We’re talking about what now?

Dodgers at Angels, 1:05 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Adam Kennedy, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, LF
Jerry Hairston Jr, 3B
Cory Sullvian, DH
A.J. Ellis, C
Josh Fields, 1B
(Aaron Harang, P)

More than once already this morning, I’ve seen pieces making arguments that I didn’t think needed to be made.

First: No disrespect to Buster Olney, but I can’t imagine the Dodgers are going to hit Opening Day with a 13-man pitching staff, as he suggests is possible, especially with Chris Capuano in the bullpen because of the day off April 9.

David Schoenfeld of ESPN.com and Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness were compelled to analyze the pros and cons of this — they’re correct in concluding that the 13-man staff would be a mistake, but this was one of those things that wasn’t really worth worrying about.

Barring anything out of the ordinary this spring, the Dodgers have six bullpen locks and an opening for a seventh reliever. After Kenley Jansen, Javy Guerra, Scott Elbert, Matt Guerrier, Todd Coffey and Mike MacDougal, the Dodgers are going to be deciding whether they think it’s worth hanging on to a non-roster invitee like Jamey Wright or keep Josh Lindblom from going to the minors. That’s it. Going with a nine-man bullpen and a four-man bench for the first four games of the season makes so little sense, I just don’t believe it’s a consideration. That 25th roster spot will go to Jerry Sands or an infielder.

* * *

This was the second of two topics today whose origin confused me. The first was Eric Seidman’s piece on Fangraphs, “Will A.J. Ellis develop any power?” I don’t mean to be critical at all — the piece is completely well-argued (spoiler alert: answer is probably not) — but I’m not understanding why the question is being asked.

There’s no reason to suspect that Ellis will suddenly become a slugger … but so what?  While it’d be nice if Ellis suddenly blasted balls out of the park, I think the Dodgers and their fans will all be quite happy if Ellis maintains his on-base skills over the long haul. How likely is it that he’ll do that? That’s a question worth exploring.

Seidman replied in the comments of his piece:

All good points, guys. Intention wasn’t to argue anything, really, just to take a historical look at a somewhat rare player. I think his OBP and defense make for a solid backup, but his slugging inability will hurt his effectiveness over 450+ PAs. Thought it was interesting that nobody has really had a similar OBP/SLG disconnect like his while also making it in the majors at a relatively older age.

* * *

Interesting tidbit from Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

Although the Dodgers are off to a sizzling start in the Cactus League with a 5-1-2 record — something that in reality means absolutely nothing — Mattingly is growing impatient with the unusual number of fundamental miscues.

“For me, we have gotten a little lazy lately,” he said. “We have missed some cutoffs and missed some signs. I think it’s just that part of the spring where we have to push ourselves to be a little better.”

* * *

The famous 1980 Pat Jordan piece for Inside Sports on Steve and Cyndi Garvey has been rerun in full by Alex Belth at Bronx Banter.

* * *

Jay Jaffe analyzes National League starting rotations at Baseball Prospectus.

  • Rob Moore

    +1 on that Fangraphs piece, which got the exact same reaction from me. 

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

    Game vs Angels will be repeated on MLB Network tonight at 7pm PST btw. (At least for those outside LA, not sure if it’s blocked out in LA or repeated on local station.) 

  • Anonymous

    The more interesting question would be whether James Loney develops any power. 

    • http://twitter.com/terryraustin terry austin

      Or whether Ted Lilly develops facial hair. (Spoiler alert: probably not.)

  • Anonymous

    REPKO!!!!! sighting in the Boston-Batlimore game last night.  He’s a non-roster invitee for the Sox.  He stole third with two outs in the 8th inning of a 5-1 game.  Speed never goes into a slump!

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

    Only Spring training but nice to see Harang outpitch Jered Weaver! Looks good so far…

    Now if only these games counted…

  • Anonymous

    I think the arguments are a function of being anxious for the season to begin.  The Dodgers come into Spring Training with perhaps the fewest questions that can be answered in Spring in years.  The starting rotation is set and the starting line-up is set.  There are almost no position battles (any hint of a battle in Right Field was wiped out by Ethier’s strong start, and for better or worse it does not seem that Mattingly is really opening up left field to a spring position battle).  There are basically two roster questions–one a back end relief pitcher, which may well be important but is hardly interesting; the other simply a question of whether Jerry Sands plays well enough to assure himself of enough playing time to justify being on the big league roster.  And the second question is one where everyone knows what they want the answer to be (Sands), and the alternative is probably an infielder (Fields? Sellers?) or maybe Trent Oeltjen, either way a player likley to see about as much action as Eugenio Velez.

    Meanwhile, the real on-field issues are ones that we will not get a good idea of until later in the Spring, if not really until the regular season is underway: Will Andre Ethier come back and be an effective force?  Will James Loney pick up where he left off last season?  Will the fourth and fifth starters pan out?  Will Dee Gordon deliver?  Will Chad Billingsley come around?  Will Kershaw continue his dominance?  Will Matt Kemp go 50-50?  All of these are the (very real) possibilities which will determine whether the 2012 Dodgers are another disappointment, or whether they will win the pennant.  But very little of this can be determined in the Spring.  We know what everyone is capable of doing–from Kemp and Kershaw through Ethier and Loney to Gordon and the back-end of the rotation.  Whether they really will is something that only the regular season will tell us.

    Meanwhile, the biggest question looming over the team is one that won’t be settled on the fields of the Cactus League, or even the hallowed grounds of Chavez Ravine, but instead the board rooms on the West Side, Downtown, and New York, and one which we have almost no insight into, and feel completely helpless to affect or even understand.

    So it’s Spring Training, everyone is talking about baseball, and if you follow the Dodgers, there is nothing to do except ponder the imponderables, like whether 31-year old on-base specializing catchers will miraculously turn into sluggers or a team will go nuts and put 13 pitchers on the roster (or maybe carry 4 catchers, or no left-handers, or some other completely novel roster decision).  So it’s natural for folks to dream up intrigue, even if the better advice comes from Milton, via Vin Scully, that “they also serve who only stand and wait.”

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

       The problem with this otherwise well-thought argument is that the articles were written by two people who don’t follow the Dodgers’ exclusively but rather write about baseball on a national basis — meaning they had much better topics to write about.

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

    NPUT