Spring Training is a “walking contradiction, partly truth anmd partly fiction” as a song once said. On one hand you have a guy who might hit 10 HR and not make the team (Mitch Jones-I hope he DOES make it), and on the other hand you could have a guy who hits very little and makes it, because of the “experience” factor or some other reason. Yesterday, our pitchers had bad numbers – Kershaw was hit semi-hard, McDonald was bombed, Elbert threw one bad pitch for a HR and Garate and Leach, both prospects for the situational lefty position in the pen, were hammered. Still, it’s early and I saw flashes from all the pitchers. It was mostly location and working with a different catcher (Ausmus). Kershaw, who was throwing about 50% curveballs, leading me to belive that he was working on that pitch, did break off a few that were downright nasty. McDonald clearly had good stuff, but no location, and Elbert was perhaps throwing the hardest of all.
Mota will be valuable to us this year, and he pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam yesterday. The pitching will come around and if we need another starter by mid-season, we have the financial flexability to get one with the deferred money to Manny. Make no mistake, McCourt wants to win and knows that the time is now.
I have talked to a number of scouts for other teams and they are very impressed with our young arms. To a man, they all think our pitching will be exceptional this year. I actually think that the Dodgers are forcing their young pitchers to throw strikes right now as no batters were walked except two by leach in the 8th inning. Thier control was not great, but they were throwing in the strike zone (and the Giants were hitting it). Neither Kershaw, McDonald or Elbert walked anyone.
On offense, we looked much better, even though our A-Team did not play. Andre Ethier hit a big 2-run blast to the opposite field (he looks stronger, yet slimer). Hu and Castro hit shots that might have been out in Dodger Stadium (Camelback is cavernous), and Hu and Young both had 2 hits. Our final cust are going to be painful. I am assuming, that due to injury, Abreu will start at AAA, but Hu and Castro look very good. Hu is a defensive wizard. Period! Castro has lost some range, but is a solid player and great teammate. Mientkiewicz is versatile and can play 1B, 2B, 3B and RF as well as pinch hit – I think he’s a lock, as is Loretta. DeWitt is driving in runs and can play SS in an emergency as well as 2B and 3B. Casey Blake who is slated to hit 8th (a #8 hitter with 21 HR?-when did that last happen?), can also play multiple positions – 3B, 1B, LF, RF. Add Russ Martin to the mix as he can play 3B, so this team has lots of lineup possibilities.
One thing has come to light from a variety of sources: “Matt Kemp is a self-centered, all-knowing, 10-year vet who doesn’t like to listen to wisdom (sounds like me when I was 23). The oldtimers aren’t overly fond of him right now. That is a little unsettling! But, it could change.
I think that right now the Dodgers are looking for a deal for Juan Pierre. They would probably be willing to pay 50-60% of his salary in the right deal. How about Stults, Leach and Pierre for Jokim Soria (the Royals just signed Cruz and he can close)?
Here’s my current rostder standings:
1B,2B, SS, 3B
2B, SS, 3B
Could take Hu’s place
Can a 32-year old make it- he’s been great?
Can he re-invent himself?
He has a contract.
Looked good so far
He has the stuff to be a situational LH.
Has not looked good up until now.
Arm, speed, and versatility.
Injured again, but unknown.
Deserves to play in LA, needs AAA.
Someday his time will come.
He’s turning heads.
Has the tools to be a 5th OF.
For those who don’t think the economy is impacting baseball – there were 5,900 at Camelback Ranch yesterday (it holds 13,000). A lot of fans were disguised as “empty seats.” Here’s a shot in the 4th inning: