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FutureStarrFour Ways to Replace Gavin Lux
Gavin Lux's season-ending torn ACL is a devastating loss for the Dodgers, who had drafted him as their starting shortstop in 2016. After being selected with the second overall pick in 2016, they had high hopes that he would be healthy throughout this year.
Now the question arises - who could succeed him? There are several potential successors, including veteran Jose Iglesias.
On Monday, Gavin Lux tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, leaving the Dodgers with an important gap to fill. He had been expected to start at shortstop this season; however, with this injury they must consider other options for the position.
First, the team could consider Miguel Rojas as a possible replacement for Lux at shortstop. The former Marlins shortstop boasts extensive major-league experience and an excellent defensive reputation.
Rojas, who has only been with the Dodgers for one year, has proven to be an outstanding defender. His speed and range at shortstop give him a good chance to start at that position next season.
Rojas was acquired from the Marlins in a trade this winter. He had been part of their regular shortstop rotation for four years and has exhibited great leadership both on and off the field.
His bat has seen improvement the past two seasons, yet he still hasn't reached the same level of consistency he showed in 2022 when he hit a career-high 129 games and slashed 276/.346/.399 (97 wRC+). Additionally, his production had slowed after suffering through a cold streak in September and October; however, overall his production remained impressive nonetheless.
Rojas would be an ideal addition to Los Angeles, helping to ease some of the uncertainty in the infield that had already arisen after Justin Turner's departure. While top prospect Miguel Vargas is expected to take over at second base for the Dodgers, Rojas could potentially find room in their lineup.
Chris Taylor is another potential replacement for Lux, a 32-year-old veteran with one disappointing but injury-marred season under his belt. Although not the ideal replacement, Taylor can provide league average hitting and an above-average glove at shortstop.
The Dodgers don't have a wealth of shortstop prospects on their roster, so they may need to look outside the organization for someone to fill the void in the middle. While there are limited free-agent options, veteran Jose Iglesias could be just what the doctor ordered.
On Monday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost a key component to their future when Gavin Lux suffered a torn ACL during their Cactus League game against the San Diego Padres. This injury is expected to keep Lux out for the entirety of 2023 season - an immense setback for an already struggling squad.
Lux was a top prospect and potential breakout candidate for the Dodgers this year, as he displayed an impressive K-BB profile, impressive defensive grades and an optimistic outlook in his first Major League season. After a slow start, Lux quickly showed improvement - leading to pride among Dodgers management in having their young star reach the majors so early.
Unfortunately, his performance and pedigree were hindered by injuries, particularly to his knees. In 2021 he spent most of the year with a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his right knee which forced him to shift over to second base when Corey Seager went down, as well as limited time at shortstop.
Now that Lux has been forced to spend the entire year on the disabled list, the Dodgers have an ideal opportunity to utilize Taylor in the middle of their lineup and give him more regular playing time. Taylor is a versatile player with plenty of left-handed power who can fill multiple positions for them in the lineup.
Over his six seasons with the Dodgers, Taylor has started at six different positions and demonstrated versatility and durability at each one. He's played outfield, shortstop, and second base alike and been a reliable contributor in each one.
After spending some time with Driveline Baseball this offseason, Taylor's bat speed has shown improvement and could provide more depth at shortstop than Miguel Rojas. Even if Taylor doesn't offer the same offensive potential as Rojas, he still offers an effective option at shortstop with a strong track record of playing every day in the minors.
With the loss of Lux, the Dodgers' infield appears thinner and less well-rounded than it has in recent years, necessitating them to add a new player. Fortunately, there are several players who could step up to meet this challenge.
Lux is out for the season after suffering a torn right ACL during Monday night's Cactus League game. The Dodgers had expected Lux to fill in as their primary shortstop this year following the free-agent departures of Corey Seager and Trea Turner; however, it appears that will no longer be the case now that he's injured.
The Dodgers may look internally to fill the shortstop vacancy, a position where they possess plenty of depth and experience. One potential candidate is Miguel Rojas, who played all season at this position last year and can serve as an everyday shortstop if necessary.
They could also look to Chris Taylor, who started 259 major-league games last year and boasts plenty of MLB experience in general. Although coming off an injury-marred season, Taylor still boasts a solid batting average, impressive power numbers, and fast outfield speed.
It's worth noting that the Dodgers have plenty of depth at shortstop in the minors, with several talented players within the organization. They could consider trading for an experienced player such as Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Willy Adames (an unsigned free agent), or San Francisco Giants second baseman Michael Busch, who is in his first big-league season after playing most of his career at third base.
However, the Dodgers may opt to keep Miguel Rojas as their backup shortstop. He was brought in as a depth option behind Lux and already has some impressive glovework at this position: 15 defensive runs saved and 10 outs above average in 2022.
Rojas has also demonstrated his versatility by playing both left and right-handed side of the infield. As such, he makes for an excellent option for the Dodgers.
Another possible contender to consider is Miguel Vargas, the youngest person ever to win the world light middleweight title until Saul Alvarez took home the WBC belt in March 2011. He's affectionately known as "The Aztec Warrior," a nod to his hometown of Oxnard, California.
He's a tough character known for his high energy and charismatic nature. He's one of the funniest guys in the sport, often getting crowds cheering with his fights. Additionally, he is an excellent storyteller and all-around talent.
Los Angeles Dodgers mustn't risk being without Gavin Lux, their top shortstop prospect. Unfortunately, he has already missed all of 2023 due to a torn ACL, making this season an immense loss for a team expected to be dominant in the West.
The good news for Los Angeles Dodgers fans is that they have plenty of options to fill Lux's void. They can add depth through free agency or a minor-league deal, and they have no problem adding players through waivers as well.
If the Dodgers don't plan to rely on free agents, they could look towards their own young players for replacements. There are several young infielders who could fill Lux's shoes and help the team win games at the Major League level.
Michael Busch is one of those candidates, a 23-year-old infielder currently playing for Double-A Tulsa. He's highly sought-after due to his powerful bat and potential power to hit for average.
Busch is an impressive runner and thrower, which will make him a valuable defensive second baseman in the Major League. With good Spring Training performances, Busch could crack into the Major League roster at some point during 2023.
Meanwhile, it's essential for him to find success in the minors. This is his best shot at earning a place on the Major League roster in years ahead.
Busch would then have the opportunity to start at second base or left field, providing enough evidence for manager Dave Roberts and general manager Andrew Friedman to give him a shot at starting for the long haul. Thus, it appears that the Dodgers may be willing to commit long-term to Busch.
The Dodgers have other potential breakout stars on their roster, and it will be up to them to decide which ones will play the most significant role for their team next season. Whether it's Shohei Ohtani, Jonathan Villar or Didi Gregorius - there are a lot of talented infielders out there who could help the Dodgers compete this year.
On Tuesday, Uno Foods, the consumer-product side of deep dish pizza chain Uno Pizzeria & Grill, was acquired by Great Kitchens Food Company. As part of the agreement, Great Kitchens will take over Uno's Brockton pizza factory which employs fewer than 100 personnel.
The new owner plans to invest in the Massachusetts facility, with the goal of expanding Uno's frozen pizza distribution across America.
Great Kitchens Food Company, a division of Greenwich-based private equity firm Brynwood Partners, is the latest company to take an interest in Uno's frozen pizza business. Recently, they announced they had acquired Uno Foods brand from Newport Global Advisors - a Texas investment firm.
Uno Pizzas are renowned for their Chicago deep dish pizzas. Additionally, it offers thin crust and gluten-free options as well as a full menu featuring entrees like stuffed chicken breast or cheese steaks.
Established in 1943 by Ike Sewell, Uno has since become a beloved global brand. Their signature Chicago deep dish pizza is made with all-natural dough and sauce for an unbelievably buttery crust that's packed with authentic Italian spices.
Today, Uno serves more than 130 restaurants and its Uno Foods brand can be found in supermarkets and convenience stores nationwide. Furthermore, the company manufactures various other food products like French bread, potato skins, mini quesadillas, meat balls with sauce and jalapeo stuffed peppers.
At its 40,000ft2 production facility in Massachusetts, it has earned certification as a GFSI and USDA-approved CN Label operation. Its branded frozen pizzas include Hawaiian-style, four cheese and pepperoni, as well as chicken Italiano.
Hartong reported that their crostini and shrimp Florentine stuffed mushrooms are among the top selling appetizers in the industry. Furthermore, they recently added a PowerPhasePLUS (Safeline) metal detection system to their portfolio, which will enable them to expand operations at an unprecedented speed.
This company is one of the top producers of take-and-bake pizzas in North America, providing major food service operators with frozen products for supermarkets and restaurants across America. With two main facilities located in Chicago Heights and Romeoville, Illinois, the business employs 700 people.
Brynwood Partners is a private equity firm that invests in lower middle market consumer products, business services and light manufacturing companies. Additionally, the Company conducts acquisitions, restructurings and corporate divestitures.
Portfolio companies of the Company include Buitoni Food Company, Great Kitchens and Carolina Beverage Group. All three firms produce take-and-bake pizzas and sauces that are sold to grocery, club and mass retailers alike.
Richelieu Foods, a leading supplier of private label frozen pizzas and sauces as well as salad dressings, has four plants located in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin (pizza); Wheeling, Illinois (cold press pizza crusts); Washington Court House, Ohio (sauces and dressings); and Grundy Center, Iowa (ice cream). With over 1,000 employees across these facilities.
Recently, De Wafelbakkers, the world's largest manufacturer of frozen pancakes and syrup carriers, completed its acquisition. William Blair served as the exclusive financial advisor for this deal.
The deal underscores the firm's strategy of reviving brands that have been abandoned by large food manufacturers due to their niche positioning in slow-growing categories. They boast an impressive track record for successful acquisitions and restructurings.
Early this year, Nestle completed five acquisitions. Additionally, it acquired Joseph's, the maker of Turtles and Flipz confectionery-coated pretzels, as well as Back to Nature Foods Co., LLC - a top U.S. marketer of Back to Nature natural foods products such as crackers, cookies, nuts and granolas.
Brynwood's other portfolio companies include Pearson Candy Company, which produces Pearson's Mints, Salted Nut Rolls, Nut Goodies and Bit-O-Honey. Their products can be found in major retailers nationwide.
Another recent acquisition was Great Kitchens, a take-and-bake frozen pizza company headquartered in Romeoville, Illinois and operating a 165,000 square foot crust and topping plant in Chicago Heights. Their products are sold to grocery, club and mass retailers nationwide as well as foodservice outlets.
Brynwood Partners purchased Stella D'Oro Biscuit Company, a Bronx-based snack food maker known for Fiddle Faddle and Poppycock cookies, in 2006. That year they sold Stella D'Oro to Lance Inc. of Charlotte, which manufactures Cape Cod Potato Chips and Archway Cookies among other snacks.
Uno Foods, a subsidiary of Uno Restaurant Holdings Corporation, is an American frozen pizza manufacturer and distributor. Their branded and private label products can be found in supermarkets, club stores and restaurants throughout the US; its main items being deep-dish/thin crust pizza, artisan crust pizza, pasta dishes, sandwiches salads and appetizers.
Uno brand has grown exponentially from its humble origins as a small, neighborhood pizzeria in 1943. Owned by Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo, the restaurant quickly gained notoriety for its Chicago-style deep dish pizza that it claims to have invented.
A weak economy in the 1990s led to a decrease in restaurant sales, but Uno bounced back. It quickly became one of the country's top pizza restaurants and attracted other major figures from restaurant industry including Art Gunther (former president of Pizza Hut); J. Jeffrey Campbell (ex-Pillsbury Restaurant Group chairman); Jeff Grayson (former President General Mills); Louis Neeb (ex-chairman Burger King); and Stanley Nippon (former executive at McDonald's).
After many successful years of franchising, Spencer formed Uno Restaurant Corporation to manage all company-owned and franchised units. He also added to the corporate team by hiring Frank Guidara, former president and CEO of Au Bon Pain.
Uno is a national franchise, providing economies of scale to purchase items at lower costs for its franchisees. Furthermore, Uno provides various support systems and technology which can help minimize operating expenses.
Furthermore, its 'Crunch Time' system enables restaurant owners to monitor food and beverage costs in real time. This technology has the potential to save them up to 40% on operating expenses.
The company's headquarters is situated in Boston, Massachusetts. It operates a retail store there and a frozen food facility in New Jersey, as well as having its own fleet of delivery trucks. Furthermore, the chain has branches at airports, movie theaters, hotels and travel plazas across America.
Uno currently operates over 100 locations nationwide and plans to open more than 50 by 2022. Its two primary franchise concepts are UNO Pizzeria & Grill and Uno Due GO, both offering an extensive menu of Chicago-style deep dish pizza, thin crust pizza, flatbreads, pasta salads sandwiches and 'build your own' chopped salad stations.
On Tuesday, Connecticut-based private equity firm Brynwood Partners announced the acquisition of Uno Foods - the consumer products page of deep-dish pizza chain Uno Pizzeria & Grill - from Uno Foods. This facility in Brockton produces Chicago-style frozen pizzas and forms part of Great Kitchens Food Company's strategy to expand in this segment, according to Henk Hartong, CEO and chairman of Brynwood Partners.
Chris Zelch, director of product development for Nestle's frozen pizza division, believes Wisconsin is a national frozen pizza mecca, boasting leading brands such as DiGiorno, Tombstone and Jack's all made here. And Wisconsinites have an insatiable appetite for frozen 'za - according to Zelch.
Wisconsin's cold climate, low humidity and temperatures during production all work together to keep ingredients fresh and prevent waste, according to Schneider.
At the start of March, Home Run Inn decided to reduce their production schedule at their Appleton facility from seven days per week to six days a week. This decision came after one month of slow restaurant sales during the crisis which allowed them to stockpile inventory and shift the balance in their favor, Perrino informed reporters last week.
With the COVID-19 crisis behind them, 73-year-old family-owned company has turned their focus towards growing its frozen pizza business. According to company president Bob LeBlanc, they're producing around 78,000 pizzas daily - up about 30% from pre-pandemic production levels.
According to Hedstrom, the company is also producing frozen sausage and pepperoni pies as a specialty item in response to increased demand from local grocery stores. This move aims to boost revenue generated from frozen pizza operations - currently responsible for 75 percent of overall revenue - further.
Fechter notes that while catering is a small part of their business, they're looking for ways to expand it. That could include adding an assembly line for custom-designed pies or expanding the freezers at their current facility so they can accommodate more than 100 pounds of dough.