This is part of a series of posts wherein we belittle teams for their offseason blunders, or else begrudgingly praise them for the occasional wily move.
The Dodgers are such a mess I don’t even know where to begin.
Things got bad in a hurry, before the offseason even started, when news of Frank and Jamie McCourt’s impending divorce proceedings broke in the middle of the team’s playoff run. Although we already knew that the McCourts were cheapskates and that their purchase of the Dodgers was dodgy at best, the ensuing court filings have revealed that their financing of the team was even more built on a house of cards than we could possibly have imagined, and that in addition to being deeply in debt, the McCourts had been siphoning revenues away from the team in order to support their lavish personal lifestyle, including 7 homes, and that to top it all off, they had been claiming that they owed no federal or state income tax for several years running.
Oh and I almost forgot to mention the court filing that revealed that the Dodgers had promised a group of potential Chinese investors that they would double ticket prices by 2018 while holding payroll static at 2009 levels. What a classy way to treat the fans, no?
Anway, given the rapidly escalating court costs and the increasing possibility that the team will have to be sold off, before the offseason even got going it seemed pretty unlikely that the Dodgers would have much money to spend on free agents. The worst was confirmed when the Dodgers didn’t offer arbitration to even a single one of their several departing free agents, including ace Randy Wolf and second baseman Orlando Hudson, ensuring that the team would miss out on several draft picks. Apparently they were so set on reducing payroll that they couldn’t even take the off chance that one of the players would accept.
So what did the Dodgers do this offseason? Well, you know things weren’t good when their biggest major league free agent signing was backup second baseman Jamey Carroll. But adding insult to injury was the fact that the Dodgers grossly overpaid Carroll, in one of the most widely mocked moves of the offseason, by lavishing a 2-year, $3.85 million deal upon him. By comparison, the Cardinals are paying Felipe Lopez, a vastly superior player, $1 million to be their everyday starter, where as Carroll is going to ride the pine. It makes no sense that when the Dodgers can’t even scrape together dollars to do any number of other, much more pressing things, they drastically overpay a bench-rider. It’s almost as if Ned Colletti snuck this one through when Frank McCourt wasn’t looking and then got scolded never to bring in any more outside free agents again for the rest of the offseason.
Or maybe Colletti got himself allowed to sign one external free agent by shipping off drastically overpaid fourth outfielder Juan Pierre plus cash to the White Sox for a couple of D-grade prospects. This did save the Dodgers about $4 million this year, just about all of which was used up on Carroll.
In other news, the Dodgers did sign decrepit free agent outfielder Garrett Anderson to a minor league deal, signed journeyman outfielder Reed Johnson to a small dollars, one-year pact, and re-upped starting pitcher Vicente Padilla and second baseman Ron Belliard. If none of these moves excites you, it’s because none of these players are any good.
Still, for some reason Joe Torre has named Padilla as his number one starter, which makes you wonder if Joe Torre is getting too old for this job. At the very least, he and GM Ned Colletti are not on the same page. Torre has openly criticized some of Colletti’s moves this offseason, broke off contract talks on an extension, and despite the fact that Colletti had signed two free agent second baseman (Belliard and Carroll), clearly viewing second base as the one hole that most needed filling, Torre went ahead and named Dodgers farmhand Blake DeWitt the starter, immediately making the two signings look strange.
All of which is not to say that the Dodgers have no chance at all this season. They still have young mashers with upside like Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, they still have young arms with upside like Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, and they still have Manny for one more season. But it’s pretty demoralizing when the front office is at each other’s throats and the team doesn’t even to the slightest thing to improve itself going forward.
Suffice to say, this is not a very fun time to be a Dodgers fan. I’m not sure how much I can bear to watch this year, if I even bother to watch at all.
Acquisitions: IF Jamey Carroll, OF Garrett Anderson, OF Reed Johnson
Losses: SP Randy Wolf, 2B Orlando Hudson, OF Juan Pierre, 1B Jim Thome, SP Jon Garland, IF Mark Loretta, RP Guillermo Mota, RP Will Ohman, IF Juan Castro, SP Eric Milton, SP Jason Schmidt
Projected Lineup, Rotation, and Closer
C – Russell Martin
1B – James Loney
2B – Blake DeWitt
3B – Casey Blake
SS – Rafael Furcal
LF – Manny Ramirez
CF – Matt Kemp
RF – Andre Ethier
SP1 – Vicente Padilla
SP2 – Chad Billingsley
SP3 – Clayton Kershaw
SP4 – Hiroki Kuroda
SP5 – Charlie Haeger
CL – Jonathan Broxton