After spending all that money at the trading deadline last year and in the offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves in the cellar in the NL West and seven games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks entering play Friday.
Most of their pain has come in the form of injuries. Hanley Ramirez has played only four games due to thumb and hamstring ailments. Dee Gordon (.175-1-5) couldn't pick up the slack and was sent back to the minors.
The rotation has been hit hard, too. Chad Billingsley (Tommy John surgery) is done for the year. Zack Greinke (fractured collarbone) missed a month after being injured in a brawl. Josh Beckett is currently on the DL and might be dealing with a serious ailment. Ted Lilly and Chris Capuano have been banged up.
Searching for answers
The latest crushing blow to the Dodgers was Matt Kemp landing on the DL with a strained hamstring Thursday. He was already a major disappointment, hitting only .251 with two home runs and 17 RBIs in 191 at-bats. Maybe his shoulder was still bothering him? L.A. can only hope that this gives him the breather he needs to get back on track.
In the meantime, the Dodgers are in dire straits. How do they replace Kemp in the outfield? More importantly, how do they infuse life into their offense?
Their two best options are Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson. Andre Ethier, who started in center field last night, has only played two games there. Some combo of Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston Jr. could fill in, but realistically, that's not going to be a solution to the problem.
As of right now, the Dodgers decided to leave Pederson and Puig down in the minors, leaving many Dodgers fans scratching their heads. Part of the problem is that neither Pederson nor Puig have yet to play above Double-A Chattanooga. A call-up to the bigs would likely expose their lack of experience against high-caliber pitching. That is the fear.
Another angle to this discussion is the hesitation by teams to call up their top prospects before the Super 2 deadline in June, which would speed up their arbitration clock.
With Kemp sidelined and no real center fielder in the picture to replace him, though, the Dodgers might not have the luxury of waiting. In fact, they probably shouldn't. They can't afford to fall any further behind in their division.
The lack of depth in Los Angeles' minor league system doesn't afford them the luxury of waiting on Pederson or Puig now. If you're speculating on either Pederson or Puig in your fantasy league, Pederson might be the favorite for a summons. He has more minor league experience than Puig, especially in center field.
Both hitters boast raw power with the stick and deserve to be owned in most mixed leagues if one is called up. However, if one, or both, are recalled any time soon, don't be surprised if they struggle in the majors. Spending a ridiculous amount of FAAB loot on them isn't advised. Leave that to your league mates.
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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