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Left Side of Los Angeles Dodgers' Infield Struggling Mightily Without Hanley Ramirez

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Hanley Ramirez Should Join Yasiel Puig as All-Stars in New York, Representing the Los Angeles Dodgers
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Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers at Baltimore Orioles April 20, 2013.

COMMENTARY | The left side of the Los Angeles Dodgers' infield has been absolutely atrocious this season. Yes, Hanley Ramirez has been absent for all but four games, but this showed the lack of depth at the positions for the team.

The combination of Luis Cruz, Dee Gordon, Jerry Hairston, Nick Punto, Justin Sellers and Juan Uribe has been dreadful. Punto has been surprisingly good and Uribe has been the second-best of the bunch.

Left side futility

Dodger third basemen: .196/.289/.256

Dodger shortstops: .194/.280/.279

Once Ramirez returns -- where ever he plays -- the production will increase. And he could appear in rehab games as early as the weekend. But that doesn't solve the Dodgers' depth issue or the other infield position.

The team lacks legitimate options at the positions in the upper minors, hence guys like Cruz, Gordon and Sellers logging any extended playing time this season.

The Dodgers drafted Corey Seager in the first round of last year's draft. He's a shortstop for now, but the consensus is he'll move to third base down the road. The Dodgers also drafted Jesmuel Valentin and Darnell Sweeney -- both shortstops -- last year. So, the Dodger player development department sees the need to increase the talent and depth at the positions. Unfortunately, it's going to take time for those players to develop.

The Dodgers haven't had a legitimate third baseman since Casey Blake (at least the first two and a half years of his tenure in Los Angeles). Before that, it was Adrian Beltre. Before that, well, the most notable third basemen included Tim Wallach (in the twilight of his career) and Todd Zeile, who was around for all of 18 months.

Shortstop hasn't been as barren, thanks to the signing of Rafael Furcal prior to the 2006 season. Going forward, however, the Dodgers don't have the greatest plan in place.

Ramirez won't be able to stick at shortstop much longer because of his defense -- or lack thereof. Unless he starts hitting like the Ramirez of 2006 through 2010, he's not long for the position. Gordon, the Dodgers' top prospect just a few years ago, has failed as the team's shortstop of the future. It's unlikely he'll snap out of it. Despite having great athleticism and tools, it takes more than that to be a Major League shortstop.

The Dodgers don't need All-Stars at every position -- especially defense-first positions like shortstop -- but they do need quality bench options.

Punto has been fantastic this season, a phrase I never thought I'd say. Uribe has been at least passable. The rest haven't, and it's been a problem.

There's no guarantee Ramirez will play out the season without further issue. It took just four games for him to land back on the disabled list after missing the season's first month. If, God forbid, Ramirez goes down again for an extended period of time, the Dodgers might not be able to last with a Punto/Uribe/et al combination on the left side.

The trade options are limited, so an upgrade might have to wait until the winter. At the rate the Dodgers are going (21-28, 7.5 games out of first place), it might not matter.

Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.

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