30 Clubs in 30 Days: Los Angeles Dodgers

Posted: March 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

ImageLos Angeles is back atop the baseball landscape. The Dodgers, who have not won the National League since 1988, are all in under new ownership. After finalizing the purchase of the team last spring, it did not take long for Magic Johnson and his fellow ownership group (a bunch of rich guys, some known, some anonymous) to change the atmosphere of the organization.

Most teams wait until the offseason to complete a massive overhaul of their roster. The Dodgers did not feel like delaying their evolution. In July, the team shipped out a hoard of prospects to acquire the likes of Hanley Ramirez (.271-10-44), Shane Victorino (.245-2-15), Joe Blanton (2-4, 4.99), Adrian Gonzalez (.297-3-22), Josh Beckett (2-3, 2.93), and Carl Crawford (DNP w/ LA). In exchange for their activity (and dramatic upswing in payroll), the Dodgers went just 30-27 in the season’s final two months, missing the playoffs at 86-76 after a 47-40 first half.

When teams drastically shake up their clubhouse cohesion, it can negatively affect a lot of things. That may have been the case for the Dodgers. Or, it could have been that the players they acquired just were not that good. Victorino and Blanton were mediocre at best. Ramirez has not been an All-Star in years (even though he is paid like one). Crawford, meanwhile, is owed over $100 million through 2017, and he has hit .260-14-75 with just 23 SB in two years since signing his megadeal in Boston.

The best bets to help the Dodgers from their summer deals are Gonzalez and Beckett. The former is still a strong candidate to hit .300-25-100. But, like the rest, A-Gone is owed an unconscionable amount of money ($127 million through 2018) for production that just does not add up.

This offseason, the Dodgers added the proverbial cherry-on-top of their spending sundae, inking 2009 AL Cy Young RHP Zack Greinke (15-5, 3.48) to a then record 6 year, $159 million contract. He became the first pitcher in baseball history to lose 17+ games at one point in his career before signing a $100+ million contract. The team then posted nearly $26 million to the Hanwha Eagles before signing LHP Ryu Hyun-Jin to a 6 year, $36 million contract. By 2016, the Dodgers will have over $100 million owed to just five players. Decision making like this clearly does not leave a lot of wiggle room with the rest of the lineup and the bullpen, and the Dodgers are going to have to make do with some serious question marks at critical positions.

Five Year Review

2012: 86-76
2011: 82-79
2010: 80-82
2009: 95-67
Lost NLCS to Phillies, 4-1
2008: 84-78
Lost NLCS to Phillies, 4-1

Key Acquisitions

2B/OF Skip Schumaker (St. Louis Cardinals)
RHP Zack Greinke (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
RHP Peter Moylan (Atlanta Braves)
RHP Kevin Gregg (Baltimore Orioles)
LHP J.P. Howell (Tampa Bay Rays)
LHP Ryu Hyun-Jin (Japan)

Key Departures

INF Adam Kennedy (unsigned)
OF Shane Victorino (Boston Red Sox)
OF Juan Rivera (New York Yankees)
OF Bobby Abreu (unsigned)
RHP Joe Blanton (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
RHP Todd Coffey (unsigned)
RHP Jamey Wright (Tampa Bay Rays)
LHP Randy Choate (St. Louis Cardinals)

Projected Lineup and Rotation w/ Projections

LF Carl Crawford – .269-11-51, 23 SB
2B Mark Ellis – .257-7-41
CF Matt Kemp – .287-30-100, 20 SB
1B Adrian Gonzalez – .289-26-96
RF Andre Ethier – .276-19-81
3B Luis Cruz – .263-6-37
C A.J. Ellis – .251-7-44
SS Dee Gordon – .250-0-11, 12 SB

LHP Clayton Kershaw – 16-8, 2.76
RHP Zack Greinke – 12-8, 3.25
RHP Josh Beckett – 11-9, 3.75
LHP Ryu Hyun-Jin – 8-7, 4.05
RHP Chad Billingsley – 8-8, 3.74

RHP Brandon League – 4-3, 3.30, 17 SVRHP Kenley Jansen – 3-2, 2.21, 10 SV

2013 Outlook

On paper, the Dodgers have a very talented (and expensive) roster. Their willingness to take on bloated contracts from Boston and Miami puts them in a good situation for 2013. But, it has the potential to turn disastrous in the future.

The lineup was crippled by the World Baseball Classic injury to Hanley Ramirez, who will miss up to 8 weeks to start the season. Carl Crawford’s health is also in doubt. Although, the veteran claims that he will be ready for opening day. If he is not, prepare to see Skip Schumaker starting in left field. The infield outside of Gonzalez is mediocre at best without Ramirez, and could be a serious bane to the Dodgers moving forward.

The rotation is incredibly deep after the team brought in Greinke and Ryu in the offseason. Lost in translation right now are LHP Ted LillyRHP Aaron Harang, and LHP Chris Capuano. Expect at least one of those three to not be on the roster in a week.

The Dodgers have the experience and the talent to compete for the best record in the National League. However, their chemistry and health issues warrant concern. I foresee Los Angeles having a better season than 2012, although ultimately, I am not sure that their current makeup is sustainable. The Dodgers will win between 87-93 games, competing for a playoff spot until the bitter end.


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