Four hypothetical WBC teams, Jack Cust's favorite snack, and other stuff.
It's 2013, which, as you well know, means it's time for the World Baseball Classic, which in turn means that it's time to speculate about rosters and project results and ask just how much Italian blood you need to be eligible and complain about Team Canada's weird caps and be jealous of Team Mexico's sweet sweet sweet unis. More than all that, though, here's what I'm really interested in:
The Dodgers' 2013 payroll is already around $200 million. Is the Dodgers' 2013 roster a good roster?
You know all about the money. The Dodgers’ new ownership group has taken on the ungodly sum of $260 million in contracts from the Red Sox, and $400 million in total salary obligations (including acquisitions and re-signings). These figures are wholly abstract; they’re so vast that our brains can’t even process them. Us normal folk have no frame of reference.
There’s no question that the moves Colletti and company have made improve the team in the short term. Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez are massive upgrades over Dee Gordon and James Loney. Shane Victorino is better than the three-headed left-field monster of Tony Gwynn, Jr., Juan Rivera, and Bobby Abreu. In a tight National League West race, these late additions might be enough to put the Dodgers over the top. And once a team reaches the playoffs, we all know that just about anything can happen.
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A tough test ahead for 'a Dodger team that is a wonder.'
The Thursday Takeaway
A week ago, when the Dodgers put the finishing touches on a 7-6 win in their series opener against the White Sox, broadcaster Vin Scully was as captivated by their continued success as the fans watching on TV. That win was the 41st of the season for Los Angeles, then a league high, and after it, Scully—with all the eloquence you’d expect from the game’s best broadcaster—described “a Dodger team that is a wonder. You wonder how they do it.”
With his roster ravaged by injuries—most notably Matt Kemp’s hamstring, which has sidelined him essentially since mid-May—manager Don Mattingly fielded a lineup that could have made even the most optimistic fan cringe. Leadoff man Dee Gordon entered with an on-base percentage of .279. He was followed by Elian Herrera, a minor-league veteran getting his first look at the age of 27. And yes, that was indeed Jerry Hairston, Jr., of the .702 career OPS, batting fifth.
Questions about a recent Rangers draft pick sends Jason down the rabbit hole.
It started innocently enough with a series of questions thrown my way on Twitter, questions that I wanted to answer but stumbled when I tried to arrive at an answer. It was the first evening of the amateur draft, and the Texas Rangers had just selected an absolute toolshed, a player that national pundits were quick to point out had one of the highest tool-based ceilings in the entire class. The player’s name was Lewis Brinson, a high school outfielder from Florida; to quote Kevin Goldstein, “monster athlete; sashimi raw.”
As the scouting reports rolled in, fans started to put the Brinson puzzle together, a gifted athlete with well above-average defensive tools at a premium position, plus speed, impressive power potential, a questionable hit tool, and a lot of game/tool immaturity. It was said that Brinson had the type of talent to be taken at the top of the draft, but his lack of refinement almost caused him to slide out of the first round. On the surface, it appeared that the fans offering comments and questions on my timeline were excited enough about the ceiling to be patient with the sashimi. I put my electronic pen down on the electronic page and suggested that a player of Brinson’s physical talent will be well worth the wait, even if he requires several years in the low minors to start showing signs of life. I praised the Rangers for going the high risk/high reward route, taking a raw athlete with tools over a more refined product with a higher floor at the expense of a lower ceiling. I praised myself for praising the pick. I put on a Peter Cetera record, American flag swimming trunks, and I praised myself to sleep.
We’re roughly 20 percent of the way through the 2012 baseball season, and I have to file a column for Wednesday. That means that it’s the perfect time to take a look at this year’s leading out-of-the-gate over- and underachievers!