With every indication that Hanley Ramirez will be returning to the Dodger line-up as early as this coming Tuesday (on Hanley Ramirez bobble head night, no less), the Dodgers will have to make a corresponding roster move. The question is – who stays and who goes?
Because Tim Federowicz, who was brought up exclusively for the three interleague games against the Orioles, was just sent back down to Triple-A to make room for returning left-hander Ted Lilly, chances are that it will be either Justin Sellers or Luis Cruz who gets a one way ticket to Albuquerque.
There is little doubt that Cruz is the better defender at third base and Sellers at shortstop, so the ultimate decision will most likely come down to where the Dodgers plan to put Ramirez in the infield.
During spring training Dodger manager Don Mattingly said that Ramirez would at least begin the season at shortstop and they would see how that went; of course this was before Ramirez was injured in the final game of the World Baseball Classic. And even though there is no indication that Mattingly has changed his mind about this, it may be a better idea to have Ramirez play third base instead of short because of his limited range and what will undoubtedly be a reluctance to dive for balls – something that he did not particularly like doing even before his recent injury.
From an offensive standpoint, Sellers appears to be heating up a little and narrowly missed his second home run of the season in Wednesday night’s embarrassing loss to the Mets. In contrast, Cruz’s bat has gone from cold to ice cold. On the young season, Sellers is 11 for 51 (.216) with a home run and 2 RBIs while Cruz is a pathetic 4 for 46 (.086) with no home runs and 1 RBI. I don’t care how good you are with a glove, an .086 batting average almost a month into the season is unacceptable on the major league level.
Additionally, it’s not as though Sellers cannot play third base. In fact, he played four errorless games at the position during spring training 2012 and three errorless games this past spring. On the other hand, Luis Cruz has proven that he can play either position exceptionally well and we would not even be having this discussion if he were hitting even .200; but he is not and he very well may be forcing Mattingly’s hand in this decision.
We should know more within the next couple of days which way Mattingly is leaning on this inevitable (and tough) decision, but if Sellers continues to heat up at the plate and Cruz does not, it will be a no-brainer.