Who's On Third? Betemit Or Andy LaRoche?

Lajoie is a former big league G.M., and who seems to have assumed the role that Don Welke did before Paul DePodesta pushed him out. Collectively, the group will lay their plans for the off-season- what free agents and/or trades to pursue, who's expendable in deals and who are the keepers.

One topic certain to be discussed is the future at third base. Wilson Betemit was acquired from the Braves, perhaps with the notion that he would be set there for a few years. Possibly that's still the thought but there was a major problem with Betemit this year- his inability to hit lefthanders.

Wilson's a switch-hitter who managed to hit only .138 against lefties while a Dodgers, just .211 before that with the Braves. Of his 18 home runs, three were hit off lefthanders. And that brings us to Andy LaRoche.

While there are certainly Betemit advocates in the organization, there are those that will tell you that they feel LaRoche will ultimately be better. Andy hit .309 with nine home runs at Jacksonville this summer, then went to Las Vegas and picked up the pace, hitting .322-10. That's a combined .315 with 19 home runs. He did that in just 117 games for he missed time with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

He's righthanded all the way and certainly had no problems with lefties, combing them for a .347 mark at Vegas. Only that shoulder injury kept him from a September call-up and he's since had it surgically repaired.

Of course, his marks were attained at a lower level but his promise is such that he can be put in the Loney, Kemp, Ethier class and you know what they've done. He has a balanced, quick stroke and can hit the ball out of any part of the park He has to overcome a tendency to get pull happy at times but seemed to be conquering that nicely this year. In the field, he's a converted shortstop with a superior arm and quick hands and feet.

There could be some talk of moving him to another position if they're happy with Betemit. He looks capable of playing first or the outfield although his third basing is such that the move would only be made to get both bats in the lineup. No, they'd probably move Betemit somewhere else, instead.

Don't forget Bill Mueller is still lurking out there someplace and he has a two-year deal and very much wants to come back for the second part. However, he hasn't been able to find a doctor that can get his knees in shape for the grind. There's no cartilage left and he seems certain to break down if he tries.

So, unless they go chasing off for Alex Rodriguez- and that isn't likely to happen- it's between Betemit and LaRoche as matters stand. Andy appears to be ready to supply some of the power that the team too often lacked this year for he's another who seems certain to deliver on the potential he's displayed.

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories