Cody Bellinger – Left Fielder?

I have been telling you a few things over the Winter:

  1. Julio Urias is going to have a breakout year;

  2. Yasmani Grandal will come close to 40 HR;

  3. Willie Calhoun won’t play 2B due to horrible defense and lock of foot speed;

  4. Among Ryu, McCarthy and Kazmir, at least two will be contributors; and

  5. Cody Bellinger is ready.

Former GM, Jim Bowden also has some bold predictions going into Spring Training in today’s ESPN INSIDER.  He says that  Jason Heyward will start in center field for the Cubs on Opening Day among other things, but here is what captured my attention:

Cody Bellinger starts in left field for Dodgers

The Dodgers’ initial long-term plan for Bellinger looked solid: He would spend the next two years in the minor leagues and be ready to take over first base full-time at the end of the 2018 season, when Adrian Gonzalez becomes a free agent.

However, that was before Bellinger upset those plans with his rapid progress at the plate. Bellinger, 21, has quickly developed into the best first-base prospect in the game with the potential to provide a .350 OBP, 30 home runs and 100 RBIs while being a Gold Glove-quality defender as well.

Here is where it gets tricky. To be conservative, the right move would be for Bellinger to start the year in Triple-A and be ready in case Gonzalez gets hurt in the middle of the season or once rosters expand in September. However, Bellinger’s bat is ready now — he’s arguably the Dodgers’ best hitter after Corey Seager.

That’s where my bold prediction comes in. I think the Dodgers will play him in left field some during spring training and quickly realize that he is more than adequate out there. He will show them that he’s a far more advanced run producer than any of their current candidates in left, such as Andrew Toles, Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke.

As talented an offensive player as Bellinger is and as open-minded as the Dodgers’ front office can be, I can see Bellinger becoming their surprise starter in left field on opening day.

I agree with Bowden:  Bellinger’s bat is ready now — he’s arguably the Dodgers’ best hitter after Corey Seager.

If Cody is truly the Dodger’s best hitter after Corey, then he will have to play.  I knew Corey was ready when he was called up.  Cody is ready too.  How do I know?  I just do. I was wring about Joc – I predicted he’d be a 4th or 5th outfielder, so there’s that too!  I am not infallible!  I just give you my best opinion and that’s all I can do.

It looks like the gang is all here:

Rants & Raves

  • With every passing day, it becomes more likely that Joe Blanton re-sign with the Dodgers.  Here’s the deal:  they don’t NEED him, but they can USE him.  Joe made $4 million last season and it has been rumored that he wants a 2 year/12 million deal to sign now, but the line to sign him is short.  He might be forced to take a $4 million/1 year deal. That’s a deal the Dodgers should make… if Joey will sign the contract.
  • The last I checked, all teams get to have 25 men on the opening day roster, so why not have as many players as possible?
  • I suspect that Chase Utley might be a very valuable tool with 200 AB’s for $2 million a year.
  • I suspect that Franklin Gutierrez will get 250 AB’s and mash LH like you won’t believe.
  • Wednesday is reporting day.  Thursday is the first team workout!

UPDATE:

Baseball America has a very interesting podcast about the Strength of the Dodgers and how they were built.

If you think FAZ has done a poor job because of some misses, once you listen to this you might understand.  If you don’t… well, I can’t help you.  They pick the Dodgers to dominate “the rest of the decade.”

They talk about Bellinger, Alvarez, Verdugo and Willie Calhoun.  They think he has a chance to be “one of the better hitters in the game.”

They said “Austin Barnes will be one of the best backup catchers in the league.

Posted by Mark Timmons

I started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. I took a year off in 2016 and now I am back. This time we are going to experience some incredible things. Hang on! It's going to be a great ride!

This article has 32 Comments

  1. It’s heating up in Arizona. Just in time. The team has a lot of work to do to figure out the 25. I hope some young guys stick. After the Mark Praise, I’m anxious to get a first hand look at Corey. Strike that. Cody. Confusing already. I saw Cody with RC, and he looked like an above average player. The best hitter on that team was Kyle Farmer.

  2. I think this Spring is going to be very interesting and that there will be battles for multiple positions. I have heard that Dave Roberts has requested a “veteran bench.” He believes VETS on the bench are a huge advantage. That probably goes back to his days with the Red Sox World Series Championship.

    This should be exciting!

  3. Very exciting if Cody is a 30 hr, 100 rbi, guy this year. Changes EVERYTHING. I would guess, if true, no platooning in left? Where does Gutierrez get his 250 AB’s? First base? Can he still play center?

    Exciting time for Dodger fans

    Yes, to Blanton!

    1. Gutierrez is not a Gold Glove CF anymore, but I think he can spell JOC against Mad Bum and guys like that. If Toles, Ethier or Bellinger face tough LH pitching, he can also spell them. He has never played 1B.

      1. Gutierrez absolutely can’t play CF anymore at all. Fangraphs has a piece on the disease he has that put him out of baseball for a year. Not only can he not play CF, he will be a bit of a butcher in LF because he can’t move anymore. Fortunately, Puig and Toles can play CF.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/instagraphs/the-reinvention-of-franklin-gutierrez-baseball-miracle/

        If Bellinger is tearing it up and someone needs a first baseman, Bellinger will still stay in AAA unless Ethier and Toles are struggling in LF or Gonzalez’s play has had a huge regression.

        1. Well, I am not a doctor, so I don’t know if he can play CF or LF, but I do know that swinging a bat put a lot of torque on the lower torso… where the digestive tract is. That said, he was out of baseball in 2014 to get the disease under control and then came back with a vengeance in 2015!

  4. The Dodgers already have too many players for too few spots. I seriously doubt that they are going to promote Bellinger early under the circumstances. I am reminded that Puig had a huge spring after they signed him and they still sent him down.

    If they keep 13 pitchers (8 man ‘pen) then that means a 4 man bench. Barnes will be one – they need a backup C. This means 3 spots for everyone. Since Utley doesn’t play SS then if they keep him they will have to keep another IF, and I presume it will be Hernandez. This means that Gutierrez will be the only remaining bench player – and I assume that the starters in the OF will be Ethier, Puig and Pederson.

    No Van Slyke or any other righty 1B to spell Gonzalez against tough lefties (Ruf); no Toles or Thompson (who may start the season on the 60 day DL anyway). And no Bellinger.

    1. Bellinger probably is a long-shot to break camp with Dodgers, because of the DEEP roster. But, 22 yr old in July, Bellinger, could force FAZ’s hand regarding some trades to clear a spot for him, if he is truly ready.

      I think Dodgers gotta go with 12 pitchers, supplemented by the minor league shuttle this year.

    2. Dodger rick

      That is a good point about Puig, and having to many players, for only a few spots.

      And they really didn’t bring Corey up that soon in 2015, even though Rollins, was hitting close to the mendosa line, most of the year.

      And I would assume that Corey was more ready in 2015, then even Bellinger, at this time.

      But I guess you never know, because we had two players that started at A ball last year, that came up to the majors, and made more then a mark, on team.

      1. I think Corey should have came up sooner… but it worked out OK.

        Cody is ready too. I hope they don’t wait too long.

  5. Personally, I think it’s more likely Bellinger takes the 1B job than the LF job, but who knows?

    There will be injuries – both on the Dodgers and other teams.

    What is Bellinger is raking at AAA in May and some other team needs a LH 1B or outfielder ?

    Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. FAZ is prepared with depth – will the opportunity come?
    ******************
    You never know. Ideally, the Dodgers do need a Manny Machado. What if Baltimore is tanking at the All Star-Break? Would you trade Alvarez, Calhoun, Gonzalez, Hernandez and Verdugo for Machado? I would! Gonzo may have to go to a 3rd team.
    *
    1. Pederson CF
    2. Seager SS
    3. Machado 3B
    4. Bellinger 1B
    5. Turner 2B
    6. Puig RF
    7. Grandal C
    8. Toles LF
    *
    Put Bellinger between Machado and Turner and he is going to see a lot of pitches. BTW, Logan Forsythe becomes our super-sub!

      1. He only has played SS 52 games. He is an excellent 3B and Corey is rated the #1 SS in MLB. Why mess with it?

        In 18, you might have the best players at every infield position. Who’s a better 2B than Turner? Murphy will be at 1B by then…

        1. Mark

          I was just asking.

          But with your idea, I guess we don’t need Braun at all, with some of the players, that might be available, at the trade deadline.

    1. No, I would not make that trade. The Dodgers will be incrementally better with Alvarez than they would be with Machado IMO. I would include Verdugo, Calhoun, Hernandez, and Puig, in a trade but not Alvarez.
      .
      I look forward to watching a young core of: Wil Smith, Bellinger, Seager, Pederson, Toles, Urias, Alvarez, Buehler, Stewart, and a few others.

      1. Machado is 24. Alvarez is 20!
        *
        Alvarez is high risk, high reward.
        *
        Machado is low risk, high reward.

        1. For the next two years I think Turner is close enough to Machado that I would wait to sign Machado as a free agent and not trade for him. I throw out trade ideas but I am patient enough to wait for Alvarez.

  6. Arenado becomes a free-agent exactly when JT’s contract is over I believe. Maybe with only one year left.

  7. Arenado’s splits:

    Coors Field – .308 BA / .355 OB% / .937 OPS
    *
    Not Coors Field – .261 BA / .305 OB% / .762 OPS

    Nolan Arenado could not carry Justin Turner’s jock away from Coors. He will get big money, but remember Vinny Castilla.
    *
    Hell, Turner hits .361 at Coors with a .425 OB% and .981 OPS!
    *
    Arenado is a fake!

    +
    His stats outside of Coors are that of a very average player. He’s an excellent 3B… maybe the best in baseball, but if he came to LA, you would not get same guy. He has a .305 OB% away from Coors.

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