Most Dodger fans are not too excited because it seems that the Dodgers didn’t sign any of the big Free Agents. They argue that the Dodgers should have spent the money on Prince Fielder instead of the same amount on Juan Rivera (4.5 mil), Tony Gwynn, Jr. (.85 mil) Jerry Harriston (2.25 mil), Mark Ellis (2.5 mil), Aaron Harang (3 mil), Chris Capuano ($3 mil), Matt Treanor (1 mil) and Adam Kennedy (.8 mil).
Those numbers are what the Dodgers are paying them next year, not counting any deferred payments. It adds up to $17.65 million, which I doubt that Fielder would have accepted, but even if he had accepted, who would pitch and where would the backups come from? Mitchell, Sellers, Van Slyke? I don’t disagree with the majority of these signings. They were necessary.
HARANG & CAPUANO – See, they don’t have to have “career years” – they just have to do what they do. That’s all. Capuano and Harang are not aces, but they are pretty good pithers at the bottom of the rotation and between the two of them you can expect close to 400 innings. Both of them have had their moments.
RIVERA & GWYNN, JR. - Rivera likely won’t duplicate what he did last year for the Dodgers, but he is a professional hitter and should put up “journeyman numbers.” Gwynn has great value as a defender at any outfield position and is a guy who could become better with age (I’m not counting on it, but he’s still an asset).
ELLIS, KENNEDY & HARISTON - Here’s where I think fans might be shocked. Ellis is a solid 2B and while he is aging, I think he still has a good year or two left. He has some power, but he’s best when he doesn’t try and be a slugger. If I were Mattingly, I would ask him to fill the Number 2 hole and see if he could duplicate 2010 when he hit .291 and had a .358 OB%. He’s had other years better than that, so it’s not like he can’t do it, because he has been there and done that!
Adam Kennedy will be counted upon to be the designated LH pinch hitter, ala Dave Hansen. That’s his role – how well he fills it remains to be seen.
I’ve saved Jerry Hariston for last, but he could be one of the best. He can play all over, including SS and has good base-stealing skills. He’s a great clubhouse guy and could really be productive if he can play 4 or 5 times a week. He’s a guy who can hit .270 with a .350 OB% in the right situation. This is the right situation. I think Jerry Hariston will be a big plus for the Dodgers.
HERE’S THE DEAL – The Dodgers will rise and fall on the shoulders of James Loney, Andre Ethier and Chad Billingsley. Loney is capable of hitting .300. Ethier should be one of the most feared hitters in the NL and Chad Billingsley should be a GREAT #2. If Loney, Ethier and Billingsley can realize their potential, then this could be fun season. Chad could have had an injury last year – maybe a leg that didn’t feel quite right (the broken one) – who knows? The fact is: he has filthy stuff! I still believe in C-Bill.
Oh… and with every passing day, the odds of the Dodgers signing Prince Fielder get better! Don’t give up yet!
P.S. Melvin Mora hurried up and retired before Ned Colletti could sign him…