Monday, February 15, 2010

Questions and Albuquerque

Who is playing second base for the ‘Topes this year?
It won’t be Hu. Chin-lung has an outside shot at the one backup shortstop position that is available this spring on the major league club. Hu should continue to play short in Albuquerque when he loses out to Alfredo Amezaga or Nick Green for that bench spot.
Ivan De Jesus, on the other hand, is almost fully healed from last year’s tough break and appears to be well enough to play full time. Ivan needs innings in order to make up for the ones lost healing his broken tibia, so it made sense to me when I read that “the Dodgers just want to see De Jesus get through this season at Triple-A in one piece”. Logic tells me that Ivan will play second base there.
Alright, but if Ivan De Jesus is already posted up at second base in Albuquerque, what position is Blake DeWitt expected to play should he not make the big league team?
Blake DeWitt is generally considered to be competing for a major league role in a second base platoon with Ronnie Belliard and Jamey Carroll. Anything can happen in Spring Training; ask DeWitt. No one expected him to begin the season as the Dodgers’ starting third baseman two years ago, but you know what happened then. The point is, though, that Ivan De Jesus is near full-strength, the Dodgers are transparently thin at third base in the minors after trading Joshua Bell for George Sherrill, and Casey Blake is not going to miraculously pull a Benjamin Button any time soon. After a messy campaign last year shuttling between AAA and L.A., DeWitt would really benefit from a stable year-full of play for one team at one position. So, should he not make the big league team, DeWitt's position appears to be third base for the Isotopes.
Who else will be on the AAA roster?
In addition to two shortstops (from the group of Hu, Amezaga, Green, and Angel Berroa), De Jesus, and probably DeWitt, I would expect Jason Repko, Xavier Paul, Russell Mitchell, Lucas May, A.J. Ellis, Jay Gibbons, Hyang-Nam Choi, Cory Wade, Jon Link, Travis Schlicting, and Brent Leach to be in Albuquerque. I purposefully excluded minor league pitchers Javy Guerra and Alberto Bastardo (who are probably good enough to be in AAA this year) so as to make the list as conservative as possible.
Where are all of Ned’s non-roster invitees going when they don’t make the Big Club?
Chances are, almost everyone who doesn't make the major league team out of Spring Training will be offered jobs in New Mexico. Most of the NRI’s are there to fill practice squads, anyway, and have no chance of making the major league roster to begin with. Players on this list include, but are not limited to, Francisco Felix, John Koronka, Justin Miller, JD Closser, Gabriel Gutierrez, Justin Knoedler, John Lindsey, Argenis Reyes, Brian Barton, Timo Perez, Prentice Redman, and Michael Restovich. Granted, all twelve of these guys won’t necessarily be playing for the Isotopes this year, but I bet a lot of them will be.
That’s a crazy number of players already, isn't it?
I know, and I’m not even finished yet! Besides the backup shortstop scrum and second base uncertainty at the major league level, Joe Torre and his crew also have a rotation issue and at least one bullpen competition to worry about. There are no less than EIGHT non-roster pitchers looking to make the Dodgers out of Spring Training. From a group consisting of Luis Ayala, Scott Dohmann, Josh Lindblom, Ramon Ortiz, Russ Ortiz, Juan Perez, Josh Towers, and Jeff Weaver, I expect a MINIMUM of four to be pitching for Albuquerque. Not to mention the possibilty of James McDonald being sent down to "work on stuff" just because of his convieniently remaining option year(s).
I’ve now got AT LEAST 30, probably closer to 35, total names potentially looking to catch on in ABQ, but of course not all of them can. Some players will get hurt, while some will be cut, and some may play in Double-A. Retirement could be a real option, as well, for guys like Brian Giles, Doug Mientkiewicz, Ramon Ortiz, and Russ Ortiz, who might prefer to not accept an assignment to New Mexico if they are not on the big league club by Opening Day. Bottom line: There are just not as many openings as there are players.


  1. That is a pretty exciting list for we Albuquerque season-ticket holders. Thank you for addressing this question!

  2. And that's not even including the recently returned Eric "Game Over" Gagne