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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Coming off the books

These are the players and their salaries who are in their contract years (last year in their contract):

Player Salary($)
Rafael Furcal 13,730,196
Jeff Kent 9,814,117
Derek Lowe 9,500,000
Nomar Garciaparra 8,516,697
Brad Penny* 8,000,000
Esteban Loaiza 7,500,000
Gary Bennett 850,000

*Brad Penny has a club option at $8.5 million for 2009 that the Dodgers will definitely pick up.

The only person noteworthy enough for the Dodgers to resign is Furcal. Assuming that the Dodgers do resign him, the Dodgers will still free up over $36.5 million in their payroll. That is definitely enough money to sign another impact player. With Jones in his contract year + another impact player and the rest of the young Dodgers club, the Dodgers should have a legitimate shot at winning the world series in 2009.

I think there is going to be alot of debate over whether the Dodgers should resign Derek Lowe or not. Personally, I do not think they need to. First, Lowe is old, I believe he's going to be 35 by the end of his contract. Usually, pitchers do not get older when they get older (with exception of Clemens but he allegedly took a whole crapload of steriods). Secondly, his agent is Scott Boras who will definitely want a team to overpay for him. I don't think the Dodgers need to overpay in years and money to resign Lowe. Thirdly, we have three pitchers who should be ready for the majors by 2009: Kershaw, Elbert and MacDonald. Kershaw and Elbert (assuming he comes back from surgery in good condition) both have potential to be aces while MacDonald could be a very good #3 pitcher.

Once again, the future looks bright. extremely bright

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dodgers Salaries

With the lineup and rotation pretty much set, I don't expect the Dodgers to do much more during the off season except a couple more spring training invitees. So here's the salary for the Dodger players in 2008 taken from ESPN.

PLAYERSALARY (US$)
1. Jason Schmidt15,703,946
2. Andruw Jones14,000,000
3. Rafael Furcal13,730,196
4. Jeff Kent9,814,117
5. Derek Lowe9,500,000
6. Nomar Garciaparra8,516,697
7. Brad Penny8,000,000
8. Esteban Loaiza7,500,000
9. Juan Pierre7,500,000
10. Takashi Saito1,000,000
11. Joe Beimel912,500
12. Gary Bennett850,000
13. Scott Proctor445,923
14. Yhency Brazoban395,000
15. Jason Repko395,000
16. Jonathan Broxton390,000
17. Russell Martin387,500
18. Andre Ethier387,500
19. Chad Billingsley384,500
20. Hong-Chih Kuo384,000
21. Matt Kemp383,000
22. Wilson Valdez381,000
Total Team Salary: 108,704,524

The Dodgers rank 6th in salary behind Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, White Sox and Angels. Taking a look at this figure, I simply have to smile about the future of the Dodgers. Obviously, the Dodgers overpaid for a lot of veterans who are past their prime, yet the future looks extremely bright. As the salaries of the veterans on top come off the books, the Dodgers will have plenty of money to improve the club through free agent signings. Furthermore, since the Dodgers farm system is so stacked with talent, we won't need to worry about not having money to lock out our young players because there will always be cheap talent coming through the farm. Through it all, all the bad signings have been negated, at least in terms of effect on the payroll, by the efficiencies of the Dodgers farm system. The future looks bright.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dodgers get Kuroda

Sorry this is one day late but I was in palm springs when this happened and had no access to a computer but the Dodgers signed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a 3 year $35.3 million deal. This is a great move by the Dodgers and completes the Dodgers goal of signing a middle of the order bat and gaining pitching depth. Overall I think this is a great move and read my assessment of Kuroda in my previous post.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hiroki Kuroda leaning toward the Dodgers

Tony Jackson reports that Kuroda is leaning towards coming to pitch for LA and the decision could come very soon. Apparently, Kuroda might choose the Dodgers over the Mariners (the other contender for him) simply because of his close relationship with All Start closer Takashi Saito. The Dodgers' offer is believed to be around 3 years for $30 million a year. Personally, I have mixed feelings toward this deal. He had a great deal last year in Japan with a 13-6 record and a 1.85 era but that is in Japan. The Japanese baseball league is judged relatively in terms of talent to be somewhere in between the Majors and AAA.

From the things I have read on Kuroda, he essentially has three decent pitches but his strike out per 9 innings rate cause an alarm. In his career he only averages a k/9 ratio of a little over 6;if he can't fool the Japanese hitters, I don't think he can fool the American hitters. Of course there are exceptions to this rule especially in Saito but it's highly unlikely that the Dodgers can get two Saito type players who are better in the US than in Japan. Furthermore, his career era of 3.69 is simply not impressive. At best, I see Kuroda as a 3rd or 4th pitcher in a rotation in the majors and at worse I see him as a Kaz Ishii type pitcher who starts off great and ends up horrible. Furthermore he is 33 years old so he is past his prime and should be in decline in the next few years. With this assessment there is definitely a decent amount of risk in signing Kuroda especially to a three year deal. Yet, there is a risk to every deal a GM has to make.

With all the negatives said, I feel that this deal does have many positives in it. First of all, he's simply the best pitcher on the market right now. Although he doesn't have a proven track record in the majors, the fact that he has the ability to be a decent to above average pitcher already makes him stand out in this thin market for players. The only other player who is still on the market with a lot of potential is Colon but the injury risk with him is simply too high (I still think that the Dodgers should have signed Wolf especially since he has my first name :D). Secondly, the fact that he's not a power pitcher should help him as he ages especially since pitchers tend to pitch slower with age. All the scouting reports of him reports that he has great command and command simply does not go away with age or with the country your pitching in. Thirdly, he's a fierce competitor and I bet that he is currently preparing himself physically and mentally for facing tougher opposition. I mean, which competitor wants to reach the end of his career knowing that he wasn't good enough to compete with the best. I know that I wouldn't want to know that. Lastly, the Dodgers have a relatively successful track record with asian players: Nomo, Park, Saito and even Kuo who provided some key victories. I have complete faith in the Dodgers scouts in the Asian market.

To conclude, I feel that this is the best move that the Dodgers could make in this market without giving up any of their young talent. Furthermore, if they could add Kuroda, then I wouldn't have to worry everyday about Colletti trading the future for another pitcher. In addition, Kuroda definitely solidifies a Dodger rotation of Penny, Lowe, Billingsley, Schmidt, and Loaiza. His Presence would solidify the rotation and increase the Dodgers chances of winning the National League West.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dodgers Sign Jones

The Dodgers sign Jones for 2 years $36.2 million. I like the deal. Read more of my assessment of Jones in my previous post.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Jones to the Dodgers? Possibility getting higher

Apparently, the Andruw Jones to the Dodgers idea has been warming recently though nothing is expected by the end of the Winter Meetings. As late as yesterday, Colletti has said that the asking price for the top tier center fielders Jones and Rowand are too high yet there apparently has been a change of heart. Whether that's because of the Dodgers warming up to the idea of giving Jones 3 years or simply because Jones finally realizing he is not going to get what he is demanding, I don't know. But I'm going to assess the situation of this possible deal.

Personally, I like the idea of adding Andruw Jones for 3 years probably around $55 million simply because he provides the big bat that the Dodgers need in the middle of their lineup. Additionally, the fact that he is the best remaining free agent allows the Dodgers to fill a hole without mortgaging the future like what the Dodgers would have had to do if it traded for Cabrera or attempt to trade for Santana, Bedard, or Haren. This allows the Dodgers to have a potential lineup next year of:

Furcal SS
Pierre LF
Loney 1B
Jones CF
Kent RF
Kemp 2B
Martin C
LaRoach/Garciaparra 3B
Pitcher

This lineup would greatly improve last year's lineup simply because of the maturation of the young players, the health of Furcal and the addition of a power hitter. The only person who I can see produce less than last year is Kent and we can always move Kemp into the 5th spot if he continues to develop at the pace that he is developing. Furthermore, the addition of a 10 time gold glove Center Fielder would greatly improve the outfield defense of the Dodgers. Pierre would not have a reason not to move to left field because he would just be stepping aside for the future hall of fame center fielder. Furthermore, opposing teams cannot simply run on the Dodgers outfield every time they hit something into the outfield because both Jones and Kemp have great arms. So in general, the addition of Jones would greatly improve the Dodgers team.

Yet, it does creates the problem of where is the Dodgers going to do with Ethier. Personally I like Ethier alot because I feel he provides consistency and has the potential to be a cheap man version of Luis Gonzales in his prime. I think that Ethier has the ability to hit 20 homeruns with 40 doubles in a season and I simply can't see the Dodgers using him off the bench. If the Dodgers actually do sign Jones, I wouldn't be surprised to see Colletti move Ethier for either a minor league prospect or pitching (as he always say, you can never have enough pitching). In final assessment, the addition of Jones would probably help the Dodgers win 5-7 more games with his offense and his defense. If he can return to his previous form and shake off his off year (the LA times article states that he played with a hyper extended elbow), then the amount the Dodgers paid him might even look like a bargain. Additionally, if Jones could return to form, then the Dodgers would have added a bona fide power hitter without giving up any of its farm system. This is getting more and more rare in today's market simply because teams lock up any superstar talent to long term deals. In conclusion, I like the idea of this deal and feel that Ned should definitely pull it off.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Blockbuster Trade! Tigers get Cabrera and Willis

The Detroit Tigers has acquired Cabrera and Willis in a 8 player blockbuster deal with the Florida Marlins. The Marlins will receive Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo, Burke Badenhop, Eulogio de la Cruz, and Dallas Trahern. The Tigers obviously gave up a lot in this trade especially in Maybin and Miller who both have potential to be all stars. Additionally, de la Cruz was reported to hit 100 mph on the radar gun and Rabelo played in 51 games in the majors last year. In total, the Tigers trade 4 out of their top 10 prospects according to the preliminary rankings at Baseball America. Although they gave up alot, the Tigers obviously got a lot in return in Cabrera and Willis.

With Cabrera, the Tigers now have a lineup that can potentially match up to the firepower filled lineup of the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Tigers has a murderers row of Sheffield, Ordonez and Cabrera. Each one of these guys would be batting cleanup on any other club. Furthermore, this frees up Brandon Inge for a super utility guy status or a trade bait. With the addition of Willis, the Tigers now have one of the best rotations in all of baseball with a delicate mix of 3 left handers and 2 right handers. The three left handers are Willis, Rogers and Nate Robertson while the right handers are Verlander and Bonderman. Willis, Verlander and Bonderman all have cy young potential while Robertson and Rogers will make great number 4 and 5 starters in the Tigers rotation. The best part of this trade is that both Cabrera and Willis don't hit free agency until the end of the 2009 season which makes them extremely affordable for the next two years. Generally, I feel the Tigers won this trade because it made them an instant World Series contender.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Wolf and Santana! Needs and Mistakes!

Randy Wolf reached a one year deal with the Padres this weekend. This deal is believed to be a heavily incentive based deal. Wolf also received interest from the Phillies and Astros with the Phillies being Wolf's biggest suitor. Yet, Wolf opted to stay on the West Coast to stay with his family. What I don't understand is why the Dodgers did not try to sign Randy Wolf. Granted that the Dodgers signed him last year and he ended up injured, but Wolf could be the biggest bargain of the off season. As every Dodger fan saw last year, when Wolf is healthy, he has lights out stuff. He definitely still has a above average curve-ball and a good fast ball. Furthermore, Wolf posted a 8.24 k/9 ratio last year. That fact shows that he is still fooling batters and is able to get out of jams. The fact that Wolf opted to stay close to his family shows the relative willingness for him to resign with the Dodgers as his family lives in Los Angeles. This is one gamble that I would have liked to see Ned take and I'm rather disappointed that Ned did even try to resign Wolf. The fact of the matter is that our current rotation consists of Penny, Lowe, Billingsley, Schmidt, and Loaiza with both Schmidt and Loaiza coming off a season filled with injures. Essentially, the Dodgers only have three reliable starters going into next year with temporary stop gaps in Houlton, Erickson and Kuo. Honestly, I really don't see the risk in signing Wolf. LA is not a small market city so the Dodgers can definitely afford to take a gamble. In addition, if Wolf remains healthy, then he would become a great bargain. For these reasons, I feel the Dodgers definitely missed out on an opportunity to upgrade their team.

In regards to the Santana situation, it looks like the Yankees and Red Sox are having a bidding war. Now that the Red Sox are willing to part with center field prodigy Ellsbury, I find the situation to be extremely interesting. Now, the Twins get to choose a deal between a center piece of Ellsbury or Hughes. Personally, I see the Twins to take Ellsbury over Hughes because the Twins are loaded with pitching prospects but they need hitters in their lineup, especially with the departure of Hunter. Yet, the rest of the package between the two clubs falls in the Yankees favor. By including Hughes and Melky Cabrera, the Yankees are putting out two bona fide blue chip prospects out there. Furthermore, the Twins can control both of them for cheaper and longer than a combo of Ellsbury and Coco Crisp. I have no doubt that both Ellsbury and Hughes are going to be superstars in this league as long as they stay healthy, yet if the twins opt for Ellsbury, the situation might get interesting.

If the Twins inform the Yankees that they have a X amount of time to up their offer to prevent the Twins agreeing to the Red Sox offer, then I feel that the Twins can get a significantly better 3rd prospect from the Yankees. Personally, I feel that the Yankees have to do anything they can to beat the Red Sox in the deal for Santana. Imagine the Red Sox having a rotation of: Santana, Beckett, Schilling, Dice-K, Buchholz and Lester as the 6th man in case of an injury. In that rotation there's 2 out of the top 5 pitchers in the League right now in Santana and Beckett, with another former Cy-Young winner, one World Baseball Classic MVP and one 23 year old stud who recently pitched a no hitter. That's five potential number one pitchers right there. Furthermore, the Red Sox will continue to have strong rotations in the future with Santana, beckett, Dice-K, Buchholz and Lester. Personally, I don't see the Yankees ever matching up to that rotation.

If the Yankees do not get Santana, they will have to rely on a rotation of Wang, Hughes, Joba, Kennedy and Pettite (assuming that he comes back). In that rotation, your relying on three youngsters who have not pitched a whole season. Wang is an above average starter yet he does not have ace stuff. His win total is largely due to the largest run support margin. Furthermore, his strike out to walk ratio is extremely low and that shows that he's been getting awfully lucky with where the balls are hit. In fact, I expect him to hit a reality check and win less than 15 games next year. I feel that the Yankees need to get Santana especially if they want to do anything in the post season. Even with Pettite, the Yankees will have no one who they can rely on in a game 7 situation. For these reasons, the Yankees need Santana and should do whatever it takes to get him.

Don't be surprised to see the Yankees up the package because they will need to if they expect to be competitive in the playoffs next year.