PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 26: Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is greeted by Jerry Sands #47 and Dee Gordon #9 after Kemp hit a three run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on September 26, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Ladies and gentlemen, the focus is now officially on 2012. For all of us, except for maybe Cardinals fans, it's time to move on from 2011. This year is so last year anyways. So here at MLBDD we're spending some time projecting each team's 25-man roster for Opening Day 2012. We're not projecting trades or free agent signings here, so this is purely focusing on the talent that each team already has in-house. The 2012 season may not start soon, but we can still think about what it might look like.
Starting Lineup (ages are based on April 4, 2012)
Catcher: A.J. Ellis - Age 30 (as of 4/9/12)
First Base: James Loney - Age 27
Second Base: Mark Ellis - Age 34
Third Base: Juan Uribe - Age 33
Shortstop: Dee Gordon - Age 24 (as of 4/22/12)
Center Field: Matt Kemp - Age 27
Right Field: Andre Ethier - Age 30 (as of 4/10/12)
Full batting order, bench, starting rotation and bullpen projections, as well as some of my thoughts, are included below the fold.
1. SS Gordon 2. 2B Ellis 3. CF Kemp 4. RF Ethier 5. 1B Loney 6. LF Rivera 7. 3B Uribe 8. C Ellis
1. LHP Clayton Kershaw - Age 24
2. RHP Chad Billingsley - Age 27
3. LHP Ted Lilly - Age 36
4. RHP Nathan Eovaldi - Age 22
5. LHP Dana Eveland - Age 28
Closer: RHP Kenley Jansen - Age 24
Some Quick Thoughts
- It appears that the Dodgers will give Ellis a shot, which he certainly deserves. The minor league veteran hit .304/.467/.418 with a 50/23 BB/K ratio in Triple-A this year, and followed that up by hitting .271/.392/.376 in 103 plate appearances with the Dodgers. Those are elite OBP skills, as long as he can keep pitchers honest.
- Yeah, James Loney is probably going to be back. It's admittedly going to be a frustrating move to most Dodgers fans, and that's certainly understandable. Over the past four years, Loney's essentially been a below-average bat for his position. Apparently, hitting .314/.368/.460 over his final 484 PA's and .388/.438/.679 over his final 148 PA's was enough to get one more shot.
- It's a tad disappointing that the Dodgers spent so much money on Juan Rivera's two-year deal, especially when they have a fairly redundant young player in Jerry Sands that needs to get an extended shot in the majors.
- The back of the rotation will probably get some work, even though the front is still top notch. I'd be shocked if Eovaldi and Eveland were both actually in the rotation on Opening Day, although the Dodgers probably don't have that much more money to spend.
- Josh Lindblom and Scott Elbert broke out as relievers near the end of the 2011 season, and along with Kenley Jansen they could end up building a pretty impressive young core for the Dodgers bullpen.