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And now for a good Dodgers problem -- Jamey Carroll

Who would have thunk it?

When Jamey Carroll was signed as a utility player a year ago, it was fairly underwhelming stuff. Nice addition, not exactly significant. Some thought Nick Green should have had the role.

But Carroll not only proved valuable, by season's end, many thought him the team's most valuable player.

He played hard, he hustled, he cleanly played four different positions, and perhaps most surprising, he excelled when teammate injuries frequently pushed him into a starting role.

By season's end, Carroll had started 101 games. He had the second-most at-bats (351) of his nine-year career.

He batted .291 with a team-high .379 on-base percentage and stole 12 bases in 16 attempts. And although he's a few light-years away from being a power hitter, he responded in the clutch, batting .326 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

Starting 64 times at shortstop while Rafael Furcal was out, he made only four errors in 573 innings.

"We found out last year how valuable he is," said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly. "He can play everywhere -- three infield spots, the outfield if you need it in a pinch."

Which leads to the question ... now what do you do with the Mighty Mite?

Given the continued need for a right-handed bat in left field, there are several scenarios in which Carroll could get regular playing time.

He could start at second base, moving Juan Uribe to third (where his limited range makes it his best spot) and Casey Blake to left. Less attractive is simply starting Carroll at third, and moving Blake to left. Or you could simply start Carroll in left.

He certainly isn't that power bat longed for in left, but he is right-handed and probably a better option than anything else the Dodgers have right now.

Plus, playing Carroll could eliminate another nagging Dodgers problem -- the lack of a No. 2 hitter in the lineup. Carroll mostly batted at the end of the order last season, but his on-base percentage makes him a much more attractive candidate than any of the other current starters.

All those scenarios figure to happen at some point this season, but the current intention is for Carroll to return to his original job description.

"You want to have a plan," Mattingly said. "To me, we got Jamey to be a utility guy, and that's what we want him to be. If he's in there on an everyday basis, I don't think we're the club we want to be.

"You want to be able to use his flexibility and give guys days off in certain spots and keep everybody strong. How left field turns out, we're going to see. It's going to be a competition."

Sure, ideally, Carroll would make an All-Star utility player. But that assumes there's a right-handed bat in left field that's superior to what Carroll brings to the lineup.

And I don’t see that guy right now, not in Tony Gwynn Jr. or Trayvon Robinson or Russell Mitchell or, at the moment, Jerry Sands.

If the Dodgers are going to field the best daily lineup with the players they currently have, they need to consider making Carroll an everyday player.

-- Steve Dilbeck

 
Comments () | Archives (13)

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Great post, Steve! I couldn't agree with you more. Jamey Carroll was THE bright light last year, and our best player hands down. There is no way, however, that you can find an everyday position for him due to Furcal's questionable body. He will be needed in that position and probably be called on to replay what he did for us last year.

Smart.

I don't care where he plays...we need him...he seemed to be one of the only ones who gave a crap last year.

Counting on Carroll for any more than a utility player would be a mistake. Let's not think he can build on or even come to duplicating last years performance.

Jamey Carroll an everday player?

The fact that the scenario is even a consideration.....#&*(#^&# embarrassing.

As much as I hate to say it, I have to agree with Mattingly - if Carroll's a starter, then this team is in trouble (like it isn't anyway.) He is what he is - or he is what he should be - a nice utility ballplayer to have around. But as a starter, he's just another sign how far this franchise has fallen.
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Honestly, if we're supposed to be excited to find a way to get Carroll in the line-up, then we'll be all aflutter when Ned signs Eric Chavez in another few days.

Playing good when you're a platoon player is one thing, playing good as an everday starter is something else. FWIW, if he is going to start I would leave him at 2B. I don't think it would be wise to have a 3B or LF with no power at all.

I even thought the best middle infield last year was Jamey at SS and DeWitt at 2B. But what do I know, not very much apparently.

I am in agreement with Steve on this one, given the current cast of "characters" I wouldn't mind starting him in left everyday. We need someone to hit in the 2 hole and he is perfect for that role. Unfortunately, I think Gibbons is penciled into left at present and that leaves Jamey in a utility role. It would be nice to see him play everyday. He played so well when Furcal went down I did not understand the trade for Theriot or Scotty "Pods" but we are where we are......

Wherever Jamey plays it doesn't erase the hole in LF. But by playing him at 2B you move Uribe to 3B thereby closing the growing hole there. Man we have so many holes. You have to assume Coletti is planning some sort of trade.

Play Jamey! But the Dodger strategy is go with the medicore guys.

Just to throw it out there, not that he's any good, but how about taking a flyer on Melky Cabrerra to play left. Coming off a lousy year he should be pretty cheap and the guy at least has potential. Potential is really the best compliment he can ever receive but I don't see the downside if the money is right.
Frankie can just throw a couple grand of the 400 million that he just borrowed from Fox "payday loans and check cashing".
Don't know how smart it would be but wanted to see if anyone else thought it may be a bennefit.

One theory I have is that Ned has been trying to make the team a "no brainer" for his rookie manager. He has packed the starting staff and added a relief innings eater like Guerrier to give Mattingly only the simplest of pitching decisions to make.
I think Ned would also like to do the same in the offense/defense position players and pinch hitting. If everyone has a set job/role and there is a set line-up everyday, Mattingly will have fewer chances to make mistakes. I think both Ned and Donnie are looking for making the least mistakes in light of the legal confusion that will be swamping the team in the coming year(s)
That said, "if" Gwynn can play center and Chavez can be acquired and play 3rd, the positions are all set and leaving a versatile bench of Carroll, Blake, Gibbons, the back up catcher and one newbie to start breaking in like XPaul, Hoffman, Sands or DeJesus would give Mattingly fewer major decisions to make.
However - there are the big "ifs". Can XPaul ever hit major league pitching and defend? Can Gibbons play long term? Can Gwynn hit a lick? Can Chavez return to health? Can any catcher hit? Can anyone bat second? Can Blake turn the clock back? Will Furcal's health hold up and will he steal bases again?
Maybe too many "ifs" to burden a new manager with at this time.
Getting back to the issue of the post - Carroll is valuable as a back up and gives the manager one less worry if he is there. If he is in the line-up, there will be less than adequate bench support - important factor in a 162 or more game season.
I echo all said be previous poster Labeldude

given the age of our players, past health for those players, I think Carroll will essentially be the everyday eight's 9th starter and with about 100 starts again

the team is old, will need days off, and if his bat stays near .300 it'll be a deal where guys might get days off even if they don't need or want them. And there's probably a good chance someone will hit the DL and he'll get extended starts in one position or another.

Glad we have Jamey Carroll.


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