GM for the Day: Los Angeles Dodgers

Ownership issues have truly limited the Dodgers from taking the next step or competing in the NL West.  Ned Colletti has done well considering his inability to spend, even in a “lucrative” market in L.A., hell, they just reached the NLCS in 2009.  That seems like decades ago now!  The Dodgers continue to develop talent within the organization, seeing the arrival of young stallions like Rubby De La Rosa (who had Tommy John surgery in August) and Nate Eovaldi.  A lot of their offensive talent isn’t the Matt Kemp variety, as they feature “toolsy” guys like Alfredo Silverio and Joc Pederson, rather than Grade A guys like Brett Lawrie or Bryce Harper.  With ownership issues still up in the air, this is another patchwork type of offseason for Dodger fans to look forward to.  Here is their current 25-man roster:

2 Catchers: A.J. Ellis and Josh Bard

1B: James Loney

2B: Mark Ellis

3B: Juan Uribe

SS: Dee Gordon

LF: Juan Rivera

CF: Matt Kemp

RF: Andre Ethier

Bench: Jerry Sands (1B/OF), Jerry Hairston, Jr. (INF/OF), Tony Gwynn, Jr. (OF) and Justin Sellers (INF)

Starting Pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and Nate Eovaldi

Relief Pitchers: Javy Guerra, Matt Guerrier, Kenley Jensen, Scott Elbert, Blake Hawksworth, Josh Lindblom and John Grabow

The Dodgers are set right now in their rotation.  They will lose Hiroki Kuroda in Free Agency, but they’ll replace him with Chris Capuano, who needs to stay healthy (doubtful after 2 TJ surgeries), and Nate Eovaldi.  Eovaldi is an interesting pitcher.  He should do well pitching in Dodger Stadium, but he doesn’t have a great strikeout rate.  He could probably use more seasoning, but the 40-man roster doesn’t have a whole lot to offer and the Dodgers aren’t going to be in on Edwin Jackson or in deals for Matt Garza anytime soon.  Allen Webster is the next closest prospect arm and he made just 17 starts in Double-A in 2011.  They could use some depth but it would have to be a journeyman or two.  They don’t have to have someone taking away starts from Eovaldi, but they need one decent guy to be there if he struggles or Capuano blows out his arm again.  Zach Duke, Rodrigo Lopez, Ramon Ortiz or a Brad Penny reunion could work for the Dodgers on a small one-year or Minor League deal.  The bullpen is loaded with hard throwing young arms.  Lindblom and Guerra could be a solid 8th and 9th duo for the next several years, once Lindblom gets moved up to the 8th inning role, which could happen in 2012.

The offense starts with Kemp and gets frustrating after that.  I can’t understand the contract being tendered to James Loney.  He is all over the place, posting a .914 OPS after the All Star break but just a .653 OPS in the first half.  Who is he?  2012 is his age 28 season, meaning he is in his prime, but he was last year when he hit just 12 homers and finished with a .755 OPS.  In fact, Loney has a career .778 OPS and 67 career homers in 3,018 plate appearances.  Loney has a .632 vs. LHP since the 2009 season started and his lack of power and consistency is reason enough to not give him a raise over the $4.88 million he made in 2011.  Speaking of guys who can’t hit lefties, remember when Andre Ethier was just as valuable as Matt Kemp?  Ethier turns 30 in April and hasn’t come close to his 2009 breakout (42 2B, 31 HR, 106 RBI and .869 OPS) the last two seasons.  His OPS fell all the way to .789 last season thanks to his Loney-like 11 homers.  Even counting his 2009 season, Ethier is hitting just .215/.279/.329 in the last three seasons, good…or is it bad…for a .608 OPS.  Juan Rivera’s signing could allow the Dodgers to put Sands in LF/RF and leave Rivera at first when the Dodgers face lefties.  The struggles that Ethier and Loney have had since the start of 2010 could be the reason why the Dodgers haven’t made it back to the playoffs since then.  Dee Gordon showed the speed that could make him a great table-setter in the long run, but it will be full of slap hitting…like a Juan Pierre at shortstop…in his prime…without the walks.  It isn’t all terrible, but they have some stopgaps in place if a 2B or 3B wants to ruin the fading careers of Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe.

Overall, there isn’t much the Dodgers can do.  They’ve stuck with what they have without making many changes because they can’t really add payroll during the sale of the team.  Due to that handcuffing, the Dodgers will hang tight and hope that a prospect or two come up to make a difference.  Nate Eovaldi, Jerry Sands and Tim Federowicz, a solid catching prospect, should carve out significant roles this year.  Since A.J. Ellis is 30 and not very good at baseball, they could go with Josh Bard at catcher and let Federowicz get a taste of the bigs early and often.  I would also like to get Eovaldi a few more starts in the Minors, though Albuquerque isn’t the best environment for that, at the Triple-A level.  Sign Brad Penny and see if he can bring his attractive wife to games and pitch well every five days on the cheap as insurance due to the loss of Kuroda and Capuano’s health record.  If he is inconsistent or crap like he was last year, cut him loose and bring Eovaldi up.  Platoon Rivera and Sands at 1B and RF with Loney and Ethier against lefties, put Hairston in LF those days, and watch the offense click.

Final 25-man Roster:

2 Catchers: Tim Federowicz and Josh Bard

1B: James Loney

2B: Mark Ellis

3B: Juan Uribe

SS: Dee Gordon

LF: Juan Rivera

CF: Matt Kemp

RF: Andre Ethier

Bench: Jerry Sands (1B/OF), Jerry Hairston, Jr. (INF/OF), Tony Gwynn, Jr. (OF) and Justin Sellers (INF)

Starting Pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and Brad Penny

Relief Pitchers: Javy Guerra, Matt Guerrier, Kenley Jensen, Scott Elbert, Blake Hawksworth, Josh Lindblom and John Grabow

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1 Comment

Yeah, there isn’t much to do until the sale of the team, but *after*, oh boy. We are talking about groups that can afford $1+ billion to pay for a team. I think they’ll have a bunch of money to spend, and they could be a force to be reckoned with in the NL West.
-Mateo Fischer
http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com

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