Who’s on first?
Besides residing in that sun drenched space between Interstate 5’s Grapevine mountain pass and the Mexico border, it’s hard to find much that the Dodgers, Angels and Padres have in common. But the way things are going so far this spring, those three clubs might just find themselves with something to talk about around the water cooler.
Check the offensive stats for all three of those teams a couple of weeks into Spring Training and you’ll notice quite a bit of production from guys occupying the right corner of the infield. In the case of San Diego, seeing Brad Hawpe‘s bat come to life this early is everything general manager Jed Hoyer could have hoped for. But if you’re either of the L.A. teams, the big bats swung by the kids on the corner – Jerry Sands for the Dodgers and Mark Trumbo for the Angels – are reason for excitement.
That’s because neither of those guys will be expected to carry much of a load this season. In the case of Sands, possibly none at all. Trumbo, on the other hand, could get a serious look at the bigs to start the season if Kendry Morales isn’t ready to go on a full-time basis. So far, the powerful righty has made the most of his spring opportunities with three homers and six RBI in just 27 at-bats. Last year, Trumbo destroyed the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, going .301/36/122 and everyone with a halo on their hat hopes that production can translate to solid numbers in The Show.
Not to be outdone, Sands was able to get a bit of a look because of James Loney‘s tweaked knee – Loney returned to practice after a couple of days off and should be back on the field soon – and has hit a pair of long balls and driven in five with just 13 ABs to his name. The organization projects Sands as starting the year at Double-A, but if the Dodgers suffer a power outage like the second half of last season, he could find his way to Chavez Ravine.
The stakes are a little different for Hawpe and the Padres. To ask anyone to completely replace what Adrian Gonzalez provided is asking much. Plus, hitting in Peoria isn’t like hitting in Petco, so his numbers so far should be viewed cautiously. But in his career, he’s been pretty successful hitting in San Diego and if he can turn his occasional home run power into semi-consistent doubles power, he can justify his value.
Latos struggles again – The Padres are counting on big things this year from Mat Latos and while it’s still very, very, VERY early, this certainly isn’t the start anyone would have hoped for. Latos lasted just 2/3 of an inning on Sunday against the Oakland A’s, throwing 38 pitches and giving up three earned runs with two hits and two walks. Manager Bud Black says he’s not concerned with Latos’ stuff, but did comment on his mentality. Latos has a tendency to be very emotional, especially when things aren’t going his way. If that’s the case, maybe the Padres should be concerned. Mechanics are much easier to solve than mindsets.
Rodney being Rodney – Angels’ closer Fernando Rodney is being given every opportunity to lock up the team’s closer job. But after being part and parcel to L.A. blowing a 10-run lead in Monday’s loss to the Cubs, that leash might be getting a little shorter. Right now, Rodney is helped by the fact that the Angels don’t have anyone else suited to take the job, but you can believe that if these shenanigans creep too far into the regular season, GM Tony Reagins will make a move.
Kim Ng’ing out – Dodger assistant general manager Kim Ng is leaving the organization to become MLB’s new senior vice president of baseball operations – a job that would have her report to former Dodger manager Joe Torre. Ng has been an assistant GM for 13 years and one day hopes to become baseball’s first female general manager and believes that the new opportunity could help her down that path.