Dodgers Off-Season: Guerrero Trending Up, J.P. Howell Names Terms
With the off-season in full swing, the Dodgers have been relatively quiet thus far with rumors and speculation being the part that’s kept Dodger fans on the edge of their seats.
We take a look at the past week in Dodgers news and found out what’s trending up and trending down this past week.
The Dodgers’ biggest acquisition of the off-season began playing in the Dominican Winter League this week and has gotten off to a very productive start. Yesterday, we saw video of Guerrero’s first home run, a deep drive to left field in his fourth game with the Gigantes del Cibao. The Dodgers are finally able to see their signee in actual games and has impressed in his short time.
Guerrero is 6-14 in his first four games with a home run and three RBI. He is batting .429 and has two extra-base hits in his first professional competition since defecting from Cuba earlier this year. The Dodgers are hoping that Guerrero can handle second base this upcoming season and provide power and speed in the lineup. The team saw the success of Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig last season and are hoping that Guerrero can be the same spark that Puig was.
While the Dominican Winter League is nowhere near the same competition as the big leagues, the Dodgers hope that Guerrero can get into playing shape and use the time productively to be ready for Spring Training in February.
Mattingly is in the same position as last week when he was trending up for his nominations in two separate Manager of the Year votes. The Dodger manager lost the BBWAA vote for Manager of the Year but was named the runner-up for the award in a season where he was nearly fired. He’s still in contention for the GIBBY Award for Manager of the Year.
Mattingly remains on the positive side for the comments made by Dodger president Stan Kasten. The Dodger president expressed his desire to have Mattingly manage the Dodgers “for a long time”, which seems like a complete turnaround from the team’s stance after the season. The 52-year-old manager acknowledged the positive status of contract talks during an interview on the award announcement on MLB Network.
After a season of ups and downs, it seems as if Mattingly will finally have some stability with the team he has managed for the past three seasons and should have a new extension within the next month.
With the departure of Nick Punto to the Oakland Athletics, speedster Dee Gordon seems to have moved up at least one spot on the depth chart. Punto took over the backup middle infield position last season, leaving Gordon to spend most of the year in Triple-A; however, now that Punto is no longer with the team, Gordon may have a clearer picture at his role with the team next season.
Gordon made headlines this off-season for trying to convert himself to an outfielder for the Tigres de Licey in the Dominican Winter League to increase his value as a utility player. He’s done well, hitting .375 in his first eight games with two stolen bases and six runs scored.
If Gordon can successfully become a capable outfielder it’ll only help his chances of making the team, but his spot seems to have solidified with the loss of Punto.
After a hot start to his Winter League season, Pederson has cooled off this past week, hitting just .188 in his past four games. Playing in Venezuela with the Cardenales de Lara, the Dodgers prospect had just one RBI this week and struck out seven times in 16 at-bats. He has just one extra-base hit and dropped his overall average to .244 in 25 games.
Pederson will have to make adjustments if he plans to regain the stroke that hit five home runs and six doubles in his first 21 games in the Venezuelan league. It’s uncertain whether Pederson will remain with the Dodgers organization past this off-season, as he’s been linked in a few trade rumors since the season ended.
Although nothing has been done officially, it looks as if the Dodgers could lose one or two key bullpen pieces from last season. This week, teams have expressed interest in left-hander J.P. Howell and right-hander Brian Wilson. Howell and Wilson ended the season as the most consistent arms out of the bullpen.
Howell said that 15 teams reached out to him and that he was looking for a three-year deal, while a few teams have declared their interest in Wilson. The Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers were two of the teams that have been linked to the hard-throwing right-hander.
The Dodgers could easily remedy this problem by re-signing both relievers to their desired deals, but it’ll be somewhat more difficult with other teams competing.
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