Friday, February 14, 2014

Despite signing Guerrero, 2nd base looks wide open

Perhaps the Dodgers aren't ready to just hand Alexander Guerrero the everyday job at second right away?

It sure looks that way based on recent quotes from Don Mattingly.  While the Dodgers eventually see Guerrero as the guy, especially since he's armed with a four-year, $28 million contract, Mattingly acknowledged on Thursday that he's not ready to declare Guerrero the "everyday guy" quite yet.

The word on Guerrero is pretty simple - he's a great hitter, but will be a work-in-progress with the glove at second.  He's been a shortstop in Cuba before defecting to the US in 2013, and the transition to second isn't as smooth as people may think.  When you're so used to pivots and angles of fielding and throwing from one side of the diamond, it can be pretty tricky to adjust all of that to another.

So if Guerrero is slow to pick up the nuances of second, whom do the Dodgers turn to?

The list is quite long, and it starts with old friend Dee Gordon.  Once looked at as the primary leadoff hitter and shortstop for years to come, ineffectiveness at the plate, with his glove, and injuries have all made him an afterthought.

The good news is that he's tacked on about 30 pounds on his wiry frame, from 150 to 179.  He still has plenty of speed, so that will never change.  He also has spent time working in the outfield, which is smart because at the very least, he can be quite the utility player and super-sub if he shows the ability to handle multiple positions.

There are a few other names to keep in mind as Spring Training gets underway.  Justin Turner is a former Met who hit .280 in 86 games last year.  I can see him making a push to replace Nick Punto as a utility infielder.

Justin Sellers broke camp last year as the starting shortstop after an injury to Hanley Ramirez, and horrible play from Gordon.  He then proceeded to hit .188 and earn his way back to Albuquerque.  By the way, the link above is worth clicking because he's hilariously referred to as "Justin Fellers" in the article.  Poor guy!

The remaining two names are Miguel Rojas, who came over from the Reds, and Chone Figgins, who's 36 and looking to make one last push.  Never say never, but I wouldn't count on either one of them.

The race to start at second will be a big battle to watch in Spring Training, along with juggling four outfielders and filling out the back end of the rotation.  Let's see how it all plays out.

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