This winter, the Dodgers made another splash in international player procurement when they laid out somewhere around $30 M for untried Cuban shortstop Alexander Guerrero, with the high hopes that he could quickly transition into becoming a major league quality second baseman. Early reports from spring training are that he cannot.
In light of the Guerrero signing, the Dodgers let Mark Ellis leave as a free agent, a move that they will be regretting for a long time. Without Ellis, the team has little to fall back on for second base besides Guerrero.
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|As an infielder, Guerrero is a good hitter, with power. Apparently he was an adequate shortstop in Cuba, with his bat doing the talking for him. In the major leagues and on the best team that money can buy, a team that can only have a successful 2014 by winning it all, Guerrero must play adequate defense, something that observers, including apparently the empty uniform non-manager Don Mattingly, think at this point at least to be unrealistic.
So, who else is there to play second? The name most often bandied about, even from Mattingly, is that of another shortstop, Dee Gordon. Gordon has shown
flashes of good offense, but only flashes, as in parts of three seasons and 621 major league at bats, he has hit a misleading .256. Misleading because he hit .304 in his rookie season, and only .229 since. His great speed and base stealing ability is intriguing, but he also struggled at shortstop and learning the niceties of playing second may well be just as difficult for him as for Guerrero.
Then there is off season pick up Justin Turner, a journeyman utility player who can hit and play decent defense at a few different positions, but he has played very little at second base over his career.
The final guy who may get some consideration is Chone Figgins who is attempting a comeback after sitting out last season following a couple of really bad years. In his prime he hit, he had great speed, and he could play anywhere, playing regularly at several different positions in the infield and outfield. If the year off healed any lingering physical problems and if he does have anything left, he could be the surprise of the Dodgers’ spring by winning the second base spot.