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Oct 1, 2010

The Los Angeles Dodgers' Offseason

Its spring training. The smells of hot dogs and popcorn fill the air. Cotton candy filled children scream and ask their parents questions. Others sit quiet, likely feeling ill from the  massive amounts of sugar coursing through their blood stream. Despite the many different faces, young and old, gathered in the stadium, everyone is here for one thing. To watch baseball.

Welcome to Camelback Ranch. Spring training home to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As the excitement for the 2010 season rises, so too does the excitement to watch the Dodgers enter the postseason once again.

For those of us who believed this would actually occur, we found ourselves sadly mistaken and left increasingly frustrated. Where did the offense go? The world's greatest detective Sherlock Holmes would be stumped. But to be fair, some have actually gotten better with the bat from the 2009 season

For example, shortstop Rafael Furcal is actually having one of his better seasons. Raising is batting average by 32 points (as of 9/29) from .269 to .301. He has also become more lethal on the base paths stealing 22 bases as compared to just 12 the season before.

Although there are a few players on the Dodgers who have had better seasons as compared to '09, there are a vast number who have had greatly disappointing seasons.. This list includes stars like Casey Blake, Manny Ramirez and obviously Matt Kemp.

  • Casey Blake
    • 2009
      • .280 BA   .468 SLG   .363 OBP
    • 2010 (As of 9/29)
      • .249 BA   .412 SLB   .321 OBP
  • Manny Ramirez
    • 2009 (Even With 50 Game Suspension)
      • 19 HR  63 RBI
    • 2010 (As of 9/29)
      • 8 HR   40 RBI
  • Matt Kemp
    • 2009
      •  .297 BA  101 RBI   97 Runs   .842 OPS
    • 2010 (As of 9/29)
      • .248 BA  79 RBI   78 Runs   .742 OPS
 Now if we view the statistics listed above we see that all three of these players were large contributers to the Dodgers' 2009 success and a part of the Dodgers' 2010 downfall. Just imagine had Blake hit 40 points better, had Manny hit 11 more homers or had Matt Kemp driven in 22 more RBIs. Indeed the team may still be in the race if not leading it. How many of those runs, rbis, hits or homers would have been game tying or game winning. We can only wonder.

 Now I'm writing this blog not to ponder what could of been but what can be and what can happen next year if the Los Angeles Dodgers play their cards right and make the right moves during the 2010-2011 off season. But before we can go off and state that the Dodgers need this and that and should get this. We must first look at this realistically. Amidst the conflict between the McCourts, the Dodgers must find a way to operate and improve in very cost efficient ways as the money simply is not there. Don't get angry if I state that there will be no Carl Crawford or Jason Werth or Cliff Lee, it's just extremely unlikely to happen due to their extremely high asking prices.

The Outfield 
Currently, the Dodgers' outfield looks pretty set. The two stars of the team in Ethier and Kemp (barring a surprising and blockbuster trade) will fill out center and right. The only position in question is left field. Despite having a $2 mil option on Scott Podsednik, he has the ability to void the option having had over 525 plate appearances on the season. Figuring that Podsednik has put together a pretty fine season, one might suggest that he would rather hit the free agent market. Age however might become a factor in his decision as he is currently 35 years old. Should the team desire to shed that $2 mil, they could go with in house options such as Trent Oeltjen, Xavier Paul or Trayson Robinson. There are also a few cheaper free agents. One player that I believe could fit well with the Dodgers is current Yankee Austin Kearns who has put together a decent season. Xavier Nady is another possible option with a very high upside. In fact he hit 25 bombs only two years ago.

As I stated before, I highly doubt the Dodgers will be strong competition for Werth's and Crawford's services, but seeing as they have almost $38 mil coming off of payroll at seasons end, there is always that slight possibility.

The Infield
This should be a very short section. The LA Dodgers don't seem to be in a need of any immediate infielders. In fact I think they have a very good infield and should stick with it. With James Loney at first, Ryan Theriot at second, Rafael Furcal at short and Casey Blake at third, the team would not greatly improve from any of the infielder that will be available on the free agent market with the exception of Adrian Beltre or Adam Dunn. Beltre is an expensive option, where as Adam Dunn may be a bit cheaper. The problem would be finding a position for him to play without dealing James Loney.

I guess I could say that the one area of concern is at the catching position seeing as Russell Martin hasn't been very good offensively. Unfortunately, with the exception of Victor Martinez, there is not much help available on the free agent market. Since I was previously writing about the Angels' off season possibilities, perhaps the Dodgers might be a suitor for Mike Napoli's services should he become available. He would bring with him above average power and another threat in the Dodger's lineup.

The Pitching
When looking at the stats of the Dodgers' pitching, you are left wondering how on Earth they finished fourth in their division. Clayton Kershaw posted a 2.91 ERA (as of 10/1), Hiroki Kuroda a 3.39 ERA, and Chad Billingsley a 3.61 ERA. That is three pitchers who pitched very well this season. It has been said way too many times that good pitching leads to success. That did not happen this year, but if the offense begins to hit well again in 2011, the current pitching staff would seemingly hold its ground.

The problem however is that three starters will be free agents this year; Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly, and Vncente Padilla. Due to each of these pitchers' age, they may be signable for the Dodgers this off season. However they would be hard pushed to sign them prior to them hitting the free agent market as they may be very sought after. In fact, in my opinion, Hiroki Kuroda seems to be one of the better pitchers on the market after Cliff Lee. So resigning Kuroda should be a prime objective for the Dodgers this offseason.

Another objective for the Dodgers this season should be signing and upgrading their bullpen. While the starting pitching ERA is pretty good, the relief ERA is the opposite. Entirely dominant in 2009, Jonathan Broxton greatly faltered in 2010. Some would say the Dodgers should search for another closer, possibly Rafael Soriano, but I disagree greatly. Signing Soriano would be costly and there is no reason to assume that Broxton, at the age of 26, cannot bounce back and have another dominant season in 2011. Instead, they should search for some middle and long relief pitcher. May I suggest a pitcher such as Grant Balfour, Arthur Rhodes or Jon Rauch. Rauch has actually shown that he can step into the closer role, should Broxton have problems, and he has also shown that he can set up quite well in the 7th and 8th innings.

The Conclusion
To wrap up this blog about the Los Angeles Dodgers, I will simply say that it is not the pieces that the Dodgers had in 2011 that caused the team to falter but instead the underachievement and nonperformance of those pieces. I believe that had they gotten better offensive numbers out of many of their stars, they would have been in the race up until the end.

Since they did struggle however, we must look at ways to improve the team. Here are my suggestions and ideas into how I believe the Dodgers could raise their win total in 2011.

  1. Resign Hiroki Kuroda
  2. Resign Vincente Padilla
  3. Bring Octavio Dotel back
  4. Sign Jon Rauch or Arthur Rhodes
  5. Sign Xavier Nady
  6. Trade for a catcher
Now I know many of  you are reading this thinking to yourselves "Wait! He said the problem is with the offense, why should the Dodgers only make moves based on pitching." To that question, my answer is simply this: There is no way to sign a slugger for cheap that would fit into the lineup both defensively and offensively. While some would argue that there is plenty of money to be spent on a slugger, I say the Dodgers should focus more strongly on keeping and building a good pitching staff. The Dodgers didn't lose because they were missing offensive pieces, they lost because they underachieved. I strongly believe that as long as the McCourt saga continues, the Dodgers will not be able to spend too much, even with money being shed.

Now should the Dodgers bounce back and their players perform similar to the 2009 season, they will have no problems in competing once again during the 2011 season.

It wouldn't take a miracle for the Dodgers to return to the top, it would simply take a little more patience and some better at-bats.

5 comments:

  1. You have a lot of good points and i like them but there is one problem, which you did mention...Offense. The Dodger's veterans are getting older and can't play like they did 2 years ago(Casey Blake, Manny(who is now gone). Also Dotel is not on the Dodger's anymore and the reason he isn't is because the Dodger's didn't want him after this season because he had a 400,000K buyout and the Dodgers didn't want to pay that. So Dotel is out of the Dodgers plans. I feel like we need to trade many players in order to spark the offense. I think Loney needs to go, Martin needs to go, and Blake needs to go. Trade those guys for some prospects or Relief Pitching and then go sign Adam Dunn as 1B, resign Barajas/Ellis for cheap and call up Mitchell or get a nice 3B prospect that is stuck in the minors(Matt Gamel) in a deal for Loney. I know a lot of this is up in the air and out of question, but since you are an Angel's fan as well would you be interested in a Napoli/Broxton deal? Just a thought...

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  2. Thanks for catching my mistake. It was not that I wasn't aware of Dotel being traded it is that I simply forgot and got swept up while looking at team rosters and stats. Thanks again.

    You have good idea in terms of a shakeup in LA. I just don't see the Dodgers getting rid of so many foundational players and taking a chance with young talent. The reason being that the Dodgers aren't that far away from competing again.

    Also Napoli for Broxton could help out both teams in their problem areas. The Dodgers however would have to find someone to replace Broxton in the pen. Perhaps acquiring Napoli for a guy like Casey Blake could work as well.

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  3. Yeah i like the Blake for Napoli idea a lot. You are an Angel fan...would you like that trade as an Angel? I would like that trade to give us some more pop in the lineup.

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  4. Well should the Angels decide that they want to move Maicer Izturis, Alberto Callaspo or Erick Aybar, and decided to withhold from the Beltre sweepstakes, then I would have no problem with such a deal in order to solidify the third base position.

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  5. Would your GM be interested because i see that being a pretty good fit right there.

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