keep making Spinal Tap drummer jokes? Now paging Esteban German… but not Inge, Crede, Giles, or Helms.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

You Can’t Really Dust For Vomit, You Know

Marty DiBergi: Now, during the Flower People period, who was your drummer?
David St. Hubbins: Stumpy’s replacement, Peter James Bond. He also died in mysterious circumstances. We were playing a, uh…
Nigel Tufnel: …Festival.
Nigel Tufnel: And, uh, it was tragic, really. He exploded on stage.
Derek Smalls: Just like that.
David St. Hubbins: He just went up.
Nigel Tufnel: He just was like a flash of green light… And that was it. Nothing was left.
David St. Hubbins: Look at his face.
Nigel Tufnel: Well, there was…
David St. Hubbins: It’s true, this really did happen.
Nigel Tufnel: It’s true. There was a little green globule on his drum seat.
David St. Hubbins: Like a stain, really.
Nigel Tufnel: It was more of a stain than a globule, actually.
David St. Hubbins: You know, several, you know, dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It’s just not really widely reported.

Great – all we need now is for Tony Abreu to die in a bizarre gardening accident. Anyway, remember all those times recently we’ve discussed the cursed third base situation here? Well, don’t expect it to end any time soon, because now the wrist Nomar took a pitch off of has been revealed to have “a microfracture”, which means either:

the Los Angeles Dodgers’ third baseman might not be ready for opening day. (Foxsports.com)

or

Nomar could swing bat by weekend (Ken Gurnick, MLB.com)

Well then. I’m glad we’re all in agreement here. Oh, what’s that Gurnick adds?

The location of Garciaparra’s microfracture is on top and the opposite side of the wrist from where it was struck by a Kyle McClellan fastball, which makes this injury hauntingly similar in location to that suffered by former Dodgers outfielder Jayson Werth in Spring Training 2005.

Oh good. We all remember how quickly Werth bounced back from that, and it’s not like Nomar has a fragile reputation or anything – or a prior history of wrist injuries. Or is coming off an awful season even before getting hit by this pitch.

I think it’s pretty obvious that even if Nomar is ready for Opening Day, he simply cannot be counted on for full-time duty. But Tony Abreu’s only made it into 3 games this spring, so he can’t be counted on either. Let’s bounce around the blogosphere, starting with new it-boy Blake DeWitt, the talk of camp with his .571 SLG this spring. DodgerThoughts:

Blake DeWitt has also been mentioned by some, but considering how recently the guy was in A ball, it just strikes me as too huge a leap for him to make. Consider that the Dodgers are hesitant to do the same thing with Clayton Kershaw, then ask yourself whether it makes sense to throw DeWitt to the major-league wolves at this stage.

I’m not really worried about the Kershaw comparison, because it’s such a different situation – the Dodgers have a few decent 5th starter options, and are getting absolutely desperate at third base. But on the whole, I tend to agree that DeWitt’s not ready for the bigs, and so does ESPN.com’s Rob Neyer:

DeWitt’s just not ready. He spent most of last season in the Class A California League before moving up to Double-A. Also, he wasn’t great at either level, and in 128 games he drew 27 walks and struck out 88 strikeouts. The major league wolves would eat him alive.

Speaking of Neyer, what’s his idea?

Not Hu, though. He may be a shortstop — and by all accounts a good one — but last year he hit like a third baseman, posting .500-plus slugging percentages in both Double- and Triple-A. If Rafael Furcal wasn’t earning $13 million this season, Hu would be in line right now for the everyday shortstop job. Instead he’ll have to wait until next year. In the meantime, though? He should play third base until LaRoche is ready. And shortstop once every week or two. And second base when Jeff Kent’s hammy aches like it’s 40 (which it is). Hu is 24, he’s already played well in Triple-A, and he might as well serve his apprenticeship this year in the majors.

This isn’t exactly a terrible idea. I think my main reluctance towards it is just a general malaise at seeing this team continually having to play out-of-position stopgaps at 3B. The point about him being able to play 2B is a good one though, as Kent is still down.

There’s also outside the organization. Andrew at True Blue LA agrees with my posting of last week that Royals IF Esteban German isn’t a bad option if reasonably priced. I can’t possibly reiterate my complete disgust to Brandon Inge any further (short version: can’t hit! expensive! three year deal! Tigers want bullpen help!). Fortunately for all of us, today’s Detroit Free Press acknowledges that Inge is most likely off the Dodgers’ radar screen.

Joe Crede’s far more palatable with just one year on his deal, but he’s still coming off a major back injury, hasn’t hit much in spring training, and can’t play any other positions.

Seems to me, the best options, in order of preference, are:

1) Trade for Joe Crede (if we can send Pierre to Chicago!)
2) Play Chin-Lung Hu and/or Tony Abreu, if he’s available.
3) Trade for Esteban German
4) Trade for Joe Crede (without sending Pierre to Chicago)

I can’t even bring myself to put Inge on the list at all, and DeWitt is far too unlikely.

Perhaps the most viable option is putting all the team’s resources into that DeLorean, so we can go back in time two weeks and encase Andy LaRoche in frozen carbonite until Opening Day?

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

I Can’t Believe We’re Looking For a Third Baseman

Remember those oh-so-heady times of, say, a week ago? We had one third baseman too many! We had two third sackers both hitting .350 or above! What were we to do with all those third basemen?

Ugh; how quickly things can change. So now not only is Andy LaRoche out for 8-10 weeks, but Nomar still isn’t playing after being hit by a pitch, and nominal backup Tony Abreu is still hurting enough that he’s got to go back to Philadelphia to visit his doctor after playing in only one game this spring. As Tony Jackson says,

Tony Abreu went back to the doctor in Philadelphia, Dr. William Meyers, who surgically repaired Abreu’s sports hernia last Oct. 3. The visit was scheduled because Tony continues to experience abdominal issues, as well as the right buttocks strain he suffered in the one game he played this spring. Club officials aren’t sure how to respond to this because Abreu, according to sources, isn’t very good at communicating what he is feeling physically, and that goes way beyond the fact that he doesn’t speak much English. At any rate, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Dodgers need to get a 3B from outside the organization, especially with Nomar still not able to play and with Blake DeWitt having failed to make two plays in today’s game, one a liner over his head that he didn’t really jump for and the other a hot one-hopper that skipped past his glove and up the line for a double.

Fantastic. With that in mind, I thought we’d take a look around the bigs for available third basemen. I’m sure we’ll be hearing plenty more about Joe Crede (no, thanks) and Brandon Inge (NO!), but what else is out there? Around the majors we go! Let’s assume that we’re looking for someone with at least some MLB experience, and not a prospect. Also, no one in the NL West is going to help us.

Arizona – within division
Atlanta – they’re not moving Chipper Jones, and have no vet backup we could use.
Baltimore - If the Orioles are smart, they’d be thrilled to send us Melvin Mora. And since Andy McPhail took over, the O’s seem to be in full-fledged rebuilding mode, so I’m sure he’s high on their list to move. However, he’s got a full no-trade clause, so he might not want to move, and he’s due $18 million over the next two seasons. Plus, he’s 36 and his numbers have nose-dived the last two seasons.. no thanks. 
Boston – they’re not moving Mike Lowell, and have no vet backup we could use.
Chicago (AL) – ah, yes. Joe Crede. Still not interested. derosabatshatter.jpg
Chicago (NL) - they’re not trading Aramis Ramirez, but here’s an interesting name I haven’t seen come up: what about Mark DeRosa? He’s nominally their starting 2nd baseman, but they constantly appear to be on the verge of getting Brian Roberts from the Orioles. DeRosa played 37 games at 3B last year and 40 the year before in Texas, plus he’s got great positional flexibility – he’s seen time at every position save for catcher and centerfield. He’s not cheap at $4.75 million this year and $5.5 next year, but he can actually play (dig the .357 and .371 OBPs the last two years), and his defensive flexibilty could really make him useful even if we get back to our 3B logjam. I might like this one. He did have to get a minor heart procedure this spring, but is apparently going to be fine.
Cincinnati – probably not going to trade Edwin Encarnacion. Ryan Freel’s probably available, and like DeRosa can play all over, but he’s never once had even a league average OPS, and last year put up a brutal .308 OBP. No thanks.
Cleveland – Casey Blake just signed for $6.1 million this year, plus they don’t really have a good backup. Nah.
Colorado - within division
Detroit – Brandon Inge! I’m already sick of typing your name. And I still don’t want to trade for you.
Florida – Please. Their 3B situation right now is between Dallas McPherson, Jorge Cantu, and Jose Castillo. Who are we going to play at 3B? Who are they going to play at 3B?
Houston – Ty Wigginton? Unlikely. Perhaps Mark Loretta? He’s got some 3B experience, but not a ton. Plus, he’ll be 37 in August, which is fine for a short-term fix, but he hasn’t had even an average OPS since 2004. Not exciting.
Kansas City – Hey, maybe they’ll send us Alex Gordon! Esteban German is an option, as was discussed here the other day.
Los Angeles (AL) – Like they’d deal with us. And, like we’d want Chone Figgins.
Milwaukee – They’re not going to move Bill Hall, but hey – maybe we can get Craig Counsell! That worked out so well the first time.
Minnesota – Mike Lamb just signed as a free agent this offseason, so he can’t be dealt yet.
New York (AL) – What’s more unlikely, the Yankees sending us A-Rod or Colletti wanting Betemit back?
New York (NL) – I would be more than happy to take David Wright off their hands.
Oakland – I think we’re safe from the Chavez rumors, because we need someone ASAP, and he’s probably not going to be ready to start the season.
Philadelphia – I’ve seen Wes Helms’ name thrown around recently, because he’s stuck behind Pedro Feliz in Philly now. But is he the guy who OPS’d .965 in Florida in 2006… or .665 in Philadelphia last year? Not thrilled on this one.
Pittsburgh – Jose Bautista? Snore. He’s got some pop, I guess, but his stats paint the picture of an entirely uninteresting player.
San Diego - within division
San Francisco – within division
St. Louis – they just got Troy Glaus, and no one decent behind him.
Seattle – Adrian Beltre back in Blue? So tempting. But that’s a little more of a big ticket item than I think we’re looking at right now, and besides, Seattle has no one behind him.
Tampa Bay - Think Evan Longoria’s probably not available? Interestingly enough, the two names behind him on the depth chart? Willy Aybar and Joel Guzman.. I’m thinking “no”.
Texas – Hank Blalock is a name that’s been tossed around for over a year now, but he is the starter in Texas, and I’d be shocked if they wanted to deal him right now.
Toronto – Just got Rolen. No one behind him.
Washingon – Zimmerman’s certainly not going anywhere. Ron Belliard’s on the radar, but I’m not huge on him as discussed previously.

So where does that leave us? Inge and Crede are both very available and have had their success in the past, but aren’t without their warts, and most Dodger fans don’t really want to see them here. I like Esteban German as infield depth and to spell Nomar and Kent, but if the Dodgers are looking for more than just someone to fill in, he might be overexposed.

I think I might go after Mark DeRosa. But since that can’t happen until the Roberts-to-Chicago deal finally goes down, it might take the Dodgers interceding to make it a three-way swap. That said, this is just me speculating – I haven’t heard anything that says the Cubs would even be interested in dealing DeRosa, but I’d have to think that he’s pricy to be stuck behind Roberts and Ramirez.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg