Castellanos/Van Slyke/Sands postscript

Christopher Jackson, who covers the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque for the Albuquerque Baseball Examiner, stopped by the Dodger Thoughts comments Monday and offered the following reaction to my post about Scott Van Slyke, Jerry Sands and Alex Castellanos.

Castellanos is not ready for the big leagues. He can chew up and spit out the lousy pitching in the PCL, but he is very prone to chasing stuff on the outside part of the plate. Big-league pitchers will eat him alive, a la Sands last year with the inside pitches. The good news is Castellanos knows he’s not ready. I asked him if he’d heard the rumors people were tossing about when Uribe was hurting, and he told me everyone’s getting ahead of themselves. He knows for his development that a full season (or at least close to a full season) at Triple-A is a must. And no, folks, he’s not going to solve the 3B dilemma. The Dodgers are focused on him playing 2B, period.

Van Slyke, besides being one of the funniest guys on the team (his stories about life in baseball as a kid are outstanding), is a solid hitter and someone I could see going up to the big leagues in the second half. He can hit to all fields, he will take pitches at the plate and defensively he seems fine in the outfield (first base, well, there’s a reason the Dodgers moved him off there this spring).

Sands and the Topes’ coaching staff are confident he can turn things around, but lordy, that boy seems stubborn. They tell him “lay off the first pitch” and he goes up and swings away from the start. In most games his early plate appearances are hard to watch, then he starts to settle down. I think if anything he’s trying too hard; he’s overthinking at the plate. It’s frustrating for everyone involved, and you want to root for the guy since he is a good kid. You just wonder that if he can’t turn things around in the next month or so what the Dodgers are going to do. They want him to succeed, they need him to succeed, but right now …

Oh, and best bet for first Tope to be called up: Scott Rice. The kid is legit as a lefty reliever. Might spare you all from MacDougal/Coffey sooner rather than later.

Jackson is on Twitter: @TopesWriter.

  • Anonymous

    Makes the most sense to me to see a pitcher be the first to be called up.  The back-end of the bullpen is usually more like 8-10 guys over time, rather than five that are on the MLB roster at any given time (backing up Jansen and Guerra).

    Offensively, it seems unlikely that the team will make a big move while we are playing well, unless: 1) there is an injury (Uribe made it interesting); 2) someone really struggles and plays themself out of the line-up (Loney was in the doghouse for a week, but is now actually playing pretty well, and maybe Rivera will be bad enough to do that, but the more likely scenario is that he slowly falls in the order first)–and even then it could be attributed to an injury; or 3) one of the Isotopes plays themselves onto the team (this was the opportunity that Jerry Sands had both in Spring and in the early going–he could have forced himself onto the roster.  But short of someone playing in AAA they way that Matt Kemp is playing in LA right now, I don’t know if there are any opportunities).

    Mark Ellis seems unlikely to be unseated at 2B.  He is hitting fine and fielding well, and that matters in backing up the pitching staff.  And, like with Rivera, the first move is less likely to bench him and more likely to move him in the line-up.  If Loney continues to hit like he has after the first week, he could hit second–and of course AJ Ellis could hit second.  But even that change does not seem necessary.

    Uribe is probably the same thing.  I would have to look at his stats, but his defense seems good (even if it looks ugly) at 3B, and there is a lot invested in him hitting.

    The team is invested in Rivera hitting too, but he could be unseated.  But I think they are inclined to give Sands the first shot, and someone would have to play their way onto the team at this point.

    I think something is likely to happen.  I certainly hope that it is not because the team stops playing well (we won’t go 122-40, but I think we are going to keep playing well), or that someone plays themselves out of the line-up (possible).  But it is hard to imagine that between Uribe, Rivera, and (to a lesser extent) Mark Ellis, there won’t be a trip to the DL that could open the door for someone–Castellano, Van Slyke, or Sands.  Of course, that player would then have to make the most of that opportunity to hold the job.

  • Phil Gurnee

    Rice has to wade through some arms before he’d get the call.  We get Coffey back Sunday, big decision has to be made at that point. You would think Mac could be released, because the alternative  of putting Lindblom back in the minors would weaken the bullpen. Belisario is the next hurdle when he comes off his suspension. Without injuries the bullpen is crowded with only Mac pitching like he does not belong. Coffey will be given a long leash, the man has a solid history.

    I’d rather have Tolleson get the first minor league call then Rice. Talk about beast mode.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/6UJ674D6XXB7Q6HMS2QF3CNGM4 DodgerBlue

       I agree about Tolleson.  It is nice that Rice is a lefty.  I know Elbert pitched nice last night but I always wonder how much longer the Dodgers will put up with him. He’s been a huge disappointment IMO.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, but I think we have to get over the fact that he didn’t turn into the #2-3 starter we had dreamed of.  He did a nice job last year out of the pen for under $500k, and hope he can regain that form this year.

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

         Scott Elbert has a 2.63 ERA and 9.3 K/9 with a .670 OPS by opponents since the start of 2011.

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

          That’s huge! :)

    • Anonymous

      Coffey does not have a solid history; he sort of alternates good and bad seasons. For example, 2009 very good, 2010 bad, 2011 good but nothing like 2009. Not what solid implies. Also, even last season LHH hit 338 against him.

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

    Belated thanks for the first-hand thoughts (Isotope  Thoughts) :) Chris.

    I guess SVS is a reminder that, no, not everyone can play 1st base well. Back to the OF with ya!

     
    Interesting to have some cold water thrown on the idea of Castle coming up, including by Alex himself, but also good to have perspective.  It does seem Sands is getting a bit more patient at least (walk and a  double yesterday) but sounds like he needs to relax a bit more. I still have a feeling he’d get the first call of those 3 hitters.

    I’m with Phil, I want to see Tolleson this year, at least at some point. If we don’t I’m going to start to wonder.

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

    I bet we see Tolleson at some point. I can’t imagine MacDougal is long for this roster. Lindblom isn’t going anywhere now. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7PNAFNXM7T73BGEJ4GML6UCTC4 scottF

    Maybe Ned can stop signing vets and bring up the youth for pitching.

    Back in 2000 when the power was big, Cap would have got worked. But now some many hitters in many lineups are not doing well. He gets lucky.

    I will be keep any eye on Kurt Suzuki
    Ya he is struggling but I think he can hit in Dodger Stadium.(hitting just .186/.197/.254 through 61 plate appearances this season).  New owners will want to make a splash, and adding vet at a few positions with upsides, will upset Ned, because of the way he built the team, Then will be push out the door if they don’t make playoffs or advance.

    • Anonymous

      Why do you think he can hit in Dodger Stadium?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7PNAFNXM7T73BGEJ4GML6UCTC4 scottF

        Kurt Kiyoshi Suzuki (born October 4, 1983, in Wailuku, Hawaii)
        Ok only 28 hit in the past and from Hawaii.  Major city like Los Angeles has many hawainans or people love Hawaii. So his fan base will rise. Also played college ball at Cal State Fullerton.

        Does this translate into at Dodger stadium, no, but his 2011 season he hit: .237 but 14hrs & 24doubles.  Not convinced Ellis can hit those stats.

        • Anonymous

          Yes but you’re forgetting Suzuki’s pretty terrible OBP. I do think Ellis will get 24 2B, 14 HR no but I think his at least 60 point minimum increase in OBP more than makes up for that. 
          That being said, if Suzuki is brought in to replace Treanor, that’s fine.

          • Anonymous

            Kurt Suzuki’s career OPS is .700 (OPS+ of 89).  He is younger than Ellis, but also expensive.  He’s on a 3 yr/ $15.65M contact now.

            Ellis’s career OPS is .710 (OPS+ of 99).  He hasn’t played a full season as a starter, of course, but he only costs $490K. 

            So for 9% of the price, you get a slightly better hitter.  Less power, but much better on-base skills.

            I’m happy with Ellis, if Suzuki is the alternative.

          • Anonymous

            Good point about the price, wasn’t aware Suzuki was getting that much! No thanks….

  • Anonymous

    Good for some perspective on Castellanos. I’ve seen so many jumping on the bandwagon and just didn’t get it. Too often we all see a guy in AAA tearing it up and think he’s going to do the same in the majors and we fail to realize that Uribe, Rivera, whoever would be tearing it up even more in AAA as well…

    • Anonymous

      I think more ppl are on the “I hate Rivera” bandwagon. Rivera is what Rivera is. He’ll give you a low OBP, mediocre D, ok pop, and can be solid vs lefties. That sounds like a decent 4th of/pop off the bench type of guy not a starting LF on a championship quality team. Eventually we will need more from LF and Ned will have to look to upgrade.

      I think it was a joke to give him the starting job in the first place. We were all thinking that Rivera and Sands would challenge for the LF spot but the job was all Rivera in Ned’s mind. That’s what it seemed like anyways

  • foul tip

    Jackson didn’t say what his opinion of Fields was/is.  Wonder?

    • http://twitter.com/TopesWriter Chris Jackson

      Fields has played fairly well so far. His defense at 3B is solid, hasn’t seen much time at other positions (at last check, one start in RF, two at 1B). Hitting-wise he’s been good, not great, but it’s still very early. There is definitely some power there. The thing you always wonder about with guys who have spent a fair amount of time in the big leagues is how they handle being back at Triple-A. So far, he seems to be a model citizen, upbeat and looking forward to the future, whether it’s with the Dodgers or another organization (most Triple-A guys are smart enough to know they’re playing for more than one set of eyes down here). 

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

    NPUT

  • Anonymous

    Great insight on some of our minor leaguers

    I’m surprised that SVS can’t play 1B. Some of the scouting reports I’ve read state that this is his best position.

    Great insight on A Castlelannos. I hope he can develope and help us a bit later in the year

    It’s discouraging to read that Sands isn’t taking direction very well. We need him or SVS to come up once we realize Juan Rivera is nothing more than an ok 4th OF/back up 1B.

    Elbert has been shaky this year. He did well last year but let’s be honest. Elbert still has some control problems so we really don’t know what to expect from him. Any chance we go after Mike Gonzalez?

    • http://twitter.com/TopesWriter Chris Jackson

      I’m not going to see he can’t play 1B, it’s just they only had him start one game there in ABQ and he clearly looked rusty. They kept him off 1B all spring, which to me is a sign they’re looking at him more as an OF than anything else. 

      As for Sands, it’s hard to say that he’s not taking direction, it’s just that once he steps up to the plate in games it seems like everything he’s been told flies out the window. He works his tail off, gets along with everybody, but it’s weird, it’s as if all he does in BP and working before games just vanishes when the games actually start. It’s frustrating for everybody involved. It’s still early, so don’t push the panic button yet. If he’s hitting .200 on Memorial Day, then worry. 

      • Anonymous

        I hope he can eventually play some 1B. The versatility is always good especially with Loney’s struggles vs lefties.

        Sands seems like a good kid so I hope he gets it all together eventually. I find it hard to forget a message as simple as “lay off the first pitch” but I’m sure Sands is working on so many things at once that some things are lost among the chaos in his mind.