March 1, 2013
A Pain in the Arm
The Dodgers have a lot of money, a lot of big names, and—according to PECOTA—the best playoff odds in the National League. What the Dodgers don’t have, though, is a lot of power on the bench, an Achilles heel that leaves them especially vulnerable to injuries to their key position players. Today’s Roundup begins at Camelback Ranch, where that concern might soon come to the fore.
Carl Crawford dealing with soreness in surgically repaired elbow
Wednesday’s news, however, may put a dent into those plans. Crawford and manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including MLB.com beat writer Ken Gurnick, that the 31-year-old is dealing with tightness in his left forearm, which arose earlier this week, possibly as a result of Crawford’s desire to accelerate his recovery timetable. Both the player and the manager stopped short of calling the flare-up a “setback,” but now that the calendar has flipped into March, Crawford can’t afford much of a detour if he hopes to suit up and take the field on April 1.
Meanwhile, after witnessing the pitfalls of poor outfield depth last season—when Matt Kemp appeared in only 106 games and left field was a revolving door—Colletti and Mattingly must be quivering a bit at the thought of dipping down into their existing pool.
Bobby Abreu, Juan Rivera, and Shane Victorino, a veteran trio that provided little in the way of thump last year, are all gone, and most of the remaining options are equally uninspiring. Elian Herrera, who appeared in 67 games in 2012, batted just .251/.340/.332, and Tony Gwynn Jr. did not log a single home run in 277 plate appearances. Jerry Hairston Jr. could be useful in a platoon arrangement, as Jonah Birenbaum pointed out on Monday, perhaps with fellow utility man Skip Schumaker, but the two are essentially mirror images of each other: solid reserves whose bats play best at up-the-middle positions, and who lack the dynamic speed that fuels Crawford’s 2.5-WARP projection.
So, where might the Dodgers turn if Crawford, Ethier, or Kemp is forced onto the disabled list in 2013? Unless Colletti flips one of his surplus starting pitchers, such as Chris Capuano or Aaron Harang, for a quality bench piece, the player to watch is Alex Castellanos, who on Tuesday earned a spot in Jason Martinez’s Minor League Update.