We continue our occasional series wherein we examine some teams in transition and make hasty judgements about who they should hire and fire for next season. Up next: the troubled Los Angeles Dodgers.
SP Hiroki Kuroda
SP Ted Lilly
SP Vicente Padilla
OF Reed Johnson
OF Jay Gibbons
C Rod Barajas
SP Chad Billingsley
C Russell Martin
1B James Loney
2B Ryan Theriot
RP George Sherrill
CL Hong Chih Kuo
OF Scott Podsednik
The Dodgers have been making some poor decisions for several years now under GM Ned Colletti and the batty ownership of the McCourts, and 2011 might be the year it all hits the fan. Several useful pieces have been dealt away for little or no return, and the Dodgers have failed to lock up there remaining good young players to long term deals. And amazingly, next season the Dodgers will still be paying a more than $21 million of their payroll to long departed former players Manny Ramirez, Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt, Nomar Garciaparra, and Andruw Jones. Meanwhile, ever since news of the McCourts’ divorce proceedings broke last November, the Dodgers have gone into extreme penny-pinching mode.
The basic fear for Dodgers fans is that the penny pinching will continue, that as with last offseason the Dodgers will fail to sign any marquee free agents and basically let all of their free agents walk, further watering down a club that struggled to win 80 games this year. It is all too easy to imagine the Dodgers deciding that they are fine with retaining Scott Podsednik as their starting left fielder to replace Manny Ramirez, that Ryan Theriot and James Loney are perfectly adequate as starters on the right side of the infield, and that it is fine to sign a bunch of minor league free agents to fill out the rest of the rotation behind Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw.
But Colletti has repeatedly said that he is gravely disappointed with the 2010 club and intents to “shake things up” in the offseason, so the even worse fear is that Colletti will go nuts and trade away some of the little talent remaining at the major league level or in a once-stacked minor league system in order to get some big names, which given Colletti’s abominable record of bad trades and poor evaluation of talent, is quite a scary prospect indeed.
So what should the Dodgers do? Let’s have a look…
Hiroki Kuroda – Rehire
Kuroda has been a mainstay in the rotation the past 3 seasons, providing stability and reliability. The Dodgers should definitely look into whether he’d be willing to resign. Japanese players have often valued proximity to Japan and comfort-level over max dollars in the past, so he may be willing to return on a reasonable contract.
Ted Lilly – Rehire
Lilly will be one of the better starters on the market, but is a Southern California native and did well in LA. The Dodgers should make a strong push to resign him. Lilly is very good, perhaps even underrated these days, and the Dodgers have three holes in the rotation to fill.
Vicente Padilla – Fire
The Dodgers have gotten about as much as they can out of Padilla, who is injury-prone and inconsistent. They should focus on attempting to resign Kuroda and Lilly and look for a bargain buy to fill in the last spot in the rotation, or go with an internal option.
James Loney – Fire
Loney’s punchless bat is not adequate for the starting first baseman on a contending team. Although he is still under team control, Dodgers should explore options for trading him to a team that overvalues his relatively big name and whatever upside potential he might still have left.
Scott Podsednik – FIRE
Podsednik is highly questionable defensively and barely scratching replacement level with his bat. He still has the glimmer of an aura lingering from his World Series run with the 2005 White Sox, but that was going on 7 seasons ago.
Ryan Theriot – Rehire
The Dodgers should have never traded for Theriot, who is thoroughly mediocre, but now they have no other options and they have much bigger holes to fill so at this point their only real option is to bring him back on a one-year deal.
Rod Barajas – Rehire
Barajas is no great shakes, but with Russell Martin a huge question mark after exploding his hip joint, the Dodgers need to take what they can get at catcher.
Russell Martin – Rehire
It’s actually a tougher call on Martin that it might seem, even though he is one of the team’s marquee names, because he’s due for a raise in arbitration but nobody is really sure if he can even come back from his horrific injury, especially as a catcher. But if the Dodgers trade or non-tender Martin, how do you replace him? It just makes Ned Colletti’s already incredibly boneheaded trade of Carlos Santana to the Indians as a throw-in to save a few million in exchange for 2 months of Casey Blake seem even that much more boneheaded. It seems the Dodgers have no choice but to gamble on Martin’s return to good health.
Any decent starting leftfielder – HIRE!
The biggest hole on the club is in left field. Unfortunately, the market for outfielders is ridiculously thin this year once you get past Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford, neither of whom seems like a likely fit for the Dodgers. One option might be taking a gamble on Magglio Ordonez, who is 37 and trying to come back from a grisly broken ankle. But whether through free agency or a trade, the Dodgers absolutely must find a leftfielder.