Friday, January 21, 2011

Dodger Left Field Platoon Solidified But Not Solid

The funniest part about this whole situation is that it takes a 34 year old washed up Oriole to get Ned excited about using his farm system. Xavier Paul: summarily ignored. Ivan DeJesus: not a chance. Chin-Lung Hu: he's no Juan Castro. Not that I think these guys need to (or needed to) be handed a starting job but it is clear that Ned is terrified of giving a young player a chance to have a spot on the roster.

I am OK with Marcus Thames as the right side of the left field platoon. It would be better if he batted left-handed so he could get the majority of at-bats but I think he should get some chances against RHP's because I don't think Gibbons is going to be good enough to face every righty.

I would say that we should put our hopes in Trayvon Robinson knocking on the door by June but it would involve Ned making that call. This is a guy who stuck with Garret Anderson for over four months.

The combination of Thames and Gibbons may hit league average but the defense is going to suffer again. Manny was bad in the field but you could deal with it because of his bat. Gibbons has a lifetime -1.3 UZR/150 in the field and Thames' UZR/150 is -7.6. As bad as Andre Ethier is in the field, the outfield could have used an upgrade in that department and, instead, it got old. Sure, there is a chance that Tony Gwynn Jr. comes in and takes a good amount of playing time, thus improving the outfield's defense but he has to get on base.

As much as the Dodgers need power, I will probably be focusing more on James Loney. If he can come back to life, the Dodgers won't need Jay Gibbons or Marcus Thames to much more than hit behind Loney and try to knock him in.

One thing that is reassuring in this is that Ned has dropped his love of the slappy and grindy players. The best thing that Gibbons and Thames do is hit home runs. They probably won't hit a lot but unlike Scott Podsednik and Ryan Theriot, you can expect to see Gibbons, Thames, Juan Uribe and Rod Barajas to hit home runs in relative regularity,

Other than Bill Plaschke, it is hard to find a fan of the current version of the Dodgers left handed platoon. Matt Klaassen doesn't buy Jay Gibbons at all, MTSI is not a fan of the deal, look around and it is hard to find  much support for a guy who had 80 plate appearances in garbage time and, while Thames is better, he doesn't seem to be a guy who can take the position away from anyone else since he never did so with the Tigers and Yankees.

I don't see doom and gloom in left field - just disappointment.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chad Billingsley and Yankee interest (?)

I don't think that Chad Billingsley is going anywhere but it's not a lock with the Yankees still needing pitching. They decided to go heavy in the bullpen but they have a glut of some impressive prospects and Joba Chamberlain's stock is about as low as it can be.

CBillz and the Dodgers have agreed to a contract for this year at $3.85 million and the Dodgers have arbitration rights for the 2012 season as well. It's unlikely that the Dodgers would give up Billingsley with two cheap years left unless the Yankees made it worth their while.

I am not advocating for CBillz to leave the Dodgers. I still believe that he can reach 200 strikeouts again, continue whittling down his career-low WHIP (1.278) and continue cutting down his walks. I'm just saying that if the Yankees are thinking of dangling Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances or Andrew Brackman among other prospects in their farm system, the deal may be more enticing.

It's just food for thought on this January day before the NFL Divisional Playoff Round kicks off. I have high hopes for Chad and I think he will stay a Dodger for at least this year. Remember, it took Billingsley a while to get going because of his hip injury in the last off-season. This year, he should have the benefit of health and he should resemble the pitcher he was the second half rather than the first.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My 2011 Hall of Famers

I go with the less is more approach. If I had a ballot, I would vote Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven for sure. I've looked at the numbers of the rest and I see a large collection of great players for a long time. I don't buy most of their cases though they had great careers.

Let's consider Tim Raines. Rickey Henderson really does overshadow Raines but it shouldn't diminish the grand numbers Rock put up (6 years of 70+ steals, >80% SB/SBA). His best season, 1981, wasn't a full one but he still managed to get 71 steals. He finished with a .294/.385/.425 slash line and 123 OPS+. What sets him apart from a lot of the other HOF candidates is putting him in doesn't mean that you have to put other players like Kenny Lofton and the like in. Still he doesn't have the WAR that the shortstops below do.

Barry Larkin is a struggle for me. I am saying no to Alan Trammell, though his case is compelling but Larkin had a lot going for him. He won an MVP in 1995, he had more walks than strikeouts, stole a base above an 80% clip and is most similar to Alan Trammell.

All in all, I am going to go with less is more. Blyleven and Alomar are the only ones I would vote in. If your list is long, be happy I don't have a vote. I like to keep the HOF special and I would be all for removing players from it rather than adding.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Michael Young to be Available?

With the Texas Rangers apparently close to signing free agent 3B Adrian Beltre, Michael Young could move to the Rangers. He could also be traded. Young isn't a great fielder but he isn't traditional DH material (though I would consider DHing him) and they may want to get some of those millions they are paying to Beltre. Selling Young would be taking a loss on his actual value but I don't think that the Rangers are inclined to care because they are trying to take another shot at the World Series.

The Dodgers could use an upgrade at 3B. Casey Blake could move to left where he can be the righty-masher in a platoon with Jay Gibbons. Not great but that is much better than anything the Dodgers have lined up. Young is under contract with the Rangers for three more years at $16 million per year. I think given his worth for the first two years of the contract ($32 mil), they are going to have to send some cash with him wherever he goes.

Young is 34 so Ned probably already wants him on the team, he has been worth 21.8 WAR since 2004 when he first showed up on the MVP ballot and he still hits for power. However, the Dodgers probably can't afford him even if they had some cash thrown their way in the deal. Chad Billingsley would be a bold move but I don't think that the Dodgers should give him up in a deal with Young unless the Dodgers get a prospect as well.

Michael Young would be a good fit for the Dodgers. Perhaps if Ned hadn't brought a $4 million reliever on board, a $3.25 million on an old catcher or a $7 million Juan Uribe, Michael Young could be more readily obtained. As for Chad Billingsley, he could have the attention of the Yankees as well if they are serious about getting another starter on board.

The deal should be entertained but it is probably out of reach. More thoughts on Billingsley's value later.