The Dodgers front office shocked the baseball world with the re-acquisition of Matt Kemp. Every player involved in this deal had a bad contract except for Charlie Culberson. Though he was never an everyday player, he will be missed for different reasons.
In a deal of bad contract swaps and big names, the loss of Charlie Culberson went relatively under the radar. With health being a factor with the other players, Charlie Culberson might have been the best player moved in this deal. McCarthy and Kazmir can’t seem to stay healthy, Adrian Gonzalez met father time and Matt Kemp’s health has been a question mark since his departure from Los Angeles.
Charlie Culberson has never been and will likely never be a star in the MLB. He has and will be a formidable MLB middle infielder. He is a pro’s pro and just does everything that you love to see out of a player. He plays the game with a special type of passion.
He is not afraid of the big stage either. Culberson played well in the playoffs for the Dodgers in 2017 and 2016. Charlie will also forever be etched into Dodger history. As we all remember the biggest hit in his career. With one swing of the bat, he clinched the NL West for the Dodgers in Dodger Stadium during Vin Scully’s last home game.
Life after Charlie Culberson will be business as usual for the most part. However, his departure does leave a lot of question marks. Like an NFL team with a star quarterback, you don’t realize how important a formidable back-up is until that star gets injured.
That is the perfect analogy for Charlie Culberson; the backup quarterback on a team like the Steelers or Saints. Unless you are a team of the fan, you don’t know who he is. You also won’t see him unless that player gets hurt. In this case, Corey Seager is the star quarterback with all the talent in the world.
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God forbid Seager goes down with an injury, the Dodgers were able to sleep easy knowing that they had a shortstop in Oklahoma City who could come up and fill in well enough to win ball games. Culberson is not going to be Corey Seager, but he was going to be Charlie Culberson who was enough to help the Dodgers win.
Culberson was an insurance plan on Seager and pretty good one at that. Now that he is gone the Dodgers have different options to go. Culberson will be missed, but the Dodgers have the personnel to more than makeup for his loss.
Obviously Corey Seager is our shortstop, and hopefully, we never have to answer the question of what happens if he goes down without Culberson available to step in. But the Dodgers still need to have a plan in place just in case it happens.
The Dodgers could go two different ways if we are not trying to make things too complicated. The first and most obvious candidate for the job is Chris Taylor. After having a breakout season, Taylor will be starting in Center Field for the Dodgers in 2018. He is a shortstop at heart and just learned to play the outfield last season to see more playing time.
Taylor is probably the best defensive shortstop on the roster including Gold Glove finalist Corey Seager. He is more athletic than Seager, arm strength is similar, and he looks just as smooth as Seager when fielding a ground ball. Taylor would fit in nicely as a backup for Seager. Also considering the amount of depth the Dodgers have in the outfield, filling in for Taylor would not be an issue.
The other option would be Enrique Hernandez. The Puerto Rican can do it all and do it all well. He is a great defender in the outfield and is also pretty solid in the infield. He is the definition of a utility man and will play wherever and whenever Doc needs him. Hernandez is not the most polished defender at shortstop, but he gets the job done.
Sometimes he can look clunky fielding a ground ball but he records the out, and that is all that matters. He is a utility man and likely won’t be an everyday starter so Doc could plug him right in and not have to worry about filling his vacated position.
If this were two years ago, I could see Justin Turner getting a crack at it but his days of playing middle infield are behind him. On the other end, if this were two years in the future Gavin Lux would be the man, but he is not ready to fill in just yet. I wouldn’t put it past Logan Forsythe to be able to play shortstop, but it seems like he is an unlikely candidate. Also, keep an eye on the FO and maybe a minor league deal for a veteran shortstop like Darwin Barney or Erick Aybar.
Of all the options CT3 seems like the best course of action should anything happen to Seager. He is the best defender and is a natural shortstop. With all the outfielders available it would not be a problem if he moved in. Culberson will be missed, but the Dodgers will be just fine without him.