The Dodgers Left Field Void

When the Dodgers made their huge trade with the Red Sox late last August, one of the many items they acquired was the contract of Carl Crawford, an overpaid and injured left fielder, who only a couple of years earlier was the free agent toast of baseball’s offseason. Coming off several excellent seasons of playing the outfield for the Tampa Bay Devils in which he regularly stole 50 to 60 bases and hit right at the .300 level, he had increased his power and run production, and teams such as Boston were happy to offer him untold riches after the 2010 season. Boston was the “winner” [sic] in the Crawford sweepstakes, when he chose them to pay him the sum of $142 Million over the next seven years.

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The BoSox were so richly rewarded when Carl hit a career low .255 with 18 SBs in 2011, and when he had managed to play in all of 31 2012 games (with 5 SBs and a .282 avg.) before suffering a season-ending tendon injury, on who better to unload the last $100 M or so of that contract than the now filthy rich LA Dodgers? Of course Carl could not play last August or September for LA, and come, now, did anyone really expect him to play much, if at all, before mid-season this season? So, reports that he is behind schedule with nerve root irritation in his surgically repaired

elbow are not at all surprising. As of now, he is nowhere near a game appearance, and has yet to even face live pitching.

So just who will be playing left field for LA when the season starts? The smart money is likely on Jerry Hairston, while Alex Castellanos is certainly in the running and Skip Schumaker, who will be backing up Matt Kemp in center field and also Mark Ellis at second base may get some time there, but my feeling is that expensive Cuban import Yasiel Puig might just get the call. The Dodgers shelled out another $42 M for Puig, but unlike Crawford, HE might actually have a future with the Dodgers, and could even become a star. The empty uniform d mattingly and GM Ned Colletti are giving the impression that Puig will start the season in Double-A, but if he continues his impressive spring as pitchers start rounding into form, it may be very tough to keep him off the major league roster and out of left field on or near opening day.

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