Tag Archives: Andre Ethier

Decisions in the Dodgers Outfield

Dodger Stadium Centerfield

CENTERFIELD

Heading into the season the big story regarding the Dodgers outfield was their depth and whether or not they’d be able to find playing time for five outfielders, all talented enough to be everyday players in other places. Two months into the season and the talent is still there, unfortunately the production hasn’t been. While Yasiel Puig has continued his assault on the National League, the rest of the Dodgers outfield, particularly Matt Kemp has struggled, both offensively and defensively. Kemp’s defensive struggles in center field initiated a recent-three game benching of the former superstar.

With Matt Kemp no longer the everyday option in centerfield, the question now turns to who is the best option in center. From a sheer athletic ability standpoint the obvious answer is Yasiel Puig, who can cover the most ground. Unfortunately the talented young Cuban is still extremely raw and prone to errors. The best option on the current roster is Andre Ethier, who’s a sure handed option, but lacking in speed and range. While Ethier is dependable, he’s a far cry from the former gold glove defense that Kemp used to provide prior to his ankle injury.

LA Dodgers Outfielders

DODGERS LINEUP

So what is the ideal Dodgers outfield? Depth is a good thing to have, especially with injury. The problem is when too much depth equals too many options. For a team with postseason aspirations the Dodgers are eventually going to want to determine what their ideal outfield is. Right now, from a production standpoint that ideal outfield begins with Yasiel Puig and a whole bunch of question marks. Matt Kemp has shown flashes of his former self but is struggling offensively. Carl Crawford was an igniter in the postseason last year, but has an on base percentage under three this season. Andre Ethier is what he is, a dependable bat and reliable fielder, but not a difference-maker offensively.

The X-factor in all of this is the presence of Joc Pederson, still tearing up Triple AAA. Up until now the speculation around Pederson has been as a potential part of a blockbuster trade or as a late season call-up. Right now the Dodgers would be crazy to even consider a Pederson trade and should be pondering whether or not they should immediately call up the phenom. Pederson is dominating the Pacific Coast League as the fifth youngest position player in the league, with a .351/.454/.638 batting line. Pederson has 15 home runs and 14 steals. Since an impressive spring he hasn’t cool down at all, impressive everyone with his approach to the game and professionalism. He’s likely big league ready.

Dodger Yaseil Puig

PUIG

The Dodgers ideal outfield, right now, should start with Puig and Joc Pederson. The big question is whether or not one of them can play center field. They both have the speed to play center, but are both also a bit raw defensively with a corner outfield slot being their best position. With the remainder of the outfielders plodding along with pedestrian numbers, there’s no reason not to call up Joc Pederson. The Dodgers took off last season in early June when they called up Yasiel Puig. Pederson, if he continues the form he’s shown in AAA, could have a Puig-like impact on the Dodgers. Like Puig, his energy will make him an instant fan favorite. Like Ethier, he has the advantage of being a left-handed batter, adding additional balance to the Dodgers lineup.

LA Dodgers Outfielders

DODGERS

Of course if they call up Pederson they need to make a decision on a veteran player. Scott Van Slyke will have a role due to his right-handed power, while Kemp and his massive contract aren’t going anywhere. Ethier is a potential trade option, but it’s questionable how much value the veteran will have. Carl Crawford, due to his large contract, has no trade value. All Pederson can do it continue to force the Dodgers hand, with his play. He’d already be in the big leagues with most other organizations. The Dodgers shouldn’t allow their limited options with Crawford and Kemp to affect their decision-making. If the best option for the Dodgers is to replace Carl Crawford with Joc Pederson, the team needs to strongly consider the move, massive contract aside.

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The Dodgers Are Ready Is Yasiel?

LA Dodgers Tickets

THINK BLUE

Two games in and the Los Angeles Dodgers couldn’t have asked for a better start. Traveling to Australia without Zack Greinke, Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp they outpitched the division rival Diamondbacks for two games to start the season 2-0. Even though the games were played in Australia they were technically “home” games for the Diamondbacks, giving the Dodgers two key road victories versus their fierce rivals. Clayton Kershaw was solid as usual in the first game, while Hyun-Jin Ryu threw five shutout innings in the second game. The Dodgers bats woke up in game two, scoring seven runs behind solid hitting performances from Yasiel Puig, Dee Gordon, Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe. The four players combined to go 9 for 18 and drive in five runs. Upon returning home the Dodgers have the annual Freeway Series with the Angels before they kick off the regular season on Sunday night in San Diego. You can purchase Dodgers Tickets for as low as $3.00 per ticket.

Dodgers Tickets Field Box

Field Box

Just when it seems things couldn’t be better in the Dodgers camp controversy surrounding Yasiel Puig has started up again, after just two games. After a tough spring and an 0-fer in the first game in Australia, Puig went 3-5 in the second game, driving in two runs. At the plate he looked like the same player that tore up June, July and August last season. In classic Puig fashion the controversy came in the game where he registered three hits. While Puig looked locked-in at the plate he was an absolute disaster on the base paths, making two big base running errors that led to outs, one killing a potential larger Dodger scoring outburst. The second base-running error led to what was described as an intense discussion with Dodgers veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Later on, during his last at bat, Puig swung and missed at a pitch and seemed flung his bat as though injured, prompting Manager Don Mattingly to question whether or not he was actually injured. Puig’s penchant for feigning an injury after a swing and miss, combined with his wild base-running is indicative of what Yahoo! Sports has referred to as his “maddening duality”. When engaged and playing error free baseball Puig is a potential superstar with Bo Jackson type athletic ability. During his rookie season the novelty of Puig helped energize and inspire the team. This season, one where the Dodgers have major expectations, his act may be wearing a little thin.

Yasiel Puig

Puig

So what to do with Puig? At a certain point will his antics outweigh his contribution on the field? The answer is likely no, or at least a bit more nuanced than many media members would insist. If Puig is hitting, like last season, he most likely has a spot in the lineup. The added element that wasn’t present last season though is the potential return of Matt Kemp. Kemp’s season-long injury issues coincided with the arrival and success of Puig. With the Dodger start center-fielder potentially returning soon the Dodgers have a full outfield of Kemp, Puig, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford. If Kemp returns and produces, and Ethier continues to hit like he did in spring training, Mattingly will have a choice in who he inserts in the lineup. If Puig’s production suffers he just may find himself coming off the bench a bit more than expected. Chris Michaels.

The Dodgers return to on April 4th for a three game series against the San Francisco Giants starting with their Home Opener on April 4th, Robin Thicke singing on April 5th and Kids Yasiel Puig Fathead for the Sunday 5:00pm game. You can purchase Dodgers Vs Giants Tickets today.

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Five Questions About The Dodgers In 2014

Five Dodgers Questions

Dani Kelly

After an outstanding 2013 regular season that saw them win 50 of 70 games at one point the Los Angeles Dodgers were eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship series. The club’s improvement justified many of the big moves t hey made the previous season and the 2013 offseason. Heading into the 2014 season the Dodgers are once again favorites to win the NL West and potentially return to the World Series for the first time since 1988. A World Championship would justify the big money spent by the new ownership group and usher in a new era of success for one of the NL’s most famous franchises.

The Dodgers outstanding 2013 season was marked by great pitching performances by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but also by a frustrating run of injuries for key producers like Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp. Kemp, a former National League MVP runner-up, had a frustrating season which saw him make several visits to the disabled list. The future of Kemp is just one big question mark as the Dodgers head into the 2014 season. Here’s a look at five big question marks for the Dodgers with spring training just two months away.

Four outfielders for three positions: The Dodgers have the luxury, and the potential dilemma, of four starting caliber outfielders. If Matt Kemp is healthy he’s clearly the club’s best offensive player and a potential MVP candidate. A healthy Kemp creates potential playing time issues for Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford. Puig, the dynamic Cuban rookie, took the league by storm when he was called up in June and played a major role in the teams amazing run of form from June to August. He’s a five-tool player with the potential to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases. Puig is also a major fan favorite. Crawford, who the Dodgers picked up in the blockbuster 2012 trade with Boston, had a solid season coming off of injury. He’s a weapon at the top of the lineup and had a strong postseason. The odd man out may be the dependable Ethier, who didn’t put up big power numbers last season but was a consistent cog in the lineup at periods of major injury for many of the Dodgers regulars.

Matt Kemp Dodgers

Matt Kemp

Will Matt Kemp ever regain his form? The Dodgers star centerfielder had an incredibly unlucky season in 2013. Even with multiple shoulder surgeries over the past year Kemp’s bum shoulder isn’t his biggest concern. Kemp suffered a broken ankle that many have characterized as career-threatening. He underwent surgery in October and he’s unlikely to be ready for the start of spring training. The question mark around Kemp makes the presence of Ethier even more important, although the specter of Ethier playing extended minutes in center field are a bit concerning for Dodgers fans. A healthy Kemp may be the biggest factor in the Dodgers making a World Series run. His health will be closely monitored as the season kicks off.

Is there potential starting pitching help on the way? The presence of Kershaw and Greinke at the top of the rotation gives Los Angeles perhaps the best one-two combo in baseball. With Ricky Nolasco now a member of the Minnesota Twins the Dodgers have a rotation spot they need to fill. The big question is whether or not the club will utilize their deep pockets to go after Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka, the latest star Japanese pitcher to become available, was an amazing 24-0 in the Japanese professional league last season. He’s been compared favorably to Rangers import Yu Darvish and could give the Dodgers another potential ace for their rotation. Spending the amount of money they’ll need to attract Tanaka may be out of the question for middle of the rotation starter, but the story will be an interesting one to follow over the next month as multiple teams chase Tanaka.

Is Donnie Baseball in LA to stay? Questions around the future of manager Don Mattingly persist. The former New York Yankees superstar led the club to the division title and deep playoff run last season, but the club’s management has never seemed to have full confidence in Mattingly. Many question the skipper’s in-game decision making and his management of the roster. The enhanced payroll has clearly upped the pressure in Los Angeles and the club could very well be on the market for a more high profile manager. Should the Dodgers get off to another slow start the rumors of Mattingly’s demise will likely kick up again.

Can Chad Billingsley return? Lost in the Dodgers potential interest in a high profile starting pitcher is the potential return of Chad Billingsley. Although he’s been with the club for eight seasons Billingsley is just 28 years old and has put up solid numbers over his Dodgers career. The Dodgers could get Billingsley back in May, potentially taking care of their fifth starter issue. Billingsley has won 81 games over his Dodgers career with an outstanding 3.65 ERA. Another starter to keep an eye on is Josh Beckett. The veteran righty struggled last season and is coming off of arm surgery. Beckett, one of the top postseason performers of his generation, should be available for spring training.

Due to their early start of the regular season, when they take on the Diamondbacks in Australia, the Dodgers kick off Cactus League play on February 23rd, less than two months away. By:Dani Kelly.


Dani Kelly
Senior editor at Barry’s Tickets

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NLCS Preview Los Angeles Dodgers Vs St Louis Cadinals

NLCS Dodgers Vs Cardinals

Dodgers Vs Cardinals

With the St. Louis Cardinals defeat of the Pittsburgh Pirates the National League Championship is set and will begin Friday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis with the Cardinals taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers. Down 2-1 in the NLDS the Cardinals won consecutive elimination games behind dominant starting pitching by Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright. The matchup between two of the most storied franchises in all of baseball is the first postseason series between the two clubs since the Dodgers swept the Cardinals in the 2009 NLDS. The two franchises boast seventeen combined World Series titles, with the Cardinals second all-time with eleven.

Here are three things to watch in the NLCS:

Elite Starting Pitching: The Los Angeles Dodgers boast arguably the top 1-2 pitching combination in all of baseball in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. The Dodgers twenty-five year-old lefthander Kershaw is the odds on favorite to earn his second Cy Young Award in four seasons.  Greinke, who the Dodgers acquired via free agency this offseason, has long been one of the dominant right-handers in the game and won 15 games this season against only four defeats with an outstanding 2.63 ERA.  In the Dodgers 3-1 series victory over the Braves in the NLDS Kershaw had two outstanding starts, striking out 18 batters in just thirteen innings pitched with just one earned run given up. Due to the Dodgers decision to start Kershaw in game four of the Braves series the Dodgers will start Greinke in game one, followed by Kershaw on Saturday.

The Cardinals have their own trio of outstanding starters in veteran ace Adam Wainwright and rookie Michael Wacha. Wainwright closed out the Pittsburgh series with a dominating start in game five. He’s joined in the rotation by Wacha who pitched seven perfect innings in Pittsburgh in game four before giving up a solo home run in the seventh inning. Wacha exited the game with just one hit allowed and one earned run in an incredibly boisterous road environment.  The twenty-one year- old was a late call-up who nearly pitched a perfect game during the regular season. The remainder of the Cardinals postseason roster is to be determined, with a choice between Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller.

The Season Series: The Dodgers took five of seven from the Cardinals this season including taking three of four in St. Louis in early August.  In the August series the Dodgers received outstanding starting performances from Ricky Nolasco, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke.  Ironically the lone Cardinals victory was the one game started by Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw gave up just two earned runs but the Dodgers were unable to provide their starter much run support, ending the Dodgers club record fifteen game road winning streak. In the first game of the series Greinke out-dueled Wainwright in a tight battle.

For the Dodgers to prevail they’ll need Nolasco and Ryu to recapture the form they showed during the late summer Dodgers hot streak. After being acquired by the Dodgers from the Marlins Nolasco was outstanding, but struggled at the end of the season, perhaps due to throwing so many innings this season. Ryu, the Korean rookie, had a strong regular season but struggled in game three of the Braves series. The playoff schedule may allow the Dodgers to go with a three-man rotation, but it’s likely they’ll have to start Nolasco in game four back in Los Angeles.  They’ll need the right-hander to recapture the form he showed right after his acquisition.

The Cardinals Lineup:  The Cardinals don’t have the superstar they once had in Albert Pujols, but do have one of the deepest and most efficient batting lineups in baseball. The Cardinals are third in baseball in runs scored and on base percentage and fourth in batting average. The Cardinals had five players drive in at least seventy-five runs this season, with four regulars batting over .300. Second Baseman Matt Carpenter led the NL in hits, batting .318. Superstar catcher Yadier Molina hit .319 with 80 runs batted in.  Molina is on track for his seventh gold glove. Allen Craig led the National League in batting average with runners in scoring position, hitting .315 with 97 runs batted in. Both Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran hit near .300 with between 22 and 24 home runs and 80 runs batted in. The Cardinals lineup will be a big challenge to the Dodgers pitching staff. One bright spot for the Dodgers is the Cardinals inconsistent offensive showing in the NLDS.  After leading the Cardinals all season in batting Carpenter hit just .067 in the NLDS with David Freese, Matt Holliday and John Jay also struggling at the plate.

The biggest key to victory for the Dodgers is getting off to a strong start in St. Louis, just like in Atlanta. If Greinke and Kershaw can be their dominant self the Dodgers have a strong opportunity to reclaim home field advantage upon their return to Los Angeles. The Cardinals are a battle tested club with significant postseason experience.  The spotlight won’t be too big for them and the Dodgers will face a hostile environment this weekend in St. Louis. With Wainwright starting game five the Dodgers have the luxury of avoiding the Cardinals ace in St. Louis. Wainwright will likely start game three in Los Angeles. The Cardinals game one and two starters are still to be announced but likely will be either Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller or Lance Lynn in game one and Michael Wacha in game two. Lynn struggled in game two versus the Pirates and Kelly and Miller both have very little postseason experience. The veteran Dodgers club may have an advantage versus the very young Cardinals rotation as the pressure gets ramped up even more in the NLCS.

Prediction: The Dodgers ride Kershaw and Greinke into the World Series, out-dueling the young Cardinals rotation. Dodgers win 4-2.

By:Chris Michaels