Dodgers 2014 Off-Season: Puig, Prospects & Ellis Top Trends
There are only 10 days left until pitchers and catchers report to camp and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finalizing their roster for the 2014 season.
We continue to take a look at the off-season trends from the past week:
After being arrested in December for reckless driving, Dodgers’ outfielder Yasiel Puig had his charges dropped this week. Officials dropped the charges because Puig wasn’t weaving, was sober and has a valid drivers’ license and he won’t face any jail time. Since the arrest, Puig has hired his cousin to be his personal driver to avoid any more miscues that could keep him off the field.
Puig was very active in the community this off-season and emerging as the face of the franchise before the arrest. Now that the issue is resolved, the 23-year-old can focus on the game and help lead the Dodgers back to the postseason.
Dodger management has turned its’ focus back to the farm system and developing talent through the draft and international signings. The Dodgers had the 11th-best farm system, according to Keith Law of ESPN , after being ranked 18th last season. There were five players ranked in Law’s top-100 list, including two in the top-20.
Julio Urias, Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Zach Lee and Chris Anderson were all ranked in the list, with Urias and Seager being number 14 and 18, respectively. The two teenagers represent a bright future for the Dodgers and could be the cornerstones of the franchise in a few years.
Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis lost out to Brian Wilson in the fan vote for bobble head promotional giveaway earlier this off-season, but the team decided to give him one anyways. By popular demand it seems, the 32-year-old Ellis will receive his own bobblehead on September 7 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Ellis has emerged as a fan favorite over the past two seasons and is one of Clayton Kershaw’s better friends on the team. His home run against Arizona propelled the Dodgers to their first NL West title since 2009.
Questions continue to surround the Dodgers’ starting rotation heading into the spring as Josh Beckett is currently slotted in the fifth spot despite coming off surgery. Others competing for the final position include Zach Lee, Stephen Fife and Matt Magill with Chad Billingsley set to return in May or June.
The Dodgers were in the running for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, but lost out to the New York Yankees. Bronson Arroyo has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Dodgers, along with rumors of Ervin Santana. Last season, the team had eight capable starting pitchers heading into the spring and were forced to call up more early in the season because of injuries, making depth a key this season.
With the Michael Young decision looming, the Dodgers haven’t made any other moves to improve their bench and seem to be content heading into 2014 with their roster. Chone Figgins, Dee Gordon, Justin Sellers and Miguel Rojas will all be competing for a chance to play with the Dodgers and possibly take some time at second base, depending on Alexander Guerrero’s development.
If the Dodgers get Young, then the group will be a bit more solidified but there would still be concerns. Young is no longer the same defensive player he once was and could be limited at second base. Gordon provides the speed but his defense has also been a concern; whereas, Rojas is a defensive standout but doesn’t provide much at the plate. Figgins hasn’t played since 2012 and may not be the player he once was.
ICYMI: Here’s our Dodgers Nation Week in Review Video