Top o’ the lineup to ya

While I might do unconventional things with batting orders to try to maximize offense, I’m not someone who gets worked up a whole lot about them. With some batting order discussion taking place on the first day of Spring Training for the Dodgers, I’ll offer my two cents, and then probably leave the subject alone.

Projected Dodger
Opening Day
batting order

L Dee Gordon, SS
R Mark Ellis, 2B
R Matt Kemp, CF
L Andre Ethier, RF
R Juan Rivera, LF
L James Loney, 1B
R Juan Uribe, 3B
R A.J. Ellis, C
L Clayton Kershaw, P

Alternative Dodger
Opening Day
batting order

L Dee Gordon, SS
R A.J. Ellis, C
L Andre Ethier, RF
R Matt Kemp, CF
L James Loney, 1B
R Juan Rivera, LF
R Juan Uribe, 3B
L Clayton Kershaw, P
R Mark Ellis, 2B

We start off with Tuesday’s news that Dodger manager Don Mattingly said Dee Gordon would be his leadoff hitter and Matt Kemp would bat third, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.

“Mattingly said (Andre) Ethier would likely hit cleanup against right-handed pitchers and that Juan Rivera could hit cleanup against lefties,” Stephen adds. “Mattingly said Mark Ellis will get the first shot at batting second, though Mattingly wouldn’t mind James Loney or even (Jerry) Sands hitting in the second spot in the lineup.”

Gordon is a dubious choice to lead off because of his on-base deficiencies, but I’m going to ignore that for the time being because he’s still too enticing to think about as a sparkplug – cliched or not – and the Dodgers aren’t exactly chock full of OBP-skilled alternatives.

More interesting to me is the choice for the No. 2 slot. I can see the arguments for Mark Ellis, Loney or Sands, but I’m not sure they’re any better than the arguments for A.J. Ellis.

The Dodger starting catcher’s on-base percentages for his past two seasons in the majors are .363 and .392. Sure, that might not hold up over extended playing time, but I’d at least be interested in testing it out. A No. 2 hitter who walks about as much as he strikes out seems right to me for this team (assuming the Dodgers aren’t willing to recall the age of Paul Lo Duca and bat their catcher leadoff).

You’d have to get over A.J.’s lack of speed coming right in front of Kemp, but it’s not as if anyone but Gordon should really be trying to steal with Kemp at the plate anyway.

Loney has always seemed made like a good No. 2 hitter to me, but the problem is that using him there would stack two of the Dodgers’ three left-handed regulars together, which is not what I want to see, especially late in a game.

I’m gathering that A.J. Ellis won’t see a first-inning at-bat much this year, but certainly, batting him eighth, behind a guy like Juan Uribe, seems like a mistake. But, wherever they’re hitting, these guys are going to have to produce.

Other notes before night turns into later that night …

  • The efforts of Kemp and Tony Gwynn Jr. to help lure Prince Fielder to the Dodgers are detailed by Dylan Hernandez of the Times and Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. From Hernandez:

    … Kemp said he actively recruited Prince Fielder over the winter and was convinced he would be in the same lineup as the former home-run champion in the upcoming season.

    “I was getting real confident in our chances of getting him,” Kemp said.

    Kemp said he spoke to Fielder several times.

    “I knew we were getting pretty close,” he said. “I didn’t know Detroit was in.” …

  • Comeback Player of the Year ballot candidate Ronald Belisario reported to Spring Training on time for the first time as a Dodger, notes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Zach Lee is the Dodgers’ top-ranked prospect by Baseball America at No. 62, followed by Allen Webster at No. 95 and Nathan Eovaldi at 96.
  • Ted Lilly became a father to his second child, Nora Grace, and was therefore excused from reporting to Camelback Ranch today, according to Hernandez. Congrats to the Lillys.
  • You’ve probably already seen this, but really did enjoy this Deadspin piece by Erik Malinowski on the making of The Simpsons‘ “Homer at the Bat.”
  • Potential Dodger owner Magic Johnson has another big enterprise on his mind – the founding of a new cable network, Aspire. Details from Jill Goldsmith at Variety.
  • Mike Axisa of Fangraphs made an argument that catching scarcity meant the Yankees should offer Russell Martin a three-year, $30 million contract. Others will disagree.
  • There are some minor rules changes in Major League Baseball this year, including what may become known as the Sam Fuld Rule, reports The Associated Press. (via Baseball Musings).
  • Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos talked to AP today about the aftermath of his kidnapping. “I feel like I’m living again,” Ramos said.
  • If you’re interested, I posted a bunch of TV thoughts today at Variety On the Air.
  • According to Jackson, Kemp’s reaction to the possibility that the Dodgers will sell for upwards of $2 billion: “Who’s got that kind of money? I thought I was rich.”
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713935344 Jason Ungar

    Facebook conversation with my mom….I said Hey Mom did you hear that O’Malley is no longer in the bidding for the team? Her answer, “Oh Well at least I had the 60′s and Sandy Koufax perfect game, I was with Uncle Ralph…”

  • Seamus Fitzpatrick

    I think Garvey should bat 4th.

  • Anonymous

    Jon, it’s “chock full”, rather than “chalk full”.

    BTW, I have to comment on your Dunphy confessional, too… Man, there are some emotionally tattered writers covering this game! Or maybe it’s just that I tend to find them. I had to stop reading Rob Neyer b/c of that dark cynicism, and the same for Craig Calceterra’s (sp?) snarky comments, and I can’t even visit Deadspin, the mecca of all things disdainful toward sports.

    I’m afraid the blogger you quoted was right – it does read as though you’re using this space at times as an e-psychiatrist, airing personal problems and embracing the support in the comments that you said you were not trying to elicit. And you do seem focused on the empty half of the glass, comparing your accomplishments against that of your peers in order to highlight what you don’t have.

    As a Screwnwriting major (that’s right, a $100,000+ education spent on a degree to pen spec scripts), I am incredibly envious of your opportunity and success (scripts produced on TV and an agent at one time!). Best I could scrap together was a semi-final showing in “Project Greenlight” (remember that?). It’s a shame you can’t see your successes for what they are.

    And it’s a shame that I might have to give up on another baseball site due to its depressing overtones. Maybe if you just stick to the Dodgers your topics won’t tread into that personal, downtrodden territory. (It is called *Dodger* Thoughts, after all.)

    Just my own thoughts…

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      Can’t believe I wrote “chalk” – it was late :)

      I don’t think I can’t see my successes for what they are – but I can also see that I’m in something of a predicament. Maybe for others, it wouldn’t be a predicament, but I feel for me it is.

      Yes, I do use this site to air out my problems in a cathartic way, and I welcome the advice I get, but to say that the reason I do it is for support as a goal is just wrong. I do it because I’m trying to work my way through stuff, and because I think there are some people, however few, who value it when I do so. I’m not doing it to get a pat on the back.

      I have ventured into personal writing for the better part of a decade here, so if it’s not your cup of tea, well, that’s probably not going to change. It does make me laugh that you think sticking to the Dodgers wouldn’t occasionally get depressing :)

      • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

        I’ve also more than once gotten comments, here and on Twitter, from people saying I shouldn’t be so ungrateful. “I wish I had what you had,” they say. The Irony Committee approves. If the idea is not to measure yourself against other people, you shouldn’t then simultaneously measure yourself against me. Maybe you’re worse off than me – there are always people better or worse off than ourselves in some respect – but if I’m not allowed to judge myself against others, you’re not allowed to judge me against others either.

        • Anonymous

          No one can ever know what is going on inside by looking in from the outside. I found the post worthy of reading twice.

        • Anonymous

          Jon:

          You’re so incredibly prolific that it makes me wonder whether you’re simply not concentrating your writing abilities in the right buckets.  If money is what you need to get through a period in your life when your wife is staying home to raise kids, there are lots more profitable ways to earn money by writing than by blogging about sports or trying to break into Hollywood.  If you spent half as much time on some well-paying corporate writing gig as you do on the Dodgers, I think your money problems would take care of themselves.  And you’d still have that other half for Dodger Thoughts.  

          Not that we’d want to lose half of your insights, but what’s that saying about half a loaf? 

          We all do things for the money that don’t necessarily fulfill us, but that allow us the freedom to do the things that do fulfill us. 

      • Anonymous

        Don’t bother defending yourself for being yourself when the goal/motive behind self-reflective type personal posting is self-improvement.

        If those that don’t like having to read about someone else trying to seriously look into the mirror of who they are, they are probably themselves busy avoiding looking into mirrors themselves and are therefore emotionally upset at references into self-reflection because their reflections aren’t all that pretty themselves, but they wish to cope by ignoring the ugly image as much as possible.

        Anyways, I’m for Dee Gordon for leadoff.
        Short term less run production and wins, longer term figures out potential limitations in the player’s skills, probably improves the players skills in the role you want him to be able to excel in.

        Give him the role now and endure the growing pains hopefully for a much more skilled player better able to utilize his physical talents 2-3 years from now.
         

      • Jack Dawkins

        I wonder if the ones who complain also would complain about Jim Murray and his article about his blindness, or the farewell he wrote to his wife?

        • Anonymous

          Murray never wallowed in his blindness when writing about it. It’s been a while since I read those articles (obviously) but as I recall he met those challenges head on.

          Besides, that shortcoming (losing his vision) affected his ability to do part of his job (watch games). I don’t see that parallel here. Jon’s lack of professional success or financial earning doesn’t impact his ability to watch and write about the Dodgers.

      • Anonymous

        No doubt following the Dodgers is a depressing effort (as has annually been the case since ’88, with a few momentary exceptions – thank you Jose Lima’s playoff CG win, Steve Finley’s walk-off slam in game 162, and the surprisingly good October karma that accompanied Mannywood).

        But I look to the Dodgers as a break from “the real world” and all of its problems. I think that’s why reading about personal problems (yours or anyone else’s) in a setting designed for (or named for) Dodger discussions doesn’t work for me.

        But that’s just me.

    • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

      Feel free to skip over a post that isn’t your cup of tea. It is a blog, it is Jon’s blog. A lot of us also enjoy reading his non-Dodger posts. And I know from past experience that during the actual baseball season most of his posts will be about the Dodgers. And worth reading. Hope you return.

    • http://ken.arneson.name/ Ken Arneson

      FWIW, this web site is categorized, so if you don’t want to see stuff in the “Life” category, just make the “Dodgers” category page your entrance to the site.  Each category has its own RSS feed; you just have to add /feed/ to the end of the category URL to access it. Example: http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/category/dodgers/feed/

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for the RSS tip! I was stumped, having only found the main RSS feed (for all posts, Dodgers and otherwise).

  • Anonymous

     Too late for the previous post, but Peter O’Malley definitely ought to have a prominent presence under any new owner.

  • Anonymous

    As far as batting order Mattingly is pretty traditional but at least he is possibly thinking of putting Loney and Sands in #2 hole rather than just sticking with the old school Mark Ellis choice.
    As I said at MSTI, I think different analyses (sp?) show that it doesn’t make that much difference where people bat (within reason, no leading off Uribe, Pitcher, etc) but it DOES make a bigger difference who is actually in the lineup!

  • Anonymous

    It’s not an obituary with someone contemplating suicide by jaguar, but this one has its own weird twist: http://jimromenesko.com/2012/02/22/betrayal-and-a-broken-heart/

  • Anonymous

    I really enjoy the personal pieces, and it seems easy enough to skip anything that I don’t want to read. I don’t know why you would stop visiting a blog because one post in ten is not on a topic you care about.

    Jon, I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through a tough time. I think more people live with pain (of one sort or another) than we realize. Most people just don’t feel comfortable letting others know that they have pain. I’m glad you’re able to use this site as an outlet, both because I expect it is helpful for you in dealing with your troubles, and also because it is helpful for me as well.

    Best wishes as you’re trying to figure out how best to manage your career. 

  • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

    Some good news, though not that earth shattering:
    “@Dodgers: Rubby De La Rosa: “I feel great” – he’s been throwing off flat ground & expects to be able to throw off a mound in April”

    Still on schedule to come back mid-season.

    Meanwhile, there’s Belisario… who said he tested positive for cocaine, at some indeterminate time, but only tried it once. 
    (And didn’t inhale!)

  • Anonymous

    How about Kershaw hitting second when he pitches?

    • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

      Or Billingsley, who can swing it, too, IIRC. 

      I do like the AJ Ellis over Mark Ellis idea, but doubt we’ll see Donnie do that unless/until the other guys flame out there.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      I’m game.

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t Vince Coleman turn Tommy Herr into an RBI machine? Maybe Gordon will do the same for Ellis, whichever one it turns out to be.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

       Good memory. The year he had 110 RBI, Herr had 38 doubles and a .379 OBP. With men on base, his OBP was .410.

    • Anonymous

      Willie McGee helped even more by hitting .353, and an OPS of .887 with 56 steals.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    Statement from the Los Angeles Dodgers

    “The Los Angeles Dodgers are pleased that the U.S.
    Bankruptcy Court has approved its revised Disclosure Statement, which keeps the
    Dodgers on track to emerge from Bankruptcy  as planned on April 30. 
     Bidders have shown tremendous interest in the opportunity to purchase the
    Dodgers and related assets, and the Dodgers look forward to a very successful
    conclusion to their bankruptcy case.”

  • Anonymous

    From Yard Barker -> http://tinyurl.com/6u63ysz some noble words from Kemp.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    NPUT

  • Anonymous

    What better way to develop a leadoff hitter than to bat a guy with the physical profile of a leadoff hitter in the leadoff spot so he can learn and get better at all the things that make one a good leadoff hitter?

    If he doesn’t get it after 2 seasons, then that’s just a limitation of the player’s skillset and then you redefine his role.

    I don’t think batting him eight long term is a good strategy even though for 2012 it would make for the best lineup at producing runs.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

       I kind of feel the same way.

  • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

    In a different article at the Times, Kevin Baxter quotes Tommy Davis about the differences between spring training in his day and now: ” It’s tough to get injuries when you’re drinking beer.”

    Hear hear!

  • Anonymous

    Man i don’t know why but i have this feeling that loney should bat second, i know he is not fast but i think he would do better if he batted second