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The Los Angeles Dodgers Options to Be a Spark Plug

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COMMENTARY| Coming into the season, the expectations were high for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A new ownership group with seemingly no spending limit. New stars on the field and old stars returning from injuries. Even some promising names working their way up through the minor leagues, even if they wouldn't help in 2013.

Even the first game of the season seemed a great omen: Clayton Kershaw pitched a complete game shutout. And then he capped it off with a solo home run to lead the Dodgers to victory -- over the Dodgers' biggest rivals, the San Francisco Giants.

It was an auspicious start to the season -- and could prove to be the high point of the entire season if things don't turn around.

Except for Kershaw continuing to be the best left-hander in the game, almost nothing else has gone right for the Dodgers. Which means something needs to be shaken up.

A trade seems unlikely -- there isn't much that the Dodgers have in the farm system to get a third baseman or second baseman unless management wants to gut the system. With Stan Kasten preaching homegrown talent as the way ahead, seeing Zach Lee, Joc Pederson and other top prospects going to another team seems remote at best.

That means bringing someone from the farm system up.

Tim Federowicz

I have already laid out my case for bringing Tim Federowicz up to back up AJ Ellis. If anything, Federowicz has only made the case clearer. He was named the PCL Player of the Week for the week ending on May 5.

His line for the season as a whole now stands at .531/.561/1.082. He has hit seven home runs, second on the team to Scott Van Slyke's 9 -- in half the at-bats of Van Slyke.

But Federowicz would be, at best, a backup and so not a consistent spark plug. But he still should be up on the Dodgers.

Scott Van Slyke

Van Slyke is one of the less-likely candidates to be called up, but perhaps should be called up to at least be a pinch hitter.

Van Slyke has massive power, blasting 9 home runs while in Class AAA Albuquerque. He also has shown patience at the plate when pitchers decide they don't want to deal with him -- he already has 22 walks this season.

With Adrian Gonzalez showing himself to be somewhat frail and missing a few games with neck soreness, Van Slyke would be the ideal candidate to give Gonzalez an occasional day off.

However, Van Slyke is not on the 40-man roster, which means it would take some roster manipulation (and a pay raise) to get him in Dodgers blue.

Yasiel Puig

It didn't take long for Dodgers fans to start to call for Yasiel Puig to be called up. He is on the 40-man roster and has shown huge power and speed.

He also has less than 50 professional baseball games to his name (not counting Spring Training this year) and is extremely raw. He is feasting on Class AA pitching, hitting .306/.367/.597 with five home runs.

But he would have a hard time getting regular playing time on the Dodgers, even with most of the Dodgers outfield struggling. The odds of Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier being benched are about the same as Chad Billingsley's elbow spontaneously healing itself.

But if an injury comes, Puig might get a taste of the big leagues like Kemp did in 2006.

Alex Castellanos

Alex Castellanos has bad timing. He was placed on the 7-day disabled list (something available in the minor leagues) and still isn't healthy enough to throw according to Albuquerque Isotopes beat writer Chris Jackson.

Even if he were going to come up, he would be a corner outfielder (the second base experiment has been abandoned) who hasn't shown the ability to consistently hit major league pitching.

Elian Herrera

Veteran minor leaguer Elian Herrera was Luis Cruz before Luis Cruz. A career minor leaguer who was called up to the major leagues who had a hot start to his career -- but then reverted back to minor league numbers.

Herrera isn't tearing the cover off the ball in Albuquerque (.250/.310/.336), but he has the versatility to play multiple positions -- something the Dodgers have shown a preference for in recent years. And, of course, he is on the 40-man roster.

These are the meager options the Dodgers have to spark their season. The Dodgers' best option for a spark plug is probably Van Slyke. Federowicz should also be called up to back up AJ Ellis. Puig would bring excitement, but the odds of that happening seem almost nil.

All that said? I'm preparing for Ned Colletti and company to bring up Herrera.

Matthew Reichbach is a freelance writer and lifelong follower of the Dodgers from their minor league affiliates to the major league club.

You can follow Matthew on Twitter at @3_2count.

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