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December 1, 2008

GM for a Day

Dodgers

by Joe Sheehan

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | DT Cards | PECOTA Cards | Depth Chart

In the run-up to the Winter Meetings, which begin a week from today in Las Vegas, I'm going to resurrect a feature I've done sporadically in the past, "GM For a Day." It is exactly what it sounds like: I take over a team and do what I think needs to be done. (Note that no one has ever hired me based on these pieces.) With 30 teams and probably five columns before next Monday, I won't get to everyone, and I haven't picked the next four, so if you have a preference, send it in via e-mail and I'll use that feedback to select the next candidates.

Today, I slip into Ned Colletti's shoes and take over the Dodgers. Coming off of a division title as a high-revenue franchise with a fantastic farm system-even after sloughing off talent right and left over the last few years-you would think the Dodgers might be in fantastic shape. They're certainly better off than many teams, but look past the crown and the money and the kids, and you find a team that is going to be changed significantly a year from now, one that has a staggering amount of dead money on the payroll, and one which is run, from the top down, a bit strangely.

The core talent here is as good as you'll find for ability, age, payroll, and team control. Russell Martin, James Loney, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsley, and Clayton Kershaw match up with any top six roster spots in the game once payroll and control are considered. Some teams go decades without having that much talent come through their system; the Dodgers will put five of those guys on the field 40 percent of the time next year. Throw in Hiroki Kuroda, James McDonald, Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, and, perhaps, Chin-Lung Hu, and the Dodgers will have nearly half of their roster comprised of talent they developed or signed, with only Ethier a marginal call in that area. The Brewers, the Rays, and maybe the Diamondbacks are the only teams that can put that much internally-developed talent on the field in 2009.

Yet the Dodgers have some problems. Outside of Martin, and the notion that Matt Kemp is a center fielder, it's a pretty weak team up the middle. A Hu/Blake DeWitt middle infield is problematic, because as good as Hu is defensively, he's yet to show that he can hit above Double-A. He's a career .307/.331/.451 batter in the PCL, with home games in Las Vegas and just 13 walks in more than 350 PA, and a .193/.250/.250 hitter in parts of two seasons in the majors. Hu slugged .507 at two levels combined in '07, but that '08 performance is worrisome. His glove warrants their opening the season with him at shortstop, because bringing along Billingsley, Kershaw, and McDonald will be easier with the plus-plus glove at shortstop.

DeWitt was, in a small sample, a statistical positive at second base, and there's an argument that it's the only place his bat will play. On the other hand, he looked awkward at the keystone almost all of the time, the Dodgers currently have no third baseman, and second basemen are something of a dime a dozen. It seems like a better idea to move DeWitt back to third and hope that the upward trend in his plate discipline was more than just a lineup-position thing. It's an open question for the 23-year-old, who drew a disproportionate number of intentionals (nine of his 45) and had just three unintentional walks in 108 PA outside of the seventh and eighth slots in the lineup. With Andy LaRoche gone, however, DeWitt is the choice to play third.

That leaves second base as a hole. I'm not ready to anoint Ivan DeJesus as a middle-infield answer based on three great months at Double-A. His presence, however, makes me feel better about thinking of second base as a short-term problem, something DeJesus can solve very late next year or in 2010. With that in mind, I want to find a stopgap solution, something there are always plenty of at second base. With Loney and Hu at first base and shortstop, sacrificing some defense for offense is an option here, especially with the team lacking a true leadoff hitter. Ray Durham still provides OBP and won't require draft-pick compensation for signing him. A two-year, $8 million offer should bring him into the fold, and allow the Dodgers time to figure out what DeJesus and Hu will be for them.

I mentioned Kemp as a center fielder earlier... he's a right fielder by trade, with good raw speed that doesn't translate well to center, and equipped with a right-fielder's arm. The decision to play him in center, flanked by Ethier and Manny Ramirez, was absolutely correct late last year, but now, with Ramirez gone, ideally the Dodgers would find a center fielder, slide Kemp to right and Ethier to left, and give themselves a plus defensive outfield.

Well, "find" may not be the best verb. The Dodgers "found" Juan Pierre two offseasons ago, and Andruw Jones last winter, to disastrous results. Both are still around, soaking up $27 million in payroll and providing brutal performance for the money. Neither was terribly happy by the end of last season, reduced to part-time or no-time roles, and it is likely that both expect to get much more playing time in '09. Jones, in particular, is a problem, because his skill set doesn't translate well to the bench. He's a low-average, high-power guy without good raw speed; if he's not a starter, he's just sitting there. Pierre, at the least, can bunt and run, though his horrible arm makes him a liability in center field, and he would have no business playing a corner on a team with Ethier and Kemp.

There is no easy answer here, in part because a year after being lousy with center fielders, the free-agent market is short of them. All of the options are aging, injury-prone, or not very good, and quite frankly, the Dodgers have too much of those things. The trade market is basically Aaron Rowand; the Giants aren't exactly giving him away, and his declining stock with four years left on an expensive deal is a bad idea, anyway. Rocco Baldelli is an interesting gamble, perhaps in a platoon with Pierre where Baldelli could earn more than a right-handed batter's share of playing time, but Baldelli has played 162 innings in center field since 2006, and his body simply may not let him do more than that. The upside is there, but the Dodgers need a center fielder, and should look elsewhere.

Getting creative, the idea of trying to pry Rickie Weeks from the Brewers has merit. With the Dodgers having openings in both center field and at second base, they could trade for Weeks, and move him to center-and yes, Keith Law and I will eventually arm-wrestle for the rights to this idea-with the backup plan of sticking him at second base if the move fails, using Durham and Weeks in a Wally Backman/Tim Teufel Memorial "Look ma, no hands" platoon. That's a trade with upside that addresses a positional need and a lineup gap, and includes a fallback even within it. The Dodgers have dealt good prospects, and have been absolutely been in deals for guys like Casey Blake and Mark Hendrickson and Danys Baez; this would actually be a good use of Logan White's progeny. You don't waste Andrew Lambo or Scott Elbert this way, but maybe DeJesus, or a Xavier Paul-plus-pitcher combination?

There's a notion that the Dodgers have a rotation problem, but I don't see it, not unless Chad Billingsley's leg injury is that much worse than expected. A rotation of Billingsley, Kuroda, Kershaw, McDonald, and Stults will seem risky, but could be above-average across the board. Kuo is around, and Elbert could arrive late in the year. Jason Schmidt is still in the organization as well. I suppose if there was ever an argument for a six-man rotation, it would be the team with this much young pitching and rehab cases needing to manage a lot of workloads in one year.

A better solution is to buy your way out of the problem. Just eyeballing the numbers at Cot's, the Dodgers have $54 million or so (I prorated signing bonuses where applicable) committed to Jones, Schmidt, Kuroda, and Pierre, and some high-value arbitration-eligibles in Broxton, Ethier, and Martin. Let's say that group, all first-time eligibles, comes in collectively at $15 million, which is probably high. That leaves the Dodgers at $69 million in commitments for seven roster slots. Even with some bumps for Kemp and Loney-bumps that aren't mandatory-the Dodgers would still be well under their 2008 Opening Day payroll of $118 million.

I've argued again and again that the safest bet in this year's pitching market is Derek Lowe. The Dodgers have an established relationship with Lowe; he's been successful with them, and he does seem like the kind of pitcher better suited for the NL than the AL. They have more than enough payroll flexibility to offer him a premium over what Ryan Dempster-a pitcher who doesn't have anything like Lowe's track record-received, and because Lowe is a durable ground-ball pitcher in good condition, the risk they're taking is less than what any other team will be taking in signing Dempster, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, or any other "name" free-agent starter this winter. Lowe would stabilize the rotation, increase the benefit of playing Hu at shortstop, and by pushing everyone back a slot, he would create depth on the back end that could be used in season to make a trade or just manage the innings of all the young pitchers.

With the big moves out of the way, the focus also has to be on managing Russell Martin better than was done in '08. Joe Torre burnt out his starting catcher last year, and Martin was overused in '07 as well; he needs to be given a backup catcher worth playing. The Practically Perfect Backup Catcher, Gregg Zaun, is a free agent who fits nicely with Martin, a switch-hitter who provides OBP from the left side and who, honestly, isn't a great defensive player. With that said, Zaun may be at the point of his career where he's more risk than reward. No matter who the choice is-Dave Ross, or Javier Valentin, or Ivan Rodriguez-the Dodgers have to bring in a catcher that Torre will play every five days or so, or risk destroying a tremendous asset in Martin.

What about Manny Ramirez? Well, he's 36, and he's a big negative defensively whose presence creates worse defense at the other two outfield spots as well. There are better fits for Ramirez than the Dodgers, and the team should recognize that and put their money elsewhere. Letting Ramirez's fantastic two months drive a $50 million decision would be a mistake.

So here's the plan, in order of importance:

  1. Sign Derek Lowe for four years and $62 million. He's the best fit for this team and this payroll, and there should be some value to Lowe in not having to relocate. If there's not, ply him with additional money.

  2. Trade Xavier Paul and Victor Garate to the Brewers for Rickie Weeks; then make Weeks a center fielder. It's a low bid, and honestly, I'm skeptical enough of DeJesus' power and ability to play shortstop than I might deal him if that's what it took to get Weeks.

  3. Sign Ray Durham for two years, $8 million. The extra year is designed to get this over with quickly, as the falloff from Durham to the next option is steep enough to want to avoid the question. If Durham is done, this is an easy contract to eat. Speaking of which…

  4. Release Andruw Jones. Ideally, you could get him to agree to a buyout, where he takes 60 cents on the dollar and gets to hit the market again, choosing that ahead of a season in which he bats 125 times as the Dodgers' fifth outfielder. There's no place for him on this roster. A year ago, I loved this signing; I was very, very wrong.

  5. Sign Javier Valentin. He starts 30-35 games against good right-handed pitchers and is a very good pinch-hitter the rest of the time.

  6. Re-sign Takashi Saito. Offer him a high-upside deal. It's not likely there's much guaranteed money available for him, and he's one of those "good or unavailable" guys.

  7. Offer arbitration to Ramirez. I can't fathom him taking it, and almost no team uses draft picks as well as the Dodgers do.

These things done, my 2009 Dodgers:

Weeks CF
Ethier LF
Kemp RF
Loney 1B
Martin C
Durham 2B
DeWitt 3B
Hu SS

Bench: Pierre, Valentin, Delwyn Young, Tony Abreu, Jason Repko

Rotation: Lowe, Billingsley, Kershaw, Kuroda, Kuo, Schmidt

Bullpen: Broxton, Saito, Cory Wade, McDonald, Stults, Elbert

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

85 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

SaberTJ

HI Joe,

I liked the article. It would be nice if the Dodgers would just release Jones like you mentioned.

Dec 01, 2008 11:02 AM
rating: 0
 
Dr. Dave

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the Dodgers' best bet with Jones might simply be to put him out there in CF every day and hope he returns to something vaguely resembling his past. They need a real CF, it's a sunk cost, and it's just as likely to be useful as any of the free agent options. Last year's performance is no more relevant than last year's salary. What does PECOTA expect from him, I wonder?

Dec 02, 2008 09:41 AM
rating: 1
 
Randy Brown
(189)

I think the Tigers would be an interesting subject for GM for a Day. You've got a veteran, flawed team with at least 3 holes to fill. You have limited flexibility due to a nearly barren farm system and you need to maintain or shed payroll. You've also got a lineup that should score a lot of runs and you can erect a fence post at shortstop that would prevent more runs than Renteria did in 2008.

Do you burn the house down and rebuild? Or do you try to patch the holes take a crack at the Central in 2009?

Dec 01, 2008 11:07 AM
rating: 4
 
PapaGiorgio

Alright, Joe, that one wasn't too hard. Give yourself a real challenge and do the Giants next!

Dec 01, 2008 11:15 AM
rating: 0
 
John from Bel Air

That would be too easy. Don't sign anybody, do nothing to change the roster. Try to trade Rowand, Zito, Winn, Roberts, and Molina for some value. Plan to write off the next 2 seasons. Save all your money for the draft, international free agent market, and in case Yu Darvish gets posted.

Dec 01, 2008 11:40 AM
rating: 0
 
Dan

Hey, back off Rickie Weeks! I want the OBP-challenged Reds to trade for him. ;)

(Speaking of which... I'd love to see what you'd do as Reds GM.)

Dec 01, 2008 11:22 AM
rating: 1
 
buffum
(458)

If you need a CF and can play glove over bat, Franklin Gutierrez from the Indians wouldn't be a bad choice. There are some in the Cleveland org who think he's a better defensive CF than Grady Sizemore, and although he can't really hit righties well, he isn't Juan Pierre.

He'd be cheap, too, both in what it would take to get him and what you'd have to pay him.

(Plea for the Indians next submitted via email.)

Dec 01, 2008 11:39 AM
rating: 1
 
rusty1098

I am one of those who agrees that Gut is better than Sizemore defensively; about equal getting to the ball with a better arm. But he has little future in Cleveland. The organization likes Francisco and Choo for their bats, and have Crowe, Brantley and LaPorta (likely to end up at 1B) at AAA. I think that Cleveland would trade Gutierrez for pitching.

I too would like to see Joe assess the Indians.

Dec 02, 2008 20:30 PM
rating: 0
 
pdxpadre

Good article Joe, and I'm impressed that you reminded us that you supported the Andruw Jones signing last winter. I wish more columnists would admit when they are wrong. I do think the Dodgers can get away with Kemp in center. I'm not a scout, but he seems more comfortable there than in right. I'm not saying he's a great defensive center fielder, but he's better than the alternatives. It's no sure thing Weeks would be decent.

I nominate the Reds for your series.

Dec 01, 2008 11:45 AM
rating: 3
 
Metswest

I would love to see what you would do to fix the mess Minaya has made in Queens. I am a lifelong Mets fan in LA, so I am a familar with Dodgers. I like the idea of bringing Weeks out west, but I feel the Brewers would want something more substantial.

Dec 01, 2008 11:47 AM
rating: 0
 
Tarakas

Good article.

If I was looking for a CF, I'd consider trying to trade with the Cardinals for one, maybe Ankiel. He's a bit of a risk, but the Cards have extra depth at CF and obvious gaping holes in the organization.

The Cards would not be a bad "GM for a Day" team, in that they have clear holes (2B, SS, pitching) and clear excess talent (too many OF), but much of the excess talent comes with a question mark (Ankiel, Rasmus, Ludwick, Schumaker, Mather, Stahinova, Barton and Duncan).

Dec 01, 2008 12:04 PM
rating: 1
 
Vilica

Hey Joe,

You've always been my favorite writer here, and I find these types of articles very interesting. Although I realize that not all teams are equally interesting to GM for a day, I humbly request that you (or other BP writers) do this exercise with the other 29 teams over the course of the offseason. It'd always fun to see how you guys would tackle the many problems facing the 30 GMs throughout MLB (although I fully expect Colletti to do the exact opposite of your sensibly laid out plan).

Dec 01, 2008 12:18 PM
rating: 4
 
Matt

Seconded.

Dec 01, 2008 15:35 PM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

Thirded.

Dec 01, 2008 15:59 PM
rating: 0
 
akimbp
(657)

N-ed.

Dec 01, 2008 18:17 PM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

Fifthed

Dec 01, 2008 19:38 PM
rating: 0
 
John from Bel Air

Sixed

Dec 01, 2008 20:43 PM
rating: -1
 
McNulty

Seventhed

Dec 02, 2008 08:26 AM
rating: 0
 
Kevin

Go Joe go!

Dec 02, 2008 19:04 PM
rating: 0
 
leez34

You have a backup plan of moving Weeks back to 2nd to platoon with Durham if he doesn't pan out in CF, but then who plays CF? With the roster you developed, it seems like you end up playing Pierre again.

Dec 01, 2008 12:13 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

That, or you move Kemp back there and fake left field (with Ethier in right). What's the saying about war? No battle plan survives contact with the enemy?

Dec 01, 2008 12:19 PM
 
Wyomissing

Is it really a "fake" in LF to put Delwyn Young there and see how his bat plays? Given he's not a gazelle out there, but he's got more pop in his bat than anyone else in the system that hasn't had a decent chance yet and he's shown the ability to hit and get on base in the bigs.

Dec 02, 2008 08:07 AM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

M-E-T-S...Mets, Mets, Mets! Omar can't do it...what about Joe?

Dec 01, 2008 12:19 PM
rating: 0
 
Canuck

The problem with re-signing Lowe is that he is determined to go back east to play, and has made it clear to the Dodgers and their beat writers that he does not want to return to LA. According to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick, Lowe didn't even want to play in LA when he signed with the Dodgers four years ago, but he did sign because their contract offer was far better than anything else he could get. This off-season, Boston and the two New York teams are all interested in Lowe, so he is not going to have to accept playing out west for a lack of good offers.

Dec 01, 2008 12:27 PM
rating: 2
 
Scott D. Simon

I'd like to see the Mets done also. Thanks Joe.

Dec 01, 2008 12:30 PM
rating: 0
 
Ameer

Wow, how much better would this roster look if the Dodgers had NOT traded Andy Laroche?

Even with Joe's plan (which I think is a good one), the Dodgers would be taking on significant risk with Durham, Weeks, and Hu planned as regulars. None of those guys have a GOOD backup plan besides the ones Joe mentioned (sliding Dewitt back to 2b and putting god-knows-who at 3rd, sliding Kemp back to cf and putting anyone-not-named-Pierre in LF).

I would also like to point out that Joe has Hu slotted for ss and no one on the bench who can really cover for him in an emergency. With that much risk in the infield, it seems like it would be a good idea to sign/trade for a bench/utility guy that can play 2b/3b/ss. I'm not sure Tony Abreu is the guy you want to fill that role.

Dec 01, 2008 12:36 PM
rating: -1
 
erniepoe

Yeah, but if they hadn't traded LaRoche, no one would care about what the Dodgers did right now because they wouldn't have gotten Manny and they wouldn't have made the playoffs. If they get two picks for losing Manny, the Dodgers will be just fine.

Dec 01, 2008 14:02 PM
rating: 2
 
DAra

Try Seattle Joe.

Lots of problems there and the question of what to do with Ichiro, Johjima etc but a great future with a new GM.

Dec 01, 2008 12:38 PM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

Trade 'em all for whatever you can get, spend all your money on the draft and the international market. Pretty much what John From Bel Air said in reference to the Giants.

Dec 01, 2008 16:01 PM
rating: 1
 
Evan
(47)

For extra credit, he's not allowed to drop Carlos Silva in Puget Sound.

Dec 01, 2008 16:13 PM
rating: 0
 
Jim Ferguson

I'm a Giants fan, but would probably not like to see the best you could do as GM for a day there. I'd like to see what you would do with two of the other problematic franchises at the moment: Texas and Baltimore

Dec 01, 2008 12:38 PM
rating: 0
 
Ozdoltorps

Does everyone think Weeks would come that cheap? I would think he would cost more, Melvin isn't stupid.

Dec 01, 2008 12:38 PM
rating: 4
 
Nater1177

Not to quibble with what’s a fine article, but in regards to home-grown/signed talent on the field in 2009. Youklis, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Lowrie, Lester, Daisuke, Buchholz, Papelbon, Delcarmen, Masterson, Okijima, and perhaps Bowden seems to match up quite well with the Dodgers group. In a not-so shocking related note, take on Theo’s chair in the next week. I keep reading that Teixera is a ‘perfect fit’ for Boston. While his skill set is certainly a ‘perfect fit’ with the Red Sox philosophy, I’m quite sure their current 1B just finished 3rd in the MVP voting, the current DH has finished in the Top 5 for MVP 5 of the last 6 years, and the current 3B is a 2007 World Series MVP with Gold Glove caliber defense. Not to mention that two of those three are untrade-able at the moment due to injury. So ‘perfect fit’ seems a tad overstated to me.

Dec 01, 2008 12:41 PM
rating: 0
 
GBSimons

The Red Sox do have a very nice home-grown core, but giving them credit for "developing" Matsuzaka and Okajima is overly generous.

Dec 01, 2008 13:50 PM
rating: 0
 
Nater1177

I was simply playing by the rules Joe laid down in giving the Dodgers credit for Kuroda.

Dec 01, 2008 16:39 PM
rating: 0
 
GBSimons

Fair enough, though I'd say Joe erred in giving them that credit.

Dec 02, 2008 05:41 AM
rating: 0
 
raygu1

I am not so sure I like the Weeks move. LA needs a power hitter in that lineup....sign Manny or CC. Ned has approximately $60mm to spend this offseason, and has the Schmidt and Jones contracts coming off next offseason....total of about $100mm over two seasons. Spend.

Dec 01, 2008 12:42 PM
rating: 0
 
Fresh Hops

I think Seattle is a nice choice for a next piece. I heard you almost made their short list when they went looking for a new GM.

Dec 01, 2008 12:47 PM
rating: 0
 
dogtothedog

Do the Jays

Dec 01, 2008 12:48 PM
rating: 0
 
pkeffer

Seconded.

Dec 01, 2008 16:13 PM
rating: 0
 
fishtaco

Thirded - is that a word? The Jays are in that frustrating no-man's land of being a decent club with no reasonable prospect of overtaking their competition, yet with probably too many good pieces to start from scratch. Would love to see "JP for a Day" on BP.

Dec 02, 2008 07:54 AM
rating: 0
 
Michael
(736)

I think the most interesting teams to do are those for whom it is unclear whether they should go for the gold or rebuild. In the AL, Toronto, Cleveland, Detroit and (if we didn't already see their direction) Oakland are the best candidates for this kind of column, in my opinion.

Dec 01, 2008 12:51 PM
rating: 1
 
modofacid
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

I know this is probably a silly idea, but could Pierre play 2B?

Dec 01, 2008 12:54 PM
rating: -9
 
buffum
(458)

As a lefty thrower, Pierre would be a very unorthodox second baseman.

Dec 01, 2008 13:05 PM
rating: 2
 
Matt Kory

I think at this point Pierre's best position is left bench.

Dec 01, 2008 16:03 PM
rating: 1
 
vtadave

Pierre could play second in the same universe that I am signed as the team's closer.

Dec 02, 2008 18:26 PM
rating: 0
 
modofacid

oh, and I'd love to see the my Mets in an similar article

Dec 01, 2008 12:55 PM
rating: 0
 
WilliamWright

I think the most interesting teams to tackle are those that underperformed (whether compared to PECOTA or other expectations) and see what could be done to put those teams in contention next year. The Indians, Tigers, Mets or even Braves would seem to fit this criteria.

Dec 01, 2008 13:00 PM
rating: 1
 
havens

The Cleveland Indians. Several persistent areas need to be addressed, what to do with the bullpen, team stuck in the middle, etc. Thanks.

Dec 01, 2008 13:05 PM
rating: 0
 
AdamPaulson

The Twins have a pretty strong group of internal homegrown talent:
Including:
4/5 members of their rotation: Scott Baker, Glen Perkins, Nick Blackburn, and Kevin Slowey.
Two Homegrown MVP Candidates: Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.
Jason Kubel, Denard Span, Alexi Casilla, and Cuddyer.

Maybe not quite on the level as the Dodgers, Rays, or Brewers but 80% of the rotation and five or six members of the everyday lineup ain't too bad.

Dec 01, 2008 13:08 PM
rating: 1
 
raygu1

On Weeks-as a leadoff hitter-is he any better than Pierre? Weeks had a .327 obp last year. I don't like the idea of Weeks at all

Dec 01, 2008 13:19 PM
rating: 0
 
HRFastness

Rickie Weeks 2007: .235/.374/.433
Rickie Weeks 2008: .234/.342/.398

Rickie Weeks Second Half 2007: .251/.422/.481
Rickie Weeks Second Half 2008: .263/.378/.451

Dec 01, 2008 21:38 PM
rating: 2
 
cdoyle31

Two questions/comments:

1) Who is the favorite in that hypothetical arm-wrestling match?

2) What pitcher isn't better suited for the NL?

Dec 01, 2008 13:34 PM
rating: 0
 
pestevez

Looking at your proposed Dodgers lineup, I still see a group of 5,6,7 or 8 hitters. One middle of the order impact bat could make a difference here (as Manny proved last season). A team with this much money and young talent should be able to go get that guy, whether it be Manny or someone else. On another note, I will continue to hope that by some miracle Andruw Jones becomes part of the solution instead of the problem, as I also loved the signing last year.

Dec 01, 2008 13:37 PM
rating: 1
 
JKiersky

joe- make some sense of the mets. Apparently no one else can. I'm hearing idiocy like "trade beltran" for a couple of b players. Please stop the nonsense!

Dec 01, 2008 13:41 PM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

The trade Beltran stuff drives me nuts. And exactly who plays center? Church?

Dec 01, 2008 19:41 PM
rating: 0
 
mymrbig

I feel like some team out there would be willing to exchange another bad contract for Andruw Jones. Mabye Castillo from the Mets or Johjima from the Mariners (reliable back-up catcher). Or even Schmidt or Pierre ... oh wait...

If I'm a team with a bad contract and in need of a CF, I'd be calling the Dodgers daily trying to swing something. Surely the Dodgers could be convinced to eat a couple million bucks of the contract if they might seriously consider releasing Jones. Then they could at least get something (another overpriced vet that at least plugs a roster hole, rather than creates a logjam) other than just a bad taste in their mouth. Not that I'm hight on Andruw Jones or anything, but it is hard to believe they can't find someone to swap contracts if they throw in a few million.

I like the idea of signing a middle infield vet, but I wouldn't go with Durham. Grudzielanek has been pretty consistent the past several years and could put up a decent .300/.345/.400 line with average defense. I like him more on a 1-year deal than Durham on a 2-year deal. Another option would be someone who can play SS or 2nd in case Hu fails, maybe Renteria. Someone that can be had on a 1-year deal would be best.

As for 3rd, why not give Mike Lamb a non-guaranteed deal worth $2 million if he makes the 25-man out of spring training? He was a good hitter in 2006 and 2007, but fell flat last year. His defense is poor, but he is mostly there to see if his bat revives in the NL and as competition for the younger guys.

As for the rotation, I'd make a serious run at CC if he would let me backload the deal slightly. The Dodgers will have some money coming off the books after 2009 (Jones & Schmidt). They will need a good chunk of that for arbitration raises over the next few years, but I'd feel much better about their playoff aspirations if they had a deeper rotation.

Dec 01, 2008 13:44 PM
rating: 1
 
stinkypete

"I feel like some team out there would be willing to exchange another bad contract for Andruw Jones. Mabye Castillo from the Mets... "

As soon as the hot stove started getting warm this off season, I started calling for a Jones-for-Castillo deal between the Mets and Dodgers. After pestering all of the BP authors in chat, someone finally responded to the notion with the observation that Castillo was simply hurt and bad, while Jones looked positively done. I took that to mean that, assuming the two sides managed to make the money close, you're better off with three years of a mediocrity than one year of a cipher. I don't entirely agree but it doesn't seem like the potential win-win I originally envisioned.

Dec 02, 2008 12:21 PM
rating: 0
 
Kampfer

This piece is awesome, Thanks Joe. Although your plan is great, I bet most of them are not going to happen and will get worse since their GM is Ned Colletti. I nominate the Nationals.

Dec 01, 2008 13:47 PM
rating: 2
 
DJBigNasty

I like these articles very much. I vote for Joe to tackle the Giants next.

I've already told my friends that, if they somehow sign CC, I'm giving away all my fan paraphenalia and turning my back on them. But does any free agent make sense for the Giants, or do we really need to hibernate and return in two or three years?

Thanks, Joe :-)

Dec 01, 2008 14:11 PM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

If your favorite team signs the best free agent pitcher who's been on the market in the last five years to a contract you're going to turn your back on them? Please explain.

Dec 01, 2008 16:05 PM
rating: 0
 
HRFastness

What, you mean you'd want a rotation headlined by Sabathia, Lincecum and Cain? Who would want that?

Dec 01, 2008 21:40 PM
rating: 0
 
GBSimons

Why dump a ton of money on one FA pitcher - no matter how good he is - when the Giants have holes all over the lineup? It's tough to win if you can't score. And there surely is a bitter taste remaining from the Zito contract, one that will linger for several more seasons.

Dec 02, 2008 05:44 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

"Why dump a ton of money on one FA pitcher - no matter how good he is - when the Giants have holes all over the lineup?"

Exactly for the reason you just said. The Giants have holes all over their lineup that they won't be able to fill this year, or even in the next to to three years. If they want to win now, and the NL West is nothing if not winnable, then they need pitching pitching and more (and better) pitching. A rotation of Sabathia, Cain, and Lincecum with Zito at the back end where he should be could be enough to put the Giants into the playoff picture. Thats why you spend that money on Sabathia.

Dec 02, 2008 08:38 AM
rating: 1
 
HRFastness

This.

Dec 02, 2008 15:37 PM
rating: 0
 
JoeR
(98)

Good article Joe. How about signing Randy Johnson & Pedro and hope to get a total of 25 starts between them? I'd like to think Pedro would be a good mentor to the young pitchers. I would try to sign Dunn for 2 years and trade Ethier while his value is at its highest.

Dec 01, 2008 14:34 PM
rating: 0
 
tooci4

I'd love to see you do the Mets as well, being as I'm a Phillies fan.

Dec 01, 2008 14:43 PM
rating: 0
 
jmoultz
(440)

Trade Xavier Paul and Victor Garate to the Brewers for Rickie Weeks; then make Weeks a center fielder

This seems a little crazy to me....like Homer Fan of Team A writes into a chat and asks something like "we should trade bench scrap X and a relief prospect in A ball for Albert Pujols, who blinks first?". I don't mean to imply that Weeks is star caliber like Pujols, but does anybody who subscribes to BP really think any decent GM would give up a player like Weeks for a 4th OF and a relief prospect? It's hard to argue with moving Weeks off of 2B, but I have yet to read a credible writer or scout that's ready to write him off after he just turned 26.

I don't think Melvin could get any of the Dodgers top prospects in a deal for Weeks, but Paul and Garate are probably not even in the Dodgers top 30 prospects given their ages, performances and strength of the farm system. DeJesus might tip the scale, but LA would have to attach a much better piece to him than Paul or Garate...they'd be throw-ins at best.

Dec 01, 2008 14:58 PM
rating: 7
 
shugus

The White Sox should be written about...several veterans who are on the block, large holes (center field, second base) to fill, a team coming off of a division title that could look nothing like that winning team.

Dec 01, 2008 15:24 PM
rating: 2
 
PeterBNYC

Joe: Fantastic idea. You need to do every team! Parcel it out if you have to, but I can't think of a better off-season feature. We're all doing it too, and we want to see if we dug up things the BP experts didn't!

As to the LAD 2B problem- what's wrong wirth Mike Fontenot? He's a fre agent, he won't be expensive, he brings the OBP the Dodgers need from the position, and he's competent both with the bat and in the field. The knock on him is that he never made the transition from prospect to regular, and still isn't an "everyday player". I think we just don't know, and he would be worth a try- especially because he is also a good pinch hitter- I think (may be wrong) the Cubs' best in 2008? In fact, I think both NYC clubs should be looking at him as a low cost option for their high cost duds at 2B. Love my BP!

Dec 01, 2008 15:26 PM
rating: 0
 
ZeusIsLoose

I don't think Fontenot is a free agent.

Dec 03, 2008 09:29 AM
rating: 0
 
jclaffs

Joe,

As a Padre fan, I'm used to being disappointed, but please take on the Friars--we're free of bad contracts (well, Khalil's is looking a little suspect, I guess) and you get the added excitement of doing it all with an owner cutting payroll and probably cranky from divorce proceedings!

JC, Hoboken

Dec 01, 2008 15:41 PM
rating: 0
 
pmhawkins

Joe,

As a lifelong Dodger fan, I appreciate your thoughts on where you think the Dodgers should make their moves. Unfortunately, I also think the team you put together is a .500 team and not a team that's even a sure bet to come out of the NL West (taking into account the fact that no team is ever a sure bet to emerge out of any division).

I'm sorry, but the only reason the Dodgers got as far as they did was because they had Manny Ramirez. How does switching out Weeks for Ramirez, DeWitt for Casey Blake, Hu for Berroa/Furcal, and Durham for Kent/Ozuna/DeWitt make this lineup better? It doesn't.

Alternatively, if your thinking is more along the lines of "DEFENSE," I can't argue with you that this is a better defensive lineup. However, if you're going to bookend this team with "Fielding Defense" and "Pitching" to make up for the lack of offense, you're going to need to go with something more than what amounts to last year's rotation. So even if the Dodgers can convince Lowe to stay (which seems like it'll be a long shot), we're still faced with four of the same starting five as last year (Lowe, Billingsley, Kuroda, Kershaw) and the likely addition of an unproven commodity (McDonald). Not to mention that Kershaw is likely to struggle some in his first full year in the majors.

At the end of the day, this is a significant downgrade from last year's final squad. The kids are growing into their own, it's true, but let's not forget that a big reason many of them took leaps last year was because they were hitting with THE most legitimate offensive threat in baseball for the last three months of the season. They're not going to get that kind of protection with Matt Kemp batting in Ramirez's #3 slot (and I'm a devoted Matt Kemp believer). The fielding and pitching will probably be slightly better, but the Dodgers need at least one more BIG piece if they want to think about playing October/November baseball. Personally, I'd prefer they go for Sabathia (an legitimate upgrade from Lowe), a real team-first guy who showed last season how much he's willing to kill himself to see his team win. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a rotation in the majors that bests Sabathia-Billingsley-Kuroda-Kershaw-McDonald. Now THAT's a starting five that can overcome a subpar offense.

Dec 01, 2008 16:00 PM
rating: 0
 
Morris Greenberg

Nice article Joe. I know people have already requested this but can you please do the Giants? The NL west is still weak and the Giants could maybe even make the playoffs if they play their cards right this winter. Also, I think the Giants might put out as much young players as the Dodgers on their roster just because of their emphasized youth movement and lack of talent in general.

Dec 01, 2008 19:32 PM
rating: 0
 
tdrury

"The kids are growing into their own, it's true, but let's not forget that a big reason many of them took leaps last year was because they were hitting with THE most legitimate offensive threat in baseball for the last three months of the season."

Of the young guys that batted around Ramirez, Ethier was the only one whose OPS improved after his arrival... Loney and Kemp were actually both worse, Loney by quite a bit (.296/.354/.456 before, .275/.307/.390 after).

Dec 01, 2008 20:37 PM
rating: 3
 
rionwood

Love the Article Joe, although I can't see them not signing a starter this off season. How about a challenge for your next teams...Reds, Nationals or Giants.

Dec 01, 2008 21:47 PM
rating: 0
 
jkaplow21

Nit pick alert:

"The Brewers, the Rays, and maybe the Diamondbacks are the only teams that can put that much internally-developed talent on the field in 2009."

Ignoring the WS champions I see.

Ruiz
Howard
Utley
Rollins
Burrell (if he re-signs)
Victorino (was in the minors)
Hamels
Myers
Madson
Happ
Heck, even Eaton

Dec 02, 2008 09:50 AM
rating: 0
 
BartPachino

ORIOLES

Dec 02, 2008 11:43 AM
rating: 0
 
Duranimal

I agree with pmhawkins. The proposed Dodger lineup is nothing special. For that lineup to score a lot of runs, Ethier, Kemp, or Loney would have to be a legitimate MVP candidate. Possible, but not something I would bank on.

I know the Padres don't want to deal Peavy to a NL West team, but the Padres and Dodgers seem like a good trading fit. Kooz and Khalil appear right up Colletti's alley.

Dec 02, 2008 13:45 PM
rating: 0
 
vtadave

As a lifelong Dodger fan, I'll say up front that Joe is smarter than me, but that lineup still looks way to pre-Mannyish.

I still think the key is to re-sign Manny - 3 yrs $65 million or so and then let all the other pieces fall into place.

Randy Johnson on a one-year deal or Ben Sheets for two years. Perhaps a guy like Andy Pettitte. One or two of those guys in addition to Billingsley/Kershaw/Kuroda should be enough. I'd try and bring Saito back or failing that, grab Trevor Hoffman for a year.

I love the idea of Rickie Weeks, but I don't see that deal flying without the inclusion of James McDonald and for me, that's a dealbreaker.

My plan:

1. Sign Manny Ramirez - 3 yrs $65 million (backload the deal to account for Schmidt/Jones coming off the books after 2009).

2. Sign Randy Johnson - 1 yr $8 million plus incentives

3. Re-sign Rafael Furcal - okay, probably not going to happen if another team is really willing to go four years, but a repeat of his last contract (3/39) seems fair. If Furcal can't be brought back, I'd give Hu the job over signing a guy like Renteria or Cabrera and then redirect that money to Orlando Hudson - 3 years $33 million.

4. Sign a closer - Saito or Hoffman - 1 yr $4 million

That should still leave some money to add a pitcher at midseason if needed.

2B Orlando Hudson
C Russell Martin
RF Andre Ethier
LF Manny Ramirez
1B James Loney
CF Matt Kemp
3B Blake DeWitt
SS Ching-Lung Hu

Rotation: Johnson, Billingsley, Kershaw, Kuroda, Schmidt/McDonald/Kuo/NRI

Pen: Hoffman/Saito, Broxton, Wade, Kuo/McDonald, Troncoso

Dec 02, 2008 18:43 PM
rating: 0
 
vtadave

Ok need to have Manny third there:

2B Orlando Hudson
C Russell Martin
LF Manny Ramirez
RF Andre Ethier
CF Matt Kemp
1B James Loney
3B Blake DeWitt
SS Ching-Lung Hu

Dec 02, 2008 18:46 PM
rating: 0
 
Dano

Joe, I'd like to see you pick another top team (Red Sox, Rays, Phillies, Cubs), one bad team with potential (Royals, Pirates), and 2 mediocre teams with a decent chance of contending (Indians, Reds, A's, Rockies among others) as your other choices. Teams like the O's, M's and Nats have so many holes, it's very difficult to put together a cohesive plan. I'd like to see the comparison between another top team and the Dodgers to see if there is really a need to make significant changes even if successful. And I'd like to see teams that may be contenders reviewed, even if it isn't obvious they are contenders now, but the possibility exists with a few moves (and I'm not talking sign CC, Teix, and Burnett). Sometimes it's the little moves that make all the difference. Like when the Red Sox signed two 1B/DH types in the 2002 offseason named Jeremy Giambi and David Ortiz, or when the Rays picked Carlos Pena off of the scrapheap 2 years ago.

Dec 02, 2008 19:48 PM
rating: 0
 
Jeff Lewandowski

How about profiling the Brewers next?

With CC, Sheets, and all the young bats, 2008 seemed like the window of opportunity. Sheets went down, Hart fell apart, and the Brew Crew made a quick exit from the NLDS.

Now the rumors range from trading Fielder, Weeks, Hardy (indicating a bit of rebuilding?) to signing CC or Lowe (hoping the window is still open?) or F-Rod (???)...

What do you think, Joe? What is going on with this team?

Dec 02, 2008 19:51 PM
rating: 0
 
Domenik Hixon

I'd let Manny walk. The outlay and the headache are going to outweigh his benefit for a deal exceeding two years in length. Instead, and given that the White Sox are now apparently in rebuilding mode, how about sending Scott Elbert and Hu to the Sox for Jermaine Dye (11mm through 2009 with a mutual option for 2010)?

I like the concept of signing The Big Unit as a Sunday starter to a one year, 10mm or so deal. The depth of the Dodgers rotation would be substantial and give Johnson the flexibility to skip starts here and there to rest his back.

My other move would be to chase Brian Roberts HARD, up to (but not including) sending McDonald to the Orioles for him. Kershaw, McDonald, etc., are off the table, but I would propose a package of Lambo/Withrow and see if I can get the Orioles to bite. If not, I'd go with DeWitt at 2B, DeJesus at SS and fill third with Abreau and retreads (Russ Branyan?) until I can figure out a long term answer.

2B Brian Roberts
C Russell Martin
LF Jermaine Dye
RF Andre Ethier
CF Matt Kemp
1B James Loney
3B Blake DeWitt
SS Ivan DeJesus, Jr.

or

C Russell Martin
1B James Loney
LF Jermaine Dye
RF Andre Ethier
CF Matt Kemp
2B Blake DeWitt
3B Third Baseman To Be Named
SS Ivan DeJesus, Jr.

and

Chad Billingsley
Hiroki Kuroda
Randy Johnson
Clayton Kershaw
James McDonald
Jason Schmidt/Hong Kui Cho

Dec 03, 2008 09:24 AM
rating: 0
 
John Collins
(110)

Thanks for a great piece, Joe.

How about GM for a day for the Twins? BPers frequently say that the Twins set their goals too low, being satisfied with 85 wins or so. So what should they do?

Dec 03, 2008 11:41 AM
rating: 0
 
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