If the Dodgers… Ned Colletti in particular
(i.e. the Human ****)… let Sabathia go to the Angels, it
will be deja-vu all over again. Last time we idly sat back
and let the top free agent on the market (Vlad Guerrero) go
elsewhere (who just happened to want to sign with the
Dodgers) the team was up for sale and the front office was
virtually non-existent. This time there’s no excuse… of
course, other than the front office being non-existent. The
team is not for sale this year so the Ned Colletti’s of the
world will have absolutely no excuse whatsoever if they
sleep on Sabathia. Face it, the Dodgers thought Sabathia was
going to take a hometown discount to come play here but now
that the Angels have entered the fray… and are claiming
they will come close to Yankee money… the Dodgers cannot
lowball him with a half-*** offer. If the Dodgers want him…
which they should considering he’s by far the best pitcher on
the market and our de-facto ace, Chad Billingsley, just broke
his leg… they are going to have to play by the same rules
as everyone else. Ned can’t go cheap on Sabathia just because
he screwed up on signing Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, Jason
Schmidt, Nomar, etc… He’s going to have to open up the
checkbook, match the Yankees offer (or come close to it) and
make CC Sabathia the top paid pitcher in all of baseball if
he wants him in Dodger blue next
Plain and simple, the Dodgers are vastly overrating veteran 3B, Casey Blake, who they acquired at the trade deadline from the Cleveland Indians last season. The prospect we gave up for Blake, catcher Carlos Santana, is now considered by many (including Baseball America) to be the Indians top prospect, over Matt LaPorta (who they got for CC Sabathia). Why would the Dodgers give up such a great prospect for a lame-fielding, light-hitting, below average OBP guy; a player that would cost most teams a C or B level prospect at best? Because the Dodgers were strapped for cash and needed the Tribe to cover Blake’s salary. So what we have here is a team totally overrating an average player and giving away a future star to get him.
Top Free Agents
en Looper, STL
Why is it that when exploring trades other teams allegedly ask us for all of our major league talent like James Loney, Matt Kemp and Jonathan Broxton yet other teams, like the Diamondbacks, get to trade minor leaguers that are not a part of their everyday lineup? Billy Beane reportedly wanted Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Jonathan Broxton for Joe Blanton, who isn’t nearly the pitcher that Dan Haren is, yet he turns around and deals the better pitcher to the D-Backs for a minor leaguer and several other low-level A-ball prospects? I don’t get it. Why can’t we make a trade like that? We have more than enough prospects in the system. I’m starting to get the idea that other teams don’t respect our GM, Ned Colletti, and think they can rip him off. It just doesn’t make any sense. Why else would a team try to extort us and then turn around and deal an even better player for far less than the package they were demanding from us? It would be one thing if they dealt Haren to the D-Backs for the equivalent of major league players they asked for from us like Justin Upton, Chris Young and Conor Jackson but for a bunch of A-ballers hardly seems fair. Most of the A-ballers involved in the Haren trade aren’t even rated that highly and weren’t originally part of the D-backs system. Many of them were acquired in other trades like Chris Carter who came from the White Sox in the Danny Richar trade last season. Too bad we can’t make a trade for an impact arm without having to give up major pieces of our everyday lineup. If we could pull off a deal in which we trade minor leaguers that we don’t use for an impact arm, we would surely do it in a heartbeat. Problem is, other teams want all of our best players from our major league team.
Many analysts are handing the D-Backs the division now that they’ve traded for Haren but I think they may be jumping the gun. As good as Haren’s numbers from last year look at first glance, he fell apart at the end of the season after posting a 4.67 ERA over his last 17 starts. He may have already hit his peak. Nonetheless I have no doubt he will make an impact on that staff. The D-Backs desperately needed another pitcher because after Brandon Webb they really didn’t have anybody other than Randy Johnson who is about as sure of a bet as Jason Schmidt. Haren definitely helps round out their rotation but are the D-Backs really as good as the media would have us believe? Simply put, no they’re not. Are the Dodgers really as far behind the curve as the media would have us believe? No, that’s not quite true either. Let’s look at the situation a little bit closer. The Dodgers were in 1st place for much of the season last year and didn’t fall out of contention until their historic collapse at the very end. Just as the Rockies can’t count on winning 20 straight again, opponents better not count on another historic Dodger collapse because it’s not going to happen this year. Had the Dodgers played guys like Chad Billingsley, James Loney, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier everyday instead of burnt-out vets like Brett Tomko, Nomar, Luis Gonzalez and Juan Pierre, they would’ve finished with a much better record than they did and may have even finished the season close to the top. The D-Backs on the other hand were outscored by their opponents to the tune of 712 runs scored to 732 runs allowed. The Dodgers scored 735 runs and allowed only 727 meaning we outscored them and didn’t allow as many runs as they did. That’s pretty fluky no matter which way you look at it.
If the D-Backs expect to face another broke-down, washed-up, geriatric team they are in for a rude awakening. This season the Dodgers will do what they should’ve done all of last season…play the kids. Teams like the D-Backs and Rockies were able to make the playoffs last season because they turned it over to the youth movement and didn’t rely on guys who couldn’t get it done anymore. Finally after much heartache and a new manager, it sounds like the Dodgers will finally do the same. If you look at our lineup top to bottom, it is very strong. Every single player in the lineup is capable of 20 or more HRs (except for Rafael Furcal) and all tend to get on base much more often than the average MLB player. I expect guys like James Loney and Matt Kemp to have breakout years this coming season. When you project either of their numbers over a full season, the results are very encouraging. Loney projects as a .333 hitter capable of hitting 25+ HRs. Matt Kemp projects to have an even better batting average and should be a 30/30 guy next year, putting him in the “elite offensive weapon” category. Pair that with the continued development of players like Russell Martin, Andre Ethier and Andy Laroche as well as solid veteran bats like Andruw Jones and Jeff Kent and this lineup looks like it will be the strongest the Dodgers have had in over a decade.
One thing I hope the D-Back trade doesn’t do is pressure Ned Colletti into making brash decisions to counter the move. Trading Matt Kemp for anybody would be a mistake and I’m not sold on the idea of trading for a pitcher like Erik Bedard in the first place. He didn’t even breakout into the league until he was 27 and was a little better than average until last season. Beyond that he’s already 30 and isn’t getting any younger. Pitchers are notoriously fragile and Bedard has dealt with injuries throughout his career. He even missed the end of last season due to left shoulder problems, which isn’t a good sign for a left-handed pitcher. The main problem with the Dodgers’ pitching staff is the unavailability of Clayton Kershaw. He has ace-caliber stuff but is still too young to pitch for the big league club. His stuff is good enough but his endurance and durability isn’t up to par quite yet. It will likely take another year or two of development before he’s ready to join the big league staff. Technically he’s another ace for the staff but we just can’t use him yet. That presents us with a dilemma, especially now that the D-Backs have pulled the trigger on Haren. Guys like Matt Kemp and Jonathan Broxton shouldn’t even be part of the equation but the real question is, “should we trade Clayton Kershaw for an impact arm”? My answer is an emphatic no! When you let other teams dictate your moves, you’re in trouble. Just because they D-Backs dealt away the farm doesn’t mean we should. Kershaw projects as a better starter than anything we could get via the trade market. He’s extremely young and has an excellent contract. Look at the future. When Kershaw does come up, we won’t be paying him much and will be able to afford to add even more players to the lineup. If we deal Kershaw for an expensive veteran, that payroll flexibility will be gone.
The Dodgers are easily my favorites to win the West this year, even if they don’t make a move for another pitcher. It’s been rumored for several days now that Japanese star starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda has decided to sign with the Dodgers. If those reports are true, he instantly gives us the depth we need in our rotation, without having to trade anyone. Of course, all Japanese players translate to the majors differently but Kuroda does have a few things working for him. First of all Dodger stadium is clearly a pitchers park…and so are most of the other NL West ballparks. Pitching in places like Petco and Pac-Bell (or whatever the Giants call their stadium now) should help him. Also, the offenses of the NL West aren’t nearly as dangerous as the lineups of the AL Central or AL East. It’s not like he’s going to have to face the Tigers, Yankees and Red Sox all the time. I expect a reasonable amount of success from him at least in his first year or two since batters will not be used to his stuff. He could very well end up as a legitimate #3 starter in time. For $11 million a year, that would have to be considered a bargain in today’s market.
In the end it all comes back to Arizona. No doubt the Dan Haren trade was a big move for the D-Backs. As I previously stated, they desperately needed the depth at pitching and other than Johan Santana, Haren may very well have been the best pitcher available this winter. If I remember correctly, he’s under contract for another 3 years at a reasonable price, meaning the D-Backs will still have enough flexibility to make more moves in the future. In a way, that makes Haren an even more attractive target than Santana since you don’t have to lock him up to a Barry Zito-busting contract. In today’s game, that’s what it’s all about; payroll flexibility…at least for a team that doesn’t have unlimited cash to throw away like the Yanks and Sox. There is no question now that the NL West is the toughest division in baseball pitching-wise and is starting to catch up offensively as well. When you look at the bigger picture the D-Backs matchup the best with the Dodgers but the Padres are not far behind. The only team in the division that is weak on pitching is the Rockies but if guys like Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales continue to develop, they’ll quickly catch up to the big boys. I expect an extremely competitive division next year but I fully expect the Dodgers to finish on top. When you factor in the things like the youth movement, the depth in the rotation and the new manager, future Hall of Famer Joe Torre, I don’t think there is any question we will be much better off than we were last year. Factoring in these elements, the Dodgers are the team to beat.