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Dodgers' search for someone to hit second in lineup could have them thinking outside the box, though not the organization

There’s the old Abbott and Costello who’s-on-second bit, and the lesser-known but currently more relevant Dodgers’ who’s-batting-second routine.

Somebody has to hit second in the lineup. It’s in the rules and everything.

Only right now, the Dodgers have no ideal No. 2 hitter. Not even a resemblance of a No. 2 hitter.

Last season the one Dodger who batted second more than any other was -- Matt Kemp? It’s true. I loathed the idea from the get-go, not just because he’s a strikeout machine, but because I wanted one of the team’s few power bats in position to drive in more runs.

Kemp, however, hit 12 of his 28 home runs batting in the two spot, easily more than any other place he hit in the lineup, though over half of those came in April when he was on fire.

Trailing Kemp in the number of times batting second was Ryan Theriot, who’s outta here, and Russell Martin, ditto.

So who are the candidates next season?

Kemp, James Loney (ugh), Mystery Person in Left Field or ... Ivan DeJesus Jr.?

Now admittedly this is something of a reach, but one worth exploring. As of this moment, DeJesus does not figure to be on the 2011 club.

He did not even earn a September call-up, which, Dodgers.com's Ken Gurnick noted at the time, was a clear message. Gurnick said DeJesus was reportedly in the doghouse because he was struggling with the concept of teamwork.

And there’s another problem, though one we’ve seen before. DeJesus was drafted a shortstop but switched to second base last season and is still learning the nuances of the position. Similar comments were made a year ago with Blake DeWitt and he became their opening-day second baseman.

DeJesus, however, played for new manager Don Mattingly in the Arizona Fall League, and seemingly very well (.321 average, .411 on-base, .436 slugging). And during league play, he made it clear to mlb.com’s Danny Wild what his goal was for next season:

"I need to be ready in spring training and get that job at second base."

Since then, of course, the Dodgers have picked up a second baseman in newly signed Juan Uribe. Although, that appears a roadblock, it may not be.

One of the very good things about Uribe is his ability to play several infield positions, particularly third base. And as you may have noted, the Dodgers still do not have a starting left fielder, and possible free-agent candidates have dwindled down to a precious, if highly unspectacular, few.

So the Dodgers have to be considering moving Casey Blake from third to left, Uribe to third and starting DeJesus -- who has a career minor-league .369 on-base percentage -- at second and batting him in the No. 2 spot.

That’s a lot of movement, and rookies batting second are hardly ideal, but neither are any of the other current choices. Plus, Blake and his 17 home runs in left appear better than the remaining options.

That would also allow Andre Ethier, Kemp and Uribe to be featured in the middle of the lineup. Jay Gibbons could get some starts in left against right-handers, and the Dodgers get needed power in left with the Blake-Gibbons combo.

This requires that DeJesus step up in spring. He’ll still be a mostly young 24 in May, but his time should be coming.

DeJesus spent last season at triple-A Albuquerque, and considering he was returning from a leg injury that caused him to miss his 2009 season, had a reasonable year (.296, .369, .378).

That’s not to say he couldn’t benefit from another season at Albuquerque, but there should be an opportunity for more come spring. Because somebody has to bat second.

-- Steve Dilbeck

 
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trayvon robinson is another option. yes he was only in AA last year but nowadays AAA is more for veteran players with no place else to go, while blue chippers are held in Chattanoga(AA) where the league's pitching is more difficult to hit. trayvon stikes out a lot, but he also has a high walk rate so he could develop into a serviceable 2nd hitter.

How hilarious. One of the premier franchises in baseball has virtually no clue as to who will fill the most important spot in the lineup, the two hole. I completely agree with you, Steve. In fact, I recently had a small tete-a-tete with Jon Weisman, who has James Loney hitting second on his potential lineup for 2011. In leiu of this fact, maybe your analysis is correct. We actually do have a number two hitter, in my opinion, and HAVE had him for almost five years now. His name is Rafael Furcal, and I find it mind blowing that absolutely NO ONE mentions his name as a possible candidate, as though he is contractually obligated, when healthy, to lead off every single game of his life. If the team might entertain thoughts of moving this injured warrior out of that spot, this could open up some other possibilities, such as maybe Martin leading off, ooops can't do that now can we. How about Juan Pierre, a prototypical leadoff hitter if there ever was one? Sorry, long gone but still getting paid. Kemp? Loney? Blake? Casey or Hawksworth.
I got a name for you-----
Jamey Carroll. The Dodger 2010 MVP.

That looks good to me, moving Blake to left, Uribe to 3rd and leaving 2nd base open. A position that doesn't necessarily need a power hitter and put DeJesus Jr. there and bat him 2nd.

OMG.

In 5121 career at bats Furcal as a leadoff man has an OBP of .352 .417slug and an OPS of .769

In 305 career at bats in the 2 hole Furcal has an OBP of .320 slug .344 and OPS of .665

--
So I see no reason to make the offense even worse. Furcal when healthy is the one (prob only) guy who will produce as expect.I'd hate to change that to accommodate who, Scott Posednick or some other piece of crap Pierre clone with a .310 OBP guy Ned will bring over...No thanks. Ned is just waiting for Damon for the two hole and LF. I can feel it. He can't help himself.

Are we forgetting Jamey Carroll? I know he's better as a utility guy: but Jamey Carroll had an OBP over .350 (he and Ethier are the only ones). And he can play seven positions. Considering the one thing the Dodgers have going for them is versatility with Uribe and Carroll, still Jamey in LF and bat him 2nd? Really, is there anyone else in free agency that has a .379 OBP????

I 3rd the nomination for Jamey Carroll on the starting lineup.

Jamey Carroll

I agree...I definitely don't want to see Kemp bat second...not with all those strikeouts. I would imagine he'll cut down on those next season, but he'd be better batting fourth, or maybe fifth depending on the pitcher. Ethier will obviously bat third. Uribe will probably bat fifth and Loney sixth, with Blake seventh and Barrajas eighth. Yes, Furcal will be the leadoff guy. As for the second spot, yes, that presents a problem. I'm assuming they'll end up signing Podsednik to play left (not much else available these days), and he'll more than likely bat in the two hole. That said, I really wouldn't mind seeing Carroll there.

of the whole sorry lot,
... Loney is your best ...

sorry ~

On second thought there is a problem with Blake assuming he needs more rest, unless he's the one who'll share LF with a left handed batter.

You see the Colletti factor has been invoked. Jamey Carroll fits the two hole bill as well as anyone on this team, but now that they paid Uribe zillions of dollars, he will NEVER be out of the lineup, and with Blake, Furcal, Uribe and Loney, that may be on of the slowest infields in the majors, and who cares how many balls Furcal gets to? They are nullified by his errant throwing patterns and soft hands of Loney.

Put Carroll in left. Why not? This team is not going to get a bat, obviously. And since it has been predicted that the vaunted Kemp will cut down on his strike outs from record breaking to just barely record breaking, his projected runs increase due to Davey Lopes sage advice, and his RBI's surpass everyone's favorite two hole hitter, James Loney.....I can't even go on with this bubba meises.

Sell the team already.

All of these machinations point out how terribly bad our team is going to be this year. The McCourts have really done a number on Dodger fans. Look at that lineup honestly and tell us that it scares anyone and is even remotely championship caliber. If we have to pin our hopes on Juan Uribe and Ivan DeJesus jr? It is going to be an ugly summer in LA.

Congratulations Ned, you've built a team that has a strong chance to finish third in 2011.

(and third is better than forth I guess)

Not a terrible idea and could possibly keep the team in contention in the west. However, base on age and experience, would it not be better to platoon Blake at first with Loney? This of course only assuming Loney continues his anemic production at the plate. Jr. may be a spark plug at the top of the order. Spring training will answer many questions, including the one posed by the readiness of the younger players knocking at the door....

Sign Johnny Damon. Trade for Carlos Quentin.

I agree with the poster below in that Rafael Furcal needs to bat second. My lineup would go like this assuming the Dodgers add no more players to the roster before opening day. Now, if they add a decent power hitter in left you simply move everyone up and put that hitter in the 5 hole.

1. Jamey Carroll
2. Rafael Furcal
3. Andre Ethier
4. Matt Kemp
5. Juan Uribe
6. James Loney
7. Casey Blake
8. R. Barajas
9. Pitcher

YES!!!!..........luv this idea........lineup as follows:

1: furcal -- SS
2: dejesus -- 2B
3: ethier -- RF
4: blake -- LF
5: Loney -- 1B
6: uribe -- 3B
7: barajos -- c
8th: Pitcher
9: kemp --CF

Caroll is a much better idea than signing Pods or Damon..I agree with you guys

Dodger Tony:

Nice try, Furcal is better at leadoff. Although if he could hit like he does at leadoff in 2 hole, yeah he's ideal. He just seems to like that leadoff role and hits much better from it.

Loney is not ideal, I agree, mainly because he hits SO much better with guys on base, which is why you don't want to bat Uribe in front of him. Loney in fact has an OPS far over .800 with guys on base and best numbers when he is hitting 5th in the order.

Carroll/DeJesus may be the best options, I agree and move Blake to left at this point. I still think there's something else coming, and hopefully it's not Podsednik or anyone even remotely like the crappy Juan Pierre....

You dont bat Furcal second you dont get even close to the same amount of production from him. I love Carroll that being said he is a utility guy who is a punching judy hitter DeJesus before he got injured was a favorite to get a bench role. I like DeJesus at 2nd and in the 2 hole. Also Blake being a platoon/ super utility guy.

How can anyone get excited about these possibilities. I just saw the luxury tax info that was released. The Dodgers payroll DECREASE was the largest of ALL major league teams at -$28 million. I have watched the Dodgers since I was a little boy in the 60s. I can't believe this is what has become of us. Are we content with a team with this many holes?

Keppinger. Amazing bat control, never strikes out. Excellent baserunner. Can play anywhere on the infield better than any one we have except furcal at short when healthy. Doesn't walk alot but makes up for it with the extra bases he creates by hitting behind the runner and his ability to place his singles in locations favorable getting the runner home. A doubles machine for the same reason. He could be had for nothing. Not that X.Paul is nothing, but it is clear he's not going to get a chance to play here with Robinson and Sands pushing there way up at the end of this year and the signing of mlb contracts for Gwynn and Gibbons.

Kemp Should'nt be anywhere near the top of the lineup until he can cut down on the K's. Due to the lack of threats from the right side he is our defacto cleanup guy. If we go get Keppinger our lineup becomes infinitely more balanced pushing most of the k's from our 20 hr guys back a spot. Ethier's k totals jumped abit last year but I think we can chalk that up to injury, coming back to soon and being the only legitimate threat when he did come back. His career numbers suggest he is an ideal number 3 hitter.

V. RHP
Furcal SS
Kepp 2B
Ethier RF
Kemp CF
Gibbons LF
Uribe 3B
Loney 1B
Barajas/Ellis C

V. LHP
Furcal SS
Kepp 2B
Ethier RF
Kemp CF
Uribe 3B
Blake LF
Loney 1B
Barajas/Ellis C

The only positive you can draw from these projected lineups is that everyone except Ellis is a proven Major Leaguer. It is always better to break from camp with proven commodoties.Not saying we'll bust out the gates and leapfrog the Gynts and the Rox but with our rotation and if these guys avg. what they have done over their careers we should win more than we lose. To make the playoffs we will need Kemp to step up and a career year from somebody else with significant contributions from rookies inthe 2nd half. I think we'll get improvement from Kemp, somebody else will step up and DeJesus will prove better than his old man. Idealy some borderline team has an injury at 3B and Blake gets traded leaving the door open for Sands/Robinson to step through and make an impact before Sept. call ups. Glad Scully stuck around another year cause I've been waiting my whole life to here him make a live call of, "Robinson is rounding third! Robinson is heading home! Robinson is safe at Home! Robinson has just scored from first on a double from Ethier!" Got to get Keppinger.

I'd rather see this scenario then watch Ned go out and hire another one of his famous journeyman "goons of the year" to fill the spot. How about we trade furcal once he gets hot?

If littel Jamie BAT BOY CArrol hits second in the lineup, I'm pointing a 9 mil to my head and waiting for the first Broxton meltdown to pull the trigger.

This is a delayed comment but I think this is the most viable alternative to actually answer the Dodgers left field situation. My opinion is that Jermaine Dye is the only left fielder the Dodgers should consider. But Dye would have to sign a dual minor/major contract which I'm not sure he would do and it would have to be incentive laced which would plump it up beyond what the Dodgers would want to add to their budget. The other available LF candidates are really not a plus. Certainly, DeJesus is not going to start every game at this point. Both Blake and Gibbons could start in some pitching situations with Blake going back to third or Gibbons playing 1st. And Jamey Carroll is in the mix, too at short, second and first. So, all in all, this seems like a far better option than a Hairston brother or whatever.


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