We have a lineup. It won’t necessarily be the same lineup we see on Opening Day in April, but it is certainly exciting to finally see a Dodger lineup after the long cold offseason.
Andre Ethier CF
Juan Uribe 3B
Joc Pederson DH
Chris Heisey RF
This will certainly be the first of many different lineups this Spring for Don Mattingly. Nonetheless, it is still fun to break it down and take a look at the lineup we will see on Wednesday for the Cactus League opener between the Dodgers and White Sox at 12:05 pm PST.
Let’s go ahead and make some early assumptions about how this first look lineup is put together.
Jimmy Rollins is leading off. Of course Jimmy Rollins is leading off. I took a look at the lead off options for the Dodgers in 2015, and I had a hunch that Mattingly would go for the obvious choice of batting his new shortstop leading off. I would like to see some other players getting an opportunity to hit lead off including Joc Pederson sometime this Spring, but it looks like Mattingly has declared Rollins his lead off hitter already.
Speaking of Joc, he’s the designated hitter and batting eighth in the order. Pederson’s defense doesn’t seem like a worry at all, but the Dodgers are still not certain that Joc will be able to transition from hitting record numbers in triple-A to being offensively successful at the big league level. I’m confident and thinking positively that Joc Pederson will be a above average defender and hitter, but there certainly may be some growing pains at first. Joc isn’t playing center field…
…because Andre Ethier is playing center and hitting sixth in the lineup. He’s still here just like I thought he would be. Mattingly and the new front office regime were not clear to where or when Ethier would play come Opening Day. They were equally ambiguous with their answers about Joc, but they did make it clear that Ethier would get the opportunity to win a starting role. Ethier is entering his 10th season as a Dodger, and he historically plays well during Spring Training. Even though Ethier may not be my favorite center fielder on the team (Yasiel Puig is still my choice), he gives Mattingly versatility with his ability to play all three outfield positions if needed.
Call to the Pen
Carl Crawford is comfortable hitting second in the order, and I think this is the best place for his speed. Crawford stole 23 bases for the Dodgers last season. With Dee Gordon now gone, the Dodgers will need CC to channel some of his inner speed in order to make up for the loss of base stealer extraordinaire Gordon. Over his 13-year career, The Perfect Storm has most of his at bats coming out of the two spot (2,704 AB). Crawford has a career slash line of .300/.342/.456 when hitting second in the order.
I probably would have flip-flopped Howie Kendrick and Yasmani Grandal in the batting order (they are hitting fourth and fifth respectively), but I think we will be seeing Adrian Gonzalez firmly rooted in the third spot this season barring any slumps.
Adrian Gonzalez will once again be the Dodgers’ “butter and egg man,” and with the powerful losses of Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp, Gonzalez will be looked to lead the team with his usual strong defense and consistency at the plate.
Juan Uribe will follow Andre Ethier in the lineup, and the slick gloved third baseman will need to have another offensively viable season in order to help make up for the loss of power out of the lineup. Uribe has already hit a homerun against Clayton Kershaw this Spring, and with his bobblehead day coming in July, I see Uribe having a big year for the Dodgers. I’m staying positive that Uribe will stay healthy since the Dodgers will count on him to man third base until the Dodgers have someone in their system who can eventually take over. Uribe is signed through 2015 and entering his 15th major league season.
Pederson will hit lower in the order as expected in order to take the pressure off the young outfielder at least a little bit. One of the biggest story lines for the Dodgers this Spring is surrounding Joc’s future. All eyes will be on Pederson from Camelback Ranch this Spring as he vies for the Opening Day spot, one which is his to lose.
Chris Heisey is another interesting story to watch this Spring as well. He’s another outfielder auditioning for one of five spots (two are for sure already taken by Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford) in the Dodger outfield. Heisey could be a dark horse who may even uproot Scott Van Slyke from the Dodger roster should he win a spot out of Spring Training. With the new front office regime’s focus on stronger defense, I wouldn’t be surprised if they cut Van Slyke in favor of Heisey. Of course SVS is a favorite, but his defense is lacking.
Of course we will see a number of players during the game on Wednesday with reserves ready to also make their mark. I’m excited to see Corey Seager get a chance to bat tomorrow, and he is one of the listed reserve players for Wednesday.
Corey Seager DH
Kyle Jensen RF
There’s a lot to sort out this Spring, but for now I’m happy just to see a honest-to-goodness Dodger lineup.