After finalizing their 25 man roster, the Los Angeles Dodgers surprised everyone by recalling Justin Sellers from the minor leagues. Sellers was optioned to the minors on March 19th. Major League Baseball allows their teams to move people around, but each team must be down to the 25 man roster before opening day. Why are they bringing him back?
The injury to Hanley Ramirez during the World Baseball Classic has been a setback to the Dodgers. Offensively, they lost a former National League batting champion, but what they really lost was a stronger defensive situation. With Ramirez out for two months, they were going to move Luis Cruz from third to shortstop and fill third base with utility men Nick Punto or Jerry Hairston Jr.
Manager Don Mattingly had a change of heart, “I’m looking for the best defensive club I can put out there. That’s the main thing. We have a pretty good pitching staff, and I want us to catch the ball for these guys.” Simply put, Sellers is a better defensive shortstop than Cruz, and Cruz is a better defensive third baseman than the other guys. That’s exactly what Mattingly is looking for.
But is recalling Sellers the best decision for the Dodgers offensively? Sellers has a pitiful .204 BA. He doesn’t even compare to all the other infielders that could play short or third. If Cruz was moved to shortstop, he has a .270 BA and hit .297 last year. All the other third basemen have better batting averages, Juan Uribe .251 BA, Punto .247 BA, and Hairston is a .259 BA career hitter.
Obviously Mattingly must know something we don’t and feels defense is the best decision for the team. But it is going to be really difficult for the Dodgers to replace Ramirez at the plate. We will see if Sellers stays up for that two month gap.