Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dodgers Add Angel Berroa, Call Up Andy LaRoche

Impatient with infielder Chin-Lung Hu’s .159 batting average, and surely confused at times by what appeared to be a 13-year-old boy from Taiwan playing shortstop, General Manager Ned Colletti finally addressed the shortstop position Friday.

The Dodgers acquired former competent shortstop Angel Berroa, who failed to make the Kansas City Royals out of spring training and was demoted to the minors.

Berroa captured the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2003, but has since struggled. Before the trade, he was hitting .291 with 10 home runs in 189 at bats at Triple A Omaha (whoopdeedoo!). The first place Diamondbacks are no doubt shaking in their boots.

All that said, this is not a bad trade for the Dodgers. When starting shortstop Rafael Furcal returns from injury, Berroa will assume a utility role and strengthen the Dodgers bench. Until then, the Dodgers are not likely to get much offensive production out of the shortstop position.

Management had planned to ensure that Berroa could handle the starting shortstop job before demoting Hu to Triple A Las Vegas. One would think that Colletti would have at least liked to see Berroa get on base before he made any decisions, but not striking out in every at-bat sufficed, as the Dodgers demoted Hu on Monday after Berroa went 0-3 Sunday with two strikeouts.

The good news for Dodger fans is that rookie infielder Andy LaRoche is taking Hu’s roster spot. LaRoche is a highly regarded prospect, rated by Baseball America as the second best player in the Dodgers system, behind phenom starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

Although fellow rookie Blake Dewitt has a firm grasp on the third base job for the time being, LaRoche has been playing a lot of second base at Triple A Las Vegas, and has played first base and outfield in the past.

With first baseman James Loney’s recent slump, 40-year-old second baseman Jeff Kent’s age, Dewitt’s youth, and outfielder Matt Kemp’s looming suspension, LaRoche should be seeing some playing time, especially against lefties. He also becomes the Dodger’s primary right-handed pinch hitter. Whatever his role, LaRoche is hopefully in Los Angeles to stay.

UPDATE: LaRoche started at first tonight and homered off Randy Wolf in his second plate appearance since being recalled.