Who is the most important acquisition for the Dodgers over the winter? Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com has the answer and wrote a mouthful in these two sentences:
One of the key acquisitions could prove to be a non-player. After dismissing Dave Hansen, they are looking for a new hitting coach that can get through to the star-studded offense with a team approach that will turn wasted opportunities into runs scored.
That is about as simple as you can put it. Of course, it was the coach. A good coach can do a lot for a hitter. I’m not saying Dave Hansen was bad, but for some reason or another, the Dodgers never really hit as a team. It was like everyone was doing their own thing. They didn’t pick up the runner, sacrifice, hit to the opposite side and well… they played like individuals – not a team. Either Hansen was not preaching the rioght stuff or the hitters weren’t listening. Either way, a change has to come.
They weren’t clutch – they often choked in the clutch, but that’s over and now it’s time for a team hitting doctor to take over. The new guy (whoever he is) has his hands full with a team of talented, but individualistic hitters. His biggest task is to get them to buy in to a philosophy that has worked for over a hundred years. It worked for the Giants this year, didn’t it? Who will it be and can he do it?
With the right guy, the Dodgers could lead all of baseball in runs. With the wrong guy, or if the players don’t buy in, the next season could be just like the last!
The Dodger pitching, while having some question marks, is in much better shape. The Dodgers’ team ERA was 3.34 which was good for #3 in all of baseball, just .01 behind the Washington Nationals 3.33 Team ERA. There are question marks, with Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley being at the top. Both could miss the season or both could pitch effectively, although Billingsley pitched two pain-free innings yesterday and hit 94 on the gun.
Clayton Kershaw has a few questions surrounding his hip, but it seems that he will be OK. Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Josh Beckett are allegedly healthy as well. Joe Blanton? I could see him get re-signed (if the price were right), but I don’t think it’s likely.
The Dodgers say they want to re-sign Brandon League and Randy Choate – I think League will get a 3 year/$25-$28 mil deal. If the Dodgers think he’s worth it, they will sign him. I think they will. Randy Choate is recently divorced and has two young daughters in Florida, so I could see him trying to make a deal with Miami or Tampa Bay or even the ATL to stay close to his family. The Dodgers already have Paco and Elbert anyway.
The Dodgers would be wise to get another starter. Hiroki Kuroda is on the list. I must confess that I didn’t think he would hold up this year, so what do I know (219 innings, 3.32 ERA – his best year yet). Maybe he would want to come back on a one-year deal. Somebody might give him more, however. Then there is always Zach Greinke, Jake Peavy, Kyle Loshe, James Shields, David Price, Ryan Dempster, maybe Ervin Santana or Dan Haren. Pick one… or two.
I still like Cody Ross as the 4th outfielder and I am still skeptical of Carl Crawford. I said the Red Sox would rue the day they signed him, but it thought it would be three or four years into the deal. The Dodgers have him for those years. God help us!
However, there are reports that the Dodgers are open to trading Andre Ethier. It would take the right situation for that to happen. I still look at Boston (with his best friend, Dustin Pedroia) or New York as options. They can afford him and may have a need. How about Andre Ethier to the Yankees for A-Rod and $50 million dollars, then sign Josh Hamilton? How about Andre Ethier and Joc Pederson to the Red Sox for Jacoby Ellsbury? These are all silly ideas… or are they? These guys look ready to spend.
P.S. Since you should only say good things about players who are gone, I will say this about Rivera, Coffey and Treanor: They are gone – GOOD! Is Uribe still drawing air?