Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Dodgers Offseason Plan

This is the time of the year when it’s fun to do the “this is what I would do” exercise and, this year, I will make the attempt. I don’t consider myself to be an expert of any kind but I am a fan with a few ideas. A lot of my suggestions are tempered to fit reality (i.e. Andre Ethier will remain in right for some ungodly reason) but, if I seem too far off-base, I will try to explain my rationale.

There are a lot of holes in the field while the pitching staff is nearly set. Keeping Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda around while having Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley on hand, developing themselves, should give any fan of the Dodgers hope for the coming year, As it went with the Giants: if they can find a way to score runs, they could do some damage. Without further adieu, here is..the plan!

Don’t spend a thing on the bullpen: Forget the Chan-Ho Parks and the Jason Frasor’s of the world because the Dodgers aren’t missing a closer. The Dodgers have enough talent in house for them to have a full bullpen. If they find themselves lacking a Ronald Belisario (for the third time), try Josh Lindblom for Chrissakes! Jonathan Broxton will be the closer because he has to be. Hong-Chih Kuo and Kenley Jansen are some high-leverage guys and there are many more familiar names and role-players that can comprise a major-league bullpen.

Money spent on a bullpen is wasted money. See the Octavio Dotel acquisition. That was subtraction by addition.

Do everything to get Adam Dunn: He will probably prove to be expensive but he could be a valuable left-fielder and an even better first baseman. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs crowdsourced Dunn’s value at $12 to 12.4 million/year and a 3 year contract is the probable amount of years. Utlimately, I would want Dunn to be a first baseman but, with James Loney around, Dunn would have to play left until the middle of the season, where a desperate team could take a chance at him and the Dodgers could get more out of him then than they would now. Get him, get him, get him and try to work it out.

Now, I can go two different directions. Let’s assume for now that the Dodgers didn’t get him because I don’t think anymore talk about the 1st base and left field positions will be fruitful. Either way, the Dodgers have what they do. I would bet that the Dodgers don’t get him and that is the assumption we will make. Ok, I will continue.

Get Jose Lopez if he becomes available: He had a bad year but he is great at 2B and 3B on defense. I would think that putting him back at second while giving him at least 40 starts at third is the way to go. In a pinch, he can even play first. That Seattle clubhouse wasn’t good for anyone last year and a change of sce while remaining on the West Coast could be what Lopez needs to get back to hitting 40 doubles and 20 home runs. I wouldn’t expect magic but he is 27 and he isn’t far removed from success.

If Lopez is aboard, you also have Carroll and Blake on hand, which may make for a good and supplementary blend for the infield. If Lopez is not available, Orlando Hudson might be an option again. I am also thinking Nick Punto would be a last-ditch option. That would make Jamey Carroll more of a factor. That isn’t ideal but he wasn’t the problem last year, was he? 

Out Of Left Field: If Dunn is not a Dodger, left field may not be the strongest position but a mix of Blake, Gibbons and Paul might be what you have. The only alternatives I have to Dunn are players the Dodgers can’t trade for. I want Luke Scott to be a Dodger and I think they should try to get him but I don’t see it happening. If Blake is playing left too much, the Dodgers could try to get Wilson Betemit, who could platoon with Blake or Lopez. I had poo-pooed the notion of getting him again but it wasn't as long ago as you think when he was let go by the Dodgers and he did well last year with the Royals. I wouldn't play him every day but he also provides some positional flexinility and, hey, it's not like the Dodgers didn't just do the Royals a favor by trading for Podsednik. 

Bail on Russell Martin: Man, I really liked him as a Dodger but his time has come. He is expensive and in decline despite his value in the field. I don’t have a great alternative but A.J Ellis combined with Rod Barajas or Catcher X might just be the way a team has to go. It was a real luxury to not have to punt the catcher’s spot in the lineup as an NL team but retreads are all the Dodgers have. I would try for AJ Pierzynski, Yorvit Torrealba then Matt Treanor. As a concurrent White Sox fan, I know what I am getting into with AJ and I would be alright with him being a Dodger.

Back To The Rotation: I think every MLB team needs to have seven starters at their disposal at the start of the season. With the Dodgers, they have the big 4 as well as John Ely and Carlos Monasterios. Ely could be the Dodgers 5th starter but they could find a veteran arm with about the same potential for cheap to fill in.

The 5th starter has way too much importance placed on the position. The 5th starter is a slot, not an actual pitcher. It can change several times throughout the season. There will be some arms waiting in the wings in the late part of the winter in 2011 and the Dodgers can find one or invite a couple to training camp. The free agent list isn’t encouraging but I think Rodrigo Lopez or Jeremy Bonderman may do well in Dodger Stadium. In addition, the Dodgers can dredge up a washed-up pitcher (not named Ortiz) and make him well again and the rotation should be covered. 

The resulting moves materialize as such:

Best-case scenario:

Furcal, ss; Kemp, cf; Dunn, lf; Ethier, rf; Lopez, 2b; Blake, 3b; Loney, 1b; AJ Piers, c

What I project:

Psych! I don’t know what Ned will do.

Plausible lineup:

Furcal,ss; Kemp cf; Burrell lf; Ethier, rf; Blake 3b; Loney 1b; Theriot, 2b; Barajas/Ellis c

Doom and gloom:

Podsednik, lf; Theriot, 2b; Furcal ss; Ethier rf; Blake 3b; Kemp cf; Loney, 1b; Ellis/Barajas c


Bottom line, the Dodgers have pitching but they are going to have to score runs. The Dodgers will have to rely on making a few free agent gambles and they will have a low margin for error but the team isn’t hopeless. They are getting the change of pace they need in the manager role and hopefully that induces success and confidence for Matt Kemp and provides a better clubhouse atmosphere than last year.

The team has some holes to patch but as long as they are properly corrected and the team is managed properly, the team will have a chance to be back in the NL West race.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ausmus not a coach, not a Dodger

In all the shuffle of coaches and personnel in the Dodgers organization, we know of one retired player that won't be a coach for the Dodgers - Brad Ausmus. He is now a part of the Padres' baseball operations. Good for him and good for the Dodgers too. Sure, he may amount to something as a manager or in the front office and I hope he does. He isn't going to be a veteran catcher that will teach the youngsters on the Dodgers and he won't waste the Dodgers' (or another teams') time as a back-up catcher.

Buster Posey came up from the Minors to take the catching job from Bengie Molina and they traded Molina, a veteran catcher, You know what the Giants did? They won the damn World Series. The Dodgers and every other organization has enough coaches. The Dodgers need players that can do their job and fill in when necessary. The Dodgers don't need talking points, cliches and grindy players with competitive attitudes. They need talent and  they need players with real abilities.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This Makes Me Sick

The Los Angeles Dodgers have exercised their part of Scott Podsednik's option. He can still save us all by choosing to dive into free agency. Please, Pods - just go!

He isn't versatile (he can only realistically play left and isn't even good at that - UZR in LF in 2008-10 :-0.9, -0.2, -8.4), he is fast but he's a bad baserunner (he was 35 for 50 in SB% this year) and he's old.

Andre Ethier belongs in left and the Dodgers need to acquire a player with more power. Pods is easier to stomach than Theriot but Ned will keep Theriot and, if Furcal is hurt again, we get the Pods-Riot 1-2. Back to the old grind(ers), I guess.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Proxy rooting interests and the World Series

So far, I am enjoying watching the World Series. The games are long but my interest is there. It's still a bummer that my teams (Dodgers WSox) aren't in the WS but I am enjoying watching how the teams in the Series are playing the game. The Giants have done a better job (as their series lead shows) at doing what they do best: pitching. They are finding ways to make runs and quieting a Rangers club with a strong offense.

The Giants are the classic case of a team that gets into the playoffs and happen to get hot. Their pitching performs as expected and they are riding hot bats. On one hand, the Giants are not the team that I am rooting for because I would rather they lose. However, if the Giants win, I won't be distraught because the Phillies didn't win.

Though I tend to be on the liberal side of the vast majority of issues, I am not taking part in the proxy rooting war of the liberal side, the free-and-easy, kind-smoking, sustainable San Francisco Giants versus the Bush-represented, Lone Star, publicly-funded ballparked (lazy wordage, I know) Texas Rangers. I am going for the Rangers and I don't care who benefits from them winning. I want San Francisco to lose because I don't like them.

I have many external reasons to hate sports teams. I am impressed with the Phillies as a club but I hate their fan base and I hope that the 2008 WS is their last. I hate the Cubs because they are losers and their fan base perpetuates their losing ways (they did historically but not so much recently, though; I still hate the Cubs). And that is just external reasons in baseball. I am way more factious in my NFL viewing. Being factious, judgemental and holding grudges is a lot of the fun in watching sports.

The reasons why I am not getting in on the proxy rooting war are that a) I don't like to let politics infiltrate my sports consumption, b) Texas winning or losing doesn't affect the lives of the people who would be afflicted with joy/disappointment all that much and c) my dislike for the Giants is higher than my desire to root for that infliction of disappointment.

Yes, that means that in my baseball world a viewing of a well-played series>Giants WS loss>Bush family & conservative Texas fans' disappointment

One of the reasons why I like sports so much is that it is a system that lends itself to be analyzed and one that I have been familiar with for most of my life and the outcome of the events are entertaining at best and disappointing at worst. Politics have about the same ceiling but the floor of disappointing can be on the level of devastating (nuclear war, etc.) and the outcome political decisions have a real outcome on our lives. The injected political aspect of this World Series has little to no advantage except to reinforce our political opinions and the dislike for the oppositions' opinions.

I am entertained that the proxy war is a something, as insignificant as it is. Like most contests, the peripherals of the event will fade with time. This Series, I am watching because of what the game has to offer.