Running down the rosters: Los Angeles Dodgers

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Quantity over quality was the theme of the Dodgers’ winter. The team signed nine free agents for this year’s roster, none of whom will cost more than $4 million in 2012. Let’s dig right in…

Rotation
Clayton Kershaw
Chad Billingsley
Ted Lilly
Aaron Harang
Chris Capuano

Bullpen
Javy Guerra
Kenley Jansen
Matt Guerrier
Todd Coffey
Mike MacDougal
Scott Elbert
John Grabow

Disabled list: Blake Hawksworth (R)
SP next in line: Nathan Eovaldi (R), John Ely (R), Chris Withrow (R)
RP next in line: Josh Lindblom (R), Ramon Troncoso (R), Jamey Wright (R), Fernando Nieve (R)

The Dodgers allowed Hiroki Kuroda to walk as a free agent, replacing him with Harang and Capuano on two-year deals. It’s the second year in a row the Dodgers have tried signing a Petco pitcher. Jon Garland didn’t work out, though that was injury related, and it seems unlikely that Harang will either, given that he had a 4.70 road ERA last year. One would think they would have been quite a bit better off with Kuroda behind Kershaw and Eovaldi in the fifth spot, but at least now they have Eovaldi in reserve awaiting the inevitable Capuano injury.

The bullpen figures to be a strength, though that should have more to do with the youngsters than the vets. Jansen is one of the game’s best young relievers and will likely replace Guerra in the closer’s role before too long. Elbert had a 2.43 ERA in 33 1/3 innings after coming up last year, and Lindblom came in at 2.73 in 29 2/3. They’re further down the depth chart at the moment, but they’ll move up.

Lineup
SS Dee Gordon – L
2B Mark Ellis – R
RF Andre Ethier – L
CF Matt Kemp – R
1B James Loney – L
LF Juan Rivera – R
3B Juan Uribe – R
C A.J. Ellis – R

Bench
C Matt Treanor – R
INF-OF Jerry Hairston Jr. – R
INF Adam Kennedy – L
OF Tony Gwynn Jr. – L
OF Trent Oeltjen – L

Next in line: C Tim Federowicz (R), C Josh Bard (S), 1B-3B Josh Fields (R), INF Ivan De Jesus (R), INF Justin Sellers (R), OF Alex Castellanos (R), OF Jerry Sands (R), OF Scott Van Slyke (R), OF Cory Sullivan (L)

Things aren’t very encouraging here. The Dodgers boasted the NL’s best position player last year and still finished just ninth in the league in runs scored. A healthy Ethier will help, but Kemp can’t possibly be quite so good again and Ellis, the biggest acquisition of the bunch, is going to be a downgrade offensively from the departed Jamey Carroll.

I’d like it a little better if I could pencil in Sands, but it’s hard to imagine that the Dodgers committed $4.5 million to Rivera to become a bench player. Sands should be a starter eventually, whether it’s in left field or at first base.

Unfortunately, that’s the only infusion the team is likely to get this summer. No other minor leaguer figures to make much of an impact. If the Dodgers were particularly high on any of them, they wouldn’t have needed to bring in so many veterans over the winter.

It’d be a shame if the best years of Kemp and Kershaw are essentially wasted thanks to Frank McCourt’s money woes and GM Ned Colletti’s bumbling. But that’s what we’re looking at right now. The Dodgers were an 82-79 team last year and don’t figure to improve from there this season.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.

 

Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig had a brutal collision in right center field

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The score was tied in the top of the 10th inning in last night’s game between the Dodgers and the Cardinals. Yadier Molina was up to bat, facing Kenley Jansen and drove one to deep right center field.

Yasiel Puig was in full run for the ball as center fielder Joc Pederson ranged hard for it himself. Puig caught the ball, but not before slamming into Pederson. Both men went down, but Pederson went down harder, taking an elbow to the face from Puig before crashing head-first into the outfield wall.

Watch:

 

Pederson came out of the game, apparently bleeding from his head. There will be an update on his condition today.

UPDATE: Oops, there was an update last night: