Well, if you ask me… and you didn’t (but I’m going to tell you anyway), it’s Young Clayton. Maybe it’s a rush job, but maybe it’s not. Maybe he’s ready. Not “maybe” – he ISready! I think it’s likely that Clayton Kershaw will be even better this year. His ERA might not reflect that, but he will pitch deeper into games and flirt with 20 wins this year. After Clayton, will come Chad Billingsley, followedby Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla, with the 5th Spot being Eric Stults to lose.
Unless Charlie Haeger is a disaster during the spring, he will battle Jeff Weaver for the “swingman” spot in the pen. The rest of the bullpen is less clear. We do know that Jon Broxton, George Sherrill, Ramon Troncoso, Hong chih Kuo and James McDonald will probably all make the team barring injury. I just can’t see Weaver and Haeger both making the team, as they are competing for the same position, but if it comes down to it, they will keep Charlie and send Jeff to AAA (at least for a few weeks under the guise of building arm strength).
That leaves a lot of pitchers up for grabs, including Ronnie Belisario, whom Joe Torre may want to demote for a while after his Visa problems two years in a row. We also have Cory Wade, who could flat-out make the team out of Spring training, and Carlos Monasterios (who could be bought or have another player sent to his former team, and demoted). Lindblom, Zerpa, Miller, Towers and Elbert all seem slated for AAA.
While it would be a “feel good” story and great if it happened, the odds are against Eric Gagne making the team. Would he accept an assignment to AAA? Maybe for a few weeks, but hey, this is Spring – anything can happen.
Let’s not forget, however, that there is always a pitching surprise. Belisario was the big one last year. Who will it be this year?
Rants & Raves
- I keep thinking about it and I can’t see Brian Giles or Doug Mientkiewicz making the team, especially if Xavier Paul has a rousing Spring
- Ronnie Belliard has to weigh below 210 pounds tomorrow – if he doesn’t, is he off the team. At any rate, I don’t see him as a starter. He’s a role-player (like last year).
- Russ Martin will be the All-Star Catcher in the NL this year – Write that down!
- Oh, and in case you don’t understand – I still say Clayton Kershaw will be our Opening Day Starter.