Rivera Returns to the Dodger Lineup, Van Slyke Sent Down, Did Dodgers make the Right Choice?
By Scott Andes
Outfielder/first baseman Juan Rivera returns to the Dodger lineup tonight. Manager Don Mattingly told the media that Rivera would be activated for the first game of the Philadelphia series on Monday. Rivera has been out since May 9, with a ruptured or torn left hamstring. It’s basically the same injury that has sidelined Matt Kemp until July, except that Rivera’s hamstring tear was considered worse. A complete rupture. However Rivera has recovered and after playing a couple of rehab games he is ready to rejoin the Dodgers. Rivera is batting .247 with two home runs and 13 RBIs, in 25 games. Rivera has 20 hits in 81 at-bats while splitting time between left field, first base, and the Dodger bench.
With Rivera’s return, the Dodgers must make room on the 25 man roster by optioning someone down. The Dodgers have four minor leaguers that are candidates to be sent down right now. They actually had five but Jerry Sands has already been sent down. Who do you think the Dodgers send down? The choices are between infielder/outfielder switch-hitting unknown Elian Herrera, second baseman Ivan DeJesus Jr., outfielder/fist baseman Scott Van Slyke, and outfielder/second baseman Alex Castellanos.
Today the Dodgers announced they have optioned down Scott Van Slyke to clear room for Rivera. Did the Dodgers make the right decision? Let’s take a look.
Alex Castellanos has only played in two games thus far and it is very doubtful he would be sent down. In his two games of play Castellanos has looked good. Castellanos was originally drafted as an outfielder but was converted to a second baseman. Since joining the big club he has only played left field, as Mattingly has said he wants to use him there most of the time. The 25-year old Miami native, already has two hits, including a triple.
Elian Herrera has been the surprise of the four youngsters. Herrera is 27 years old and signed as a free agent. He was a relative unknown, languishing down in double AA before the Dodgers finally called him up. Herrera is already 19 for 58 (.328) with a .400 OBP in 17 games. He also has given the Dodgers great defensive flexibility with his ability to play all over the diamond. Herrera has played at second base, third base, left field, and center field. Herrera is a switch-hitter and very adept at getting on base. This guy came out of nowhere and has impressed everyone.
Ivan DeJesus Jr., was a top prospect who has fallen out of favor with the Dodgers. DeJesus was drafted in the second round of the 2005 draft and his father once played for the Dodgers. DeJesus broke his leg during spring training a few years ago and has never been the same since. Last season he actually made the opening day roster due to injuries, but was unable to capitalize on the opportunity. IDJ was only 6 for 32 (.188) in 17 games before being optioned back down to Albuquerque. While Dejesus was a .297 hitter in the minors, he only hit 27 home runs. He couldn’t stay healthy. This season he has been much more productive. Once again he found himself thrust onto the Dodger roster because of injuries. IN 2012 IDJ is 7 for 22 in 11 games for a .318 batting average, three doubles, and a game winning pinch-hit two run double in the ninth inning in a game at Arizona. The problem with DeJesus is he can only play at second base, which limits him. While IDJ has a potential productive bat, his below average defense and lack of versatility make him a question mark.
Scott Van Slyke’s father Andy Van Slyke was a three time all-star center fielder. His son Scott is also an outfielder and was drafted by the Dodgers in the fourteenth round of the 2005 draft. Van Slyke is a big boy, 6’5 250 pounds, and a right handed bat. The Missouri native has always put up decent slugging numbers in the minors. A .287 career average, and 76 home runs. He hit 23 in 2009, and 20 for Chattanooga last year. Van Slyke has struggled during his call-up for the Dodgers which makes him the primary candidate to be sent down. Van Slyke has just six hits in 34 at-bats in 17 games. (.194) Although he did hit his first Major league home run on Sunday night Baseball with his father in the stands. The three run shot was the eventual game winner for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers had a tough roster choice to make. Of the youngsters Elian Herrera has been the best, and most productive. He has earned the right to be in the starting lineup. Dejesus is ok with the bat, but horrendous defensively which has apparently moved him up on the team depth chart. It seems to be just enough to justify his spot on the roster. Castellanos hasn’t played enough obviously to make any judgement, however he was just called up and supposed to provide a spark with Matt Kemp disabled. I doubt he would be the one to be axed. Sands and Van Slyke have been terrible. Sands is utterly useless, and I am amazed at how far he has fallen within the Dodger depth chart. Don’t get me wrong Van Slyke has been equally as atrocious as Sands has been, but he was allowed to stay for longer probably due to his lucky home run more than anything. Both outfielders were called up too quickly and are not ready for the majors yet. Anyways it just proves that coming up to the big leagues is inherently difficult to do and sometimes can takes years for these prospects to develop.
I would keep starting Herrera, and keep Dejesus and Castellanos on the roster for now. I think Scott Van Slyke should be the guy sent down at this time. It doesn’t mean he won’t be back up playing very soon, and I hope he will be back soon. Thanks for the home run Scotty! If the Dodgers are to remain in first place, they are going to need contributions from everyone within the organization. Roster decisions loom for the Dodgers. Do you think the Dodgers made the right choice? Let us know in the poll below. Who do you think the Dodgers should have axed?