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Are The Offensive Pieces Already In Place?

Are The Offensive Pieces Already In Place?

Dodger fans are currently lamenting how bad their team is.  Most fans are currently are Frank McCourt bashers and are convinced that theLong Before Slim-Fast...situation is hopeless.  I am going to suggest that they are “way wrong.”  The Dodgers need tweaking, not a complete overhaul!

At the start of 2010, this is what was said about the Padres by numerous National Writers and Publications:

  • Projected finish:  5th because you can’t finish any lower.
  • They look like a glorified Taxi Squad.
  • They cannot compete for Free Agents.
  • Their farm system is an embarrassment.
  • They will deal away their beloved star – Adrian Gonzalez.
  • Change won’t happen overnight.

All of those projections were absolutely wrong.  Things certainly looked bleaker for the Padres last year than they do for the Dodgers this year.  I think this is a team in need of tweaking and I believe that we will have to continue to have faith in the youngsters.  San Diego’s youngsters delivered BIG TIME.

Cincinnati was projected to finish 4th and look what they accomplished.  The Texas Rangers and Tampa Rays were both selected to finish third or lower in their divisions.  The point is that all teams have question marks.  The Dodgers also have question marks.  Unless you are the Yankees, spending money is no guarantee that you will do better.  The keys to doing better are making a couple of key acquisitions and having existing players step up along with a rookie or three developing.

The Dodgers young nucleus may be ready, willing and able to deliver in 2011.  The pieces might need to be shuffled however.  There is also an element of luck (where preparation meets opportunity) involved.  Case-in-point:  Aubrey Huff was a player no one wanted and the Giants signed him for $2 mil – he was arguably their MVP.  Buster Posey also stepped up.  We knew he was good, but we didn’t know he would be THIS good THIS soon.   Juan Uribe also hit 24 HR for the Giants.  Juan Uribe!  So, sometimes you just get lucky or maybe just catch lightening in a bottle.  There will lots of Aubrey Huffs in the Free Agent Pool this year.  Obviously, there is Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, but their price will be huge.  I am going to suggest that the Dodgers can obtain 4 or 5  position players and pitchers who can be had on the cheap, and who would cost less than Werth and Crawford COMBINED!  Those 4 or 5 players might make more of an impact.  It’s too early to speculate who that might be however.

I have one major question: Is it time to move Russ Martin to 3B and take the defensive pressure off of him?  He is recovering from a hip injury and maybe he just needs to be the 3rd catcher and see if playing everyday at 3B can help him focus on his hitting and regain his form.  He used to pretty good, if you remember.  While not a prototypical 3B, Russ Martin’s best year when he hit .293 with 32 doubles 19 HR and 87 RBI would not look bad in the Dodgers lineup.  Maybe playing a less demanding position would help him get that back.  Maybe a new hitting coach would help.  I don’t know if he can come back offensively, but I do know that he can play a good 3B defensively.  That leaves Casey Blake as a backup at 1B, 3B and OF, as well as a pinch-hitter.  The only reason I consider doing this with Martin is the tremendous amount of respect he gets from his teammates.

Catcher: Catcher is covered with Ellis and Barajas, with Martin as the emergency catcher.

First Base:  I have been willing to trade James Loney in the past, and like many on the Dodgers, he as underachieved this year, but his 87 RBI  was second on the team, and his defense is solid, if not spectacular.  The Dodgers could do a whole lot worse than Loney, and with a new batting coach, maybe he can find that elusive power.  He’s capable of hitting 25 HR and batting .300.  Will he?  When will he?

Second Base:  Ryan Theriot is a very capable defensive 2B.  He can do things on defense that Blake DeWitt could only dream about.  I just don’t think he is a top-of-the-order hitter.  But, he does have a career OB% of .348, and if I thought he could improve on that (also under a new hitting coach), I would say that if the Dodgers could sign him for less than $2 mil a year, they should do that.  If he wants more, I wouldn’t take that risk and  I am not afraid to start Ivan DeJesus, Jr. there, with Carroll as a very capable backup.

ShortStop:  I have been fearful of Raffy’s injury history, but I have a feeling that he will train harder than every before and could have the moster year he was having this year when his back acted up.  The good news is that it’s not structural – just muscle related.  He’ll  be playing for a new contract and 140-145 games with him healthy would bode well for the Dodgers.  I believe that fans could be very happy with Raffy in his “Swan Song.”

Third Base:  Russ Martin on a wing and a prayer that he can do the job justice (hey, do you have a better “realistic” idea?).  Maybe Martin can be the 2011 Aubrey Huff… or maybe he will be non-tendered.  Stay tuned.

Left Field:  If the right free agent fell in the Dodgers lap, then I would leap, but I am all for going into Spring Training with Xavier Paul, Jay Gibbons, Jerry Sands, Trayvon Robinson and some other stiff competing for this job.  Let the best man win!  I can really see Paul or Robinson stepping up (maybe a platoon) although Robinson is better suited to hit #2,

Center Field:  As I have stated, Matt Kemp can be a monster if he can keep focused.  He has to take his off-season seriously and come back with a new mindset next year.  He regressed in every area this year, but he has the tools and the will to change.  He’s says he’s going to be a 40/40 man.  I don’t doubt the 40 HR.  40 steals might be a stretch.  I look for a batting average around .270 next season for him with 40 HR and 100+ RBI.  Just pencil him in at Cleanup and leave him there all season.  Let’s not forget that Matt lead the team in HR and RBI – the best is yet to come for this kid!

Right Field:  Andre Ethier was hampered by ankle and hand injuries all season.  Whether he should have been shelved is a question no one can answer.  It was what it was, and just like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier will have a chip on his shoulder and be hungry to prove his worth.  Look for a monster year from him.

Bench: Along with Carroll, it’s time for Hu.

Current Projected Lineup:

  1. Furcal  SS
  2. Robinson LF
  3. Ethier  RF
  4. Kemp  CF
  5. Loney  1B
  6. Martin  3B
  7. Ellis?Barajas
  8. De Jesus, Jr.  2B

Dodger News:

  • Somethings up with Logan White and the Dodgers – not sure what.
  • Honeycutt is considering coming back.
  • Could Willie Randolph be the bench coach?
  • Will Tim Wallach be on the staff?
  • What about Brad Ausmus?  Will he be on the coaching staff?

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

28 Responses to “Are The Offensive Pieces Already In Place?”

  1. Ken says:

    You got the Dodgers right. But will Bud allow them to sign any pitchers?

    Does anyone remember that the Padres’ record in the second half of 2009 was above .500 and they have very good coaches. The only question for the Padres was how long into the season their pitchers would last. The lasted longer thatn anticipated and thereofer may have tired arms in 2011. I had no doubt that the PAdres would be a .500 team in 2010.

    Explanation –

    Nolan Ryan!!!

    Dusty Baker!!!

    Joe Madden!!!

    Joe Torre Doh!

  2. Badger says:

    Tweaking?

    Robinson, DeJesus, Martin at third looks like more than a tweak to me. That is 4 new position players from last years Opening Day lineup.

    And who starts after Kershaw and Billingsley? Is Broxton your closer?

    James Loney hit .327 WRISP and that is why he ended up with as many ribbies as he had. He is entering his prime. This is a guy who should hit .300 with 20 and 100 every year. If he is on a good team, he does that while competing for a Gold Glove. Will this be a good team in 2011? Who knows?

    Theriot is decent, he will hopefully do what he usually does (.280) and not what he did for us (.240) but again, who knows.

    Martin? Who knows.

    Raffy? Who knows.

    Matt Kemp? So much talent, so little between the ears.

    A rookie in LF? Could be a sign of where this team actually is.

    Ethier? He should bounce back.

    May I please try again to set you straight on how most of us feel about McCourt. Nobody in here has said it’s hopeless. It is indeed dire, and unsure, but hopeless is a term you came up with. Who knows what is going to happpen but it is clear McCourt has no money of his own, is deep in debt and has a wife that wants to carve what is left of him in half. Not good Mark. But, we all know that millionaires live under different rules. There may be some bailout money lying around stuffed in some billionaire’s couch and all of sudden out of nowhere McImpecunious is flush. That kind of thing happens all the time at the top of the pyramid. Didn’t happen in my divorce, but, again, different rules.

    We just have to wait and see who owns this team and how much leverage they will be able to yield.

    Who are the 2011 Dodgers? ………… who knows?

  3. Mark Timmons says:

    Ken,

    I’ll cover the pitchers in my next post, but here’s a quick preview:

    1. I doubt that Broxton can be traded, so all we can do is hope he can recover;
    2. Kuroda would probably be willing to sign a 1 year $10-12 mil deal. I’d do that, but say no to Lilly on a “Wolfesque” Contract;
    3. I’d take a change on a guy like Aaron Harang at the right price and then find the #5 starter from the following:

    DeLaRosa, Haeger, Ely, Mosasterios, et al.

    I’d try and buy a couple of relievers.

  4. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    I find things I can agree with in Mark’s thread and in Badger’s reply. Too busy right now to say much more. Maybe later. Not sure.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/10/ten-and-five-rights-for-furcal-pujols.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MlbTradeRumors+%28MLB+Trade+Rumors%29

    And the above is why Raffy should get sufficient rest in 2011. And if he’s not hurt, how much resentment might he have if he doesn’t get the 600 plate appearances?

  5. Ray says:

    I say no on Martin….we need a power hitter at 3B.

  6. Badger says:

    Ray, methinks we are already paying about $10 million for Blake and Martin. Pick one for your third baseman. I doubt anyone else wants them for those prices.

    Interesting point on Furcal – he gets $12 million next year so it would be great for the Dodgers if he actually got 600+ plate appearances and hit .300 with them, but if he does get 600 PA, no matter what he does with them it’s going to cost another $12 million the following year. For an aging SS with a history of injuries. Who the heck negotiated THAT deal? Oh. Nevermind.

    Of course it’s still way too early to KNOW anything, but it is being suggested that Kuroda will likely get another 3 year offer from somebody. Will he take it or go back to Japan? Who knows. I think we can count on Lilly getting a “Wolfesque” type deal. Wolf sure earned his money this year, so I would expect Lilly to do the same. I think both Lilly and Kuroda will get 3 year deals. Why would Kuroda sign a one year deal here? The only answer I can give is one more year is all the longer he wants to stay in the U.S., but I don’t know that.

    So much is just unknown.

    • Martin can be non-tendered, no? I think he can. Kuroda has been quoted as saying he only wants to pitch one more year in MLB.

      • Badger says:

        Yes, Martin can be non-tendered, but it is my opinion that the Dodgers wouldn’t do that. He is only 28 and to let him go for nothing would be – irresponsible. Of course, this is the Dodgers. I would think they would try to trade him first. He is a two time All Star and former Gold Glove winner.

        I hadn’t heard Kuroda being quoted about anything regarding his future. I have heard rumors, so maybe you could post your source?

  7. AnewBlueDay/Roger Dodger says:

    Gee, I also dropped my cane reading Mark’s editorial above. His, the sky is not falling, McCourt is really a good bud, just a tweak here and a tweak there, and the Dodgers are winners.

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

    The Dodgers have two good solid pitchers, but both were out pitched several times last year. On the other hand, they lost some games that the pen could not hold or the Dodger hitters forgot to show up.

    Martin at third. Mark, he could not hit even as a catcher for the past season and more. To go from Casey to Russ Martin at third base is a downgrade.

    Ellis and Barajas you suggest. Fine. But not much really. Yet at this point with McCourt as owner, that is about as good as it can get because there is so much MORE to fix on this team.

    Left field. You suggest Xavier Paul, Jay Gibbons, Jerry Sands, Trayvon Robinson — that is not a fix, but a plug. Just plug someone cheap to play out there. I want a baseball player, where is Roy Hobbs when you need him!!!

    If there is a new owner by Jan-Feb — get a real 2nd baseman somewhere. Where is Jeff Kent when you need him !!!!

    SS could be a mess. Furcal is penciled in, but then will be penciled out to the DL several times. They will throw in a body.

    For this team to turn around — it needs some major league hitters. I keep Loney and his glove and help him develop more at the plate — but somehow fix 2nd, 3b, lf, c — that is 4 of 8 position players. That is a lot.

    Remember, the other teams in the N.L. West will be stronger and two of them with post-season experience.

    No, the sky is not fall, if already fell and the sky is very dark right now. Get McCourt and his family out of the Dodger tradition and someone else in here. That is not McCourt bashing — bashing could be called murder. I might call NCIS:LA and have them take care of Frankie boy. Put him on a banana boat to South America without a passport and no suitcase.

  8. lawdog says:

    Amen Roger. Very well said. ;)

  9. T says:

    Oh good God! Russ Martin at 3B? The guy’s offense was barely passable as a C so why the hell would we move him to an offensive position? That’s as good as signing Pedro Feliz to be our starting 3B. Jesus Christ! It’s ideas like this that make me think Dodger fans are fools.

  10. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    I am one of the “fools” that suggested that Russell Martin should be considered at 3B. And the key word here is “considered”.

    None of us knows Martin’s true physcal condition at this time (the Dodgers probably don’t either), so it just might be that he’s non-tendered and doesn’t sign back with LA. But if he returns, it just might be that crouching behind the plate would not be advisable.

    Yes, Martin’s offense has been down for the past several years, and there is no guarantee that he will ever regain even a semblence of his pre-2008 self. But if he were to get his head on straight and hit the ball where it’s pitched, and stop swinging from his heels and trying to pull everything, he just might re-discover a good part of his hitting prowess. Or maybe he never will, or perhaps his injury will limit what he could otherwise achieve.

    Right now we have Casey Blake at 3B, and no indication that the Dodgers are willing or able to spend or pull off a trade that will get us an impact third baseman. If Russell Martin returns to health, I can’t see what’s lost by at least giving him some time at 3B, and see what develops. Barring a 3B acquisition, he would at least be giving Casey Blake time off that he will need to remain fresh, and just might perhaps surprise. And it wouldn’t hurt to also have a third string catcher around.

    So if the Dodgers find another 3B alternative that works w/o Casey Blake or Russell Martin, then I’m all for it. Otherwise, considering Martin makes all the sense in the world, i.e., if he’s up to it physically.

    And finally, I personally object to people using demeaning language, whether it’s directed at an individual, or as in this case, directed generally at various persons who happen to hold a different point of view. This site and sites like it are far more agreeable when its participants are civil towards each other. And if you should think someone is a fool, a moron, an idiot, etc., that’s fine. Just keep it to yourself.

  11. AnewBlueDay/Roger Dodger says:

    Hey T. Are you still breathing? Do you have a pulse? If so, watch out that Mark does not reach out and beat you over the head. Russ Martin is his guy.

    Also, all that talk last winter about trading for Doc Halladay. And the talk that the Dodgers did not need him. And then that talk that the Dodgers should get Lee. And the talk that the Dodgers did not need him.

    After all, the Dodgers had Padilla, and Monasterios, and Ely, and Heager, and those two almost brothers with the same last name. Surely any two would pan out with Clayton and Chad and Kuroda (if he could throw the ball to home plate).

    But we did not need Halladay nor Lee.

    That kind of talk cannot go on this winter. If the Dodgers want to compete and have a shot. At least two new pitchers are needed. ASAP. And half of the pen.

  12. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    No doubt the Dodgers could have used more pitching in 2010, and definitely need more for 2011. But they also need to score some runs, w/o which any pitchers will have trouble winning. I’m hoping for comebacks from Kemp, Ethier and Loney, which would go a long way towards putting some runs on the board. But we also have questions at 2B, 3B, and even SS if Furcal doesn’t remain healthy. And although I think Ellis and Barajas can provide us enough behind the plate, that is by no means a slam dunk, and in large measure depends on how much offense comes from elsewhere in the lineup. And most assuredly we need an outfielder with some power (unless the power comes from elsewhere).

    If the Dodgers had either Halladay or Lee in 2010, they would still be watching the playoffs on TV.

  13. AnewBlueDay/Roger Dodger says:

    Agree Brooklyn, but having Halladay and/or Lee out there once every 5 games, would have given positive lift to the team that Padilla, and Monasterios, and Ely, and Heager did not.

    Let us play the IF game here.

    If a real, or solid major league 2B had been signed or traded for over the past winter and not used Blake and Theriot there — that would have made a major difference. If Halladay or Lee would have been added to the pitching staff. If the owner would have filled Manny’s shoes earlier with a better LF that we ended up with — if . . .

    I believe that the 12 games the Dodgers were behind at the end — just might have been picked up — and the entire team would have been in better shape.

    Then many of the others on the team would have up their game because there would have been something to UP about.

    But, all for not. That is why I saw it coming back in Spring Training that it just might be an 81-81 season — I was wrong — it was an 80 – 82 season. I missed it by a negative 2.

  14. Badger says:

    You guys remember all the pitchers we tried in the rotation this year? It was a laundry list of washed up arms, and the reason that happened is because we were never in on the bidding for Halladay or Lee – or even our own Randy Wolf.

    I understand T’s frustration, but I am in agreement with Brooklyn’s take on Martin. Why? Because he is already here, arbitration eligible and we might as well test him and see if he has anything left. Isn’t it that or just release him? Maybe that is what people want, but in my opinion he is young enough to get it back together, as long as he doesn’t cost too much. He made $5 mil this year, considering what a crappy year it was for him, a raise shouldn’t be forthcoming. Those arb guys can prove to be a real pain.

    At this point, in this division, .500 next year looks like a reasonable goal to me.

  15. AnewBlueDay/Roger Dodger says:

    Badger, I agree to try Marin there. But then the window for making a significant move to strengthen 3b is almost closed. Blake or Martin would be there.

    Okay, fine. But then bring in a real second baseman who will make a difference.

    The Dodger lineup cannot hide too many players. Hiding projection: LF, C, 2B, 3B. that is a lot of 8th place hitters.

  16. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Roger,

    Actually, you missed by only ONE game.

    No doubt a Halladay or Lee would have picked up the team, and perhaps created a positive karma that would have been contagious (sort of an anti-Manny). I don’t discount the positive effect that either Lee or Halladay could have had. Maybe the presence of one of those guys would have led Torre to make more frequent use of Monasterios out of the pen. Perhaps their ability to go deeper into games would have taken some of the load off the bullpen, especially Troncoso. And I understand that beating the teams you’re contending with means two games in the standings (we win, they lose). But that being said, I still doubt if the Dodgers would being playing now (but you never know). However, they would have been better than 80-82. Besides, both Lee and Halladay have been on teams that haven’t made the post-season.

    Of course, Lee is still a possibility for next year (I can dream, can’t I?). Whatever the case, at the very least the Dodgers need to add offense (and pitching), and it would be nice if they at least spent some money on an outfielder like Werth or Crawford (there I go, dreaming again).

  17. AnewBlueDay/Roger Dodger says:

    Agree Brooklyn. So it kind of comes down to $$$$. If McCourt still owns the team, then Program #1, kind of like last season, McCheap, some old guys, some young guys, hope for the best, push Bills & Clayton to the limit and then hope that the Giants, Padres, Rockies, and D-Backs fall on their butts all season and hand it to the Dodgers.

    Program #2, either a new owner, or some new buy in owners to assist McCourt (if that is possible), add a new 2B, fix 3B, and a power bat to LF, or CF and move Etheir to LF and Kemp to RF. Add a real catcher. And fix the pitching. That can have a solid chance to win.

  18. Mark Timmons says:

    The Dodgers tried to get Lee, but were outbid and Halladay would not come to the West Coast under any conditions. Period! Lee was an option, but Halladay never was.

    Martin? It is what it is.

  19. Badger says:

    They said the same thing about Kevin Brown and he came west. Only cost $105 million and a private plane back to Georgia whenever he wanted to go.

    They all go where the money is. Period!

  20. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    If they don’t just go where the money is, well here’s another reason they’re not coming to Dodgertown.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dodgers/2010/10/more-evidence-of-dodgers-decline-si-poll-of-players-says-they-would-rather-be-angels.html

    But mostly, I still think it’s the money. EXCLAMATION POINT!!!!!!!

  21. Mark Timmons says:

    Roy Halladay could have gotten more money than what he signed for. Halladay is a different breed of cat, but Badger is right. Halladay would have came to LA for $105 mil over 3 years. I am sure of it!

  22. AnewBlueDay/Roger Dodger says:

    Thanks for the site Brooklyn: especially the quote –

    “The Dodgers are no longer the destination of choice for players, according to a poll of 284 major leaguers conducted by Sports Illustrated.”

    I have been saying this for a couple of years now. Who wants to sign with a team that is a train wreck! The Dodgers are now a joke in baseball. Wake up and smell the smell . . . the organization is in trouble.

    Baseball writers, blogers, and baseball talk shows (TV & radio) when commenting on what the Dodgers might do — usually say something like: Until the ownership issues are dealt with and we know where that is going, possible to new owners, the Dodgers hands are tied and there is not much available funds to compete with the other teams making moves.

  23. Badger says:

    Don’t forget the private jet Mark.

    And remember, that $105 XL contract will be spread out over the next decade, so, it isn’t really a debt at all. The Dodgers will figure out how to pay for it later, or just leave it sitting there for the future owner to pay.

    “Who wants to sign with a team that is a train wreck!”

    I would! Of course, I am a 62 year old shortstop with questionable knees and in need of some stronger reading glasses. But I think I could still put up GA numbers, and I would do it for the minimum.

    The Dodgers need to commit to some FA’s and do it sooner than later cuz ifn they don’t, I can see some season ticket holders closing their collective checkbooks. If that happens, McCrapper is going further down the McLoo.

    We are all in a wait and see mode.

  24. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Give me a 10 year contract at the MLB minimum, and I’ll take it.

  25. Badger says:

    As illegitimi non carborundum GM I am only willing to offer a 3 year deal at the minimum.

    Take it or leave it.

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