There is bad, really bad, terrible and then this unnamed layer of hell
The hot stove league is heating up for just about everybody with the obvious exception of the Dodgers. Let’s take a quick look at the top FAs on the market and also at a few of the names dangled as trade bait and see exactly why the Dodgers won’t/can’t get involved. Below is a quick rundown of Free Agents or pieces that might be available in the order that I think represents the best to the worst with a serious emphasis on hitters since we’ve established that the rotation actually looks solid…congrats to the braintrust on the Kuroda and Garland signing too, a combined $17MM for two quality innings-eaters isn’t terrible. Still though, where was this last year? At the start of last season we all knew the Dodgers lacked pitchers but their hitting was good enough. After the inking of Kuroda the attention should have been turned to the offensive side of the equation but today the word out of LA is the Garland signing, which again I’m fine with but really, why now?
Dan Uggla: Would have been a perfect answer for the lack of infield pop on the Dodgers. Sure it would have been a (possible) one year rental and the Dodgers don’t have much of value they could have pawned off on the Marlins still, would have been nice.
Cliff Lee: Way, way out of the their price range. When you shop at Target it doesn’t matter what Williams-Sonoma is hocking.
Adrian Gonzalez: Everybody knows he’s going to Boston, either this off-season, before the trade deadline or through Free Agency next winter. Any way you look at it the Dodgers aren’t ending up with him. Just for the record he would be awesome though.
Carl Crawford: Another great fit…a shutdown defender who would patrol a ton of space in the huge outfields in the NL West and a legit top of the order bat who a power-starved team like the Dodgers could shoehorn into the 3rd/4th slots if pressed. Of course, way out of the budget.
Prince Fielder: A prototypical 40-120 first baseman on a team in desperate need of one, we’d think there could be a fit here if it weren’t for the Scott Boras factor. Boras never signs extensions which means when Fielder’s contract expires in 2011 he’ll be a free agent and if you get him for this year it’s likely going to be just this year. Would the Dodgers give up Billingsley and Loney for Prince? Would the Brewers even want that in return? I say no all around and even though he’s expected to age poorly he’s not exactly old now, making a multi-year offer sheet something the Dodgers should look at after the 2011 season.
Adam Dunn: LA would be a fine landing place for Dunn. Dunn seems to want a 4 year deal which means the AL makes the most sense for him so he can leave his glove in the trunk of his car for the last few years of his deal. Of course everybody said the same thing about Manny a few years ago but that didn’t stop the Dodgers from offering him more than anybody else on the market. Still don’t see The BrainTrust opening their wallets for multiple years when they have a semi-serviceable James Loney at first. Again, I think Loney is fine on a team that has extra power from other nontraditional sources but Loney is a slap hitter on a team mostly full of slap hitters so if we could move him favor of a legitimate slugger I’d be all for it.
V-Mart: And he’s gone but not somebody the Dodgers would be able to do anything with anyway, unless they wanted to stick him at first but then they’d still need a catcher so really, what’s the point. Oh, and they’re not going to afford him anyway.
Jayson Werth: Somebody is going to overpay him but it’s not going to be the Dodgers.
Adrian Beltre: See above.
Paul Konerko: Couldn’t you see Ned giving Konerko a 2 year $30MM deal and then convincing James Loney he’s the new leftfielder? I can. We’ll say this doesn’t happen though.
Jeter: I’d rather have Jeter’s 2011 than Raffy Furcal’s but we both know that’s not going to happen, even if it would be fun to see him at Third for the Dodgers.
Juan Uribe: Ned just loves him some low OBP guys that show a few flashes of above-averageness but he’s already locked into a 3B who fits that profile exactly and it’s another year before the Furcal boondoggle is cleared so that’s not happening.
Orlando Hudson: I appreciate his defense as much as the next guy and I’m sure he’s worth a few wins over the Theriot/Belliard two-headed-monster so let’s offer him something marginal and see if we can have a second goaround here.
Magglio Ordonez: Now we’re talking. Scrap heap, baby. We bury him in LF where he can’t be any worse than Manny was and pray that his body doesn’t fall apart. Let’s go 1 year at $10MM with some kind of option for year 2.
So, as you can see there weren’t a lot of infielders there doing us a lot of good once Uggla was off the table. Signing Hudson and Ordonez would at least give us this lineup, assuming health which is something this creaky group of vets would struggle with, and I’m not going to count Jay Gibbons as a real player here but as a 4th OF and platoon caddy for Andre Ethier…oh, that’s right, Gibbons is a lefty. Great.
1. Raffy Furcal – SS (S)
2. Orland Hudson – 2B (S)
3. Matt Kemp – CF (R)
4. Andre Ethier – RF (L)
5. Magglio Ordonez – LF (R)
6. James Loney – 1B (L)
7. Casey Blake – 3B (Neither, just kidding R)
8. Catcher to be named later (Neither, not a joke, that will be true)
9. Kershaw, Billingsley, Lilly, Kuroda, Jon Garland
Does that lineup work? Sort of. Does it strike terror into the hearts of men? No. The defense should be adequate with a very stingy right side of the infield. At the plate there’s enough there to put them in the conversation to improve on last year at the very least. It’s really easy to see them signing NOBODY and rolling with Jay Gibbons in left and having the worst 5-9 hitters in all of baseball.
Look, nobody (outside of Yankee fans) expects their team to contend each and every season. We understand there will be lean years and even the odd (we hope) rebuilding year. I don’t want to see management overspend for an overpriced veteran (which is most of them, again showing that building through the draft/minor leaguers is the best option) that will get us from 80 to 83 wins. I want to see a solid torrent of talent in the minor leagues like Kansas City, Tampa Bay and San Francisco have. Barring that, I want to see something exciting. No more leading the league in sacrifice hits, no more entire innings where I can flip to something else with the 6-7-8-9 hitters are due up. Give me something to believe in, LA.