Good afternoon, Dodger fans.
Well, that was an eventful night at Dodger Stadium last night! Matt Kemp‘s lead-off homer in the bottom of the 4th turned out to be the final real highlight of the spring. The Dodgers take the spring finale and the Freeway Series by a final score of 4-3 in 5 innings thanks to a plumbing problem that flooded stadium offices and left a pool of waste water flooding foul territory on the third base side of the ballpark.
The team is off today, and work will be done to get the ballpark and its plumbing ready for the expected capacity crowd on Opening Day tomorrow.
Here’s a roundup of Dodgers News and Views.
We start here with our very own article on “Learning To Love Matt Kemp Again.” Yes, this is shameless self-promotion, but yes, you should read this. The article looks at Kemp’s career, the highs of the 2011 season and the monster April of 2012 he had before injuries began to pile up. It explores Kemp’s journey through a bit of a baseball wilderness and how he came back to the Dodgers again and concludes that, yes, it is okay to love Matt Kemp again.
We also reported yesterday that Trayce Thompson has been designated for assignment. The 27 year old Thompson has not yet been traded or claimed. The Dodgers acquired Cory Mazzoni, a right-handed reliever, from the Chicago Cubs across the waiver wire and his placement on the 40 man roster necessitated Thompson’s DFA status.
Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers have made another one of their final roster moves. Andrew Toles will be optioned to AAA Oklahoma City, securing roster spots for outfielder Joc Pederson and backup catcher and utility player Kyle Farmer on the bench. While Toles outperformed Pederson in spring training, he is returning from a significant ACL injury and the Dodgers would prefer that he has the opportunity to play every day in AAA rather than split time with the big club with the likes of Matt Kemp, Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig in the outfield in order to continue to gain strength. Ned Colletti reminds fans on his Twitter account that although Toles may be starting the year at AAA, this does not mean he will be devoid of opportunity, pointing out to the success of Chris Taylor last season after a strong spring initially earned him a spot in AAA and praising Toles’ play.
Dustin Nosler at Dodgers Digest gives his take on Matt Kemp, but believes Kemp might be setting us up for heartbreak. Still, Nosler acknowledges that Kemp’s homer last night looked like the Kemp of old, and hopes that he will be able to provide solid production, particularly against left-handed pitching.
Jeff Spiegel of Dodger Blue reports that the Dodgers may have an “Austin Barnes” problem and that the solution may involve playing Barnes frequently at positions other than catcher. Barnes has shown versatility during his time as a Dodger, not only performing backstop duties but spending some time at second base. Spiegel points out the splits of Barnes, primary catcher Yasmani Grandal and primary second baseman Logan Forsythe against lefties and righties and points out, rightly, that Barnes and Grandal split better against right-handed pitchers while Barnes and Forsythe split better against left-handed pitchers. Because of these splits, Spiegel believes the solution may be to start Barnes frequently against right-handers at second base and against left-handers at catcher. An intriguing solution and one which may help the Dodger lineup maximize its potential during the season.
That’s your roundup for today. In about 24 hours, Clayton Kershaw will take the mound opposite of Ty Blach and the 2018 season will be underway. If you are planning to go to Opening Day, plan to arrive early, consider taking public transportation to avoid traffic in and around the stadium, and enjoy the game!