Sunday, December 15, 2013

With Ellis gone, Dodgers' bench looks depleted

Yesterday the Dodgers decided to bring back Juan Uribe on a two-year, $15 million deal to remain the starting third baseman.  Today, their bench took a hit when Mark Ellis decided to sign with the Cardinals.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Ellis will ink a one-year deal with St. Louis, pending a physical.  It's not too surprising that Ellis is gone considering the Dodgers declined his option after signing Alexander Guerrero to a four-year deal, but there was still some talk of keep him aboard as insurance.  Now, he becomes insurance for talented youngster Kolten Wong.

Now that Ellis has moved on, the Dodgers' bench suddenly looks pretty bare.  The following have packed their bags for elsewhere this offsesason: Nick Punto (A's), Skip Schumaker (Reds), Jerry Hairston (retired), and now Ellis.  Not exactly the most productive players at the plate, but versatile guys who filled in at multiple positions.  And with an injury-prone team like the Dodgers, little things like bench depth becomes that much more important.

The question now is what the Dodgers will do with their bench for 2014.  Some in-house candidates include Tim Federowicz, Dee Gordon, Scott Van Slyke, and Elian Herrera.  All four have big league experience, albeit with not very good results.  Other candidates could be Nick Buss, Drew Butera, and Justin Sellers.

All of these guys are decent, but certainly not the greatest options to fill in when called upon.  Ned Colletti made it a point after the Dodgers were eliminated by the Cardinals in the NLCS that he wants to get younger on the bench.  With that in mind, it's not surprising that he let some of the old boys go.

Who's out there that the Dodgers can sign for their bench?  Just to throw some names out there, there's Mark Reynolds, Casey McGehee, Jayson Nix, Roger Bernadina, and Chris Coghlan, to name a few.  There's always the trade option, and if Colletti really is serious about moving one of his outfielders, you can guess he'll want some depth in return for salary relief.

I'll miss Ellis, as I always appreciated how hard he played no matter how banged up he was.  It's obvious he's not scaring anyone at the plate anymore, but his defense earned him a final nod for Gold Glove this year, something I'm not sure many people realized.  He probably felt like the Dodgers didn't find him very useful anymore, so I can't blame him for leaving.

I can see Colletti either relying on some of the youngsters to step up and fill roles, or blow the thing up completely and sign a few new guys.  Depth on the bench and in the bullpen are his biggest priorities as January starts to roll around.  Let's see what kinds of moves he makes.

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