Thursday, November 12, 2009
Blogging the Offseason is a 30 team series in which I ask a blogging representative from each MLB team a series of ten questions about their desires and thoughts surrounding the offseason. Check out all of them here.
Today's NL team is the Los Angeles Dodgers and our guest is MSTI from the Dodgers Blog, Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness.
1. In all likelihood Manny is going to pick up his player option, if it was a mutual option do you think the Dodgers would pick it up or do you think they prefer him out?
In this case, it's important to differentiate between "the Dodgers" and "Dodger fans". The team would probably have loved to have Manny opt out, because then they'd be off the hook for his salary (even though it's spread out over the next few years) and probably wouldn't reinvest it, preferring to just play Juan Pierre since they're already paying him. That, of course, would be the worst possible situation for the fans, because even in Manny's worst moments, he's still a hundred times the player Pierre could ever imagine being.
2. Both the O-Dog and Tubby Belliard are free agents this offseason. Whom is your starting second baseman in 2010?
Tough question. Hudson's certainly not coming back, since he's looking for a multi-year deal and was stung by being benched in the playoffs. Belliard may be back, but he's not a full-time solution. Unfortunately, the Dodgers traded the obvious answer, Tony Abreu (.999 OPS as a 24-year-old in AAA this year) to Arizona for six relatively meaningless starts worth of Jon Garland.
The only remaining in-house candidate is Blake DeWitt, who was actually the starting 2B in the 2008 playoffs. But he's a "tweener" - an excellent defensive 3B who may not have the bat for the hot corner, and while the bat may play at the keystone, his glove probably won't. With the Dodgers unlikely to spend big money on a Dan Uggla type, you probably won't be seeing a major splash here. If not DeWitt, they'll either make a low-profile trade (Alberto Callaspo from KC has been rumored), or possibly try to move Pierre in a "my problem for yours" deal.
3. What the heck is going on with your Owner and his wife? Do you think this creates any significant issues this offseason?
When TMZ.com is as much of a go-to for Dodger news as ESPN, then you know you've got a big problem. The team insists that this won't affect day-to-day operations, but it's hard to see how this won't impact what they can do on the free agent market. We all saw what happened in San Diego when John Moores was forced to sell the team thanks to California's shared property law, and the fear is that the same could happen to the Dodgers. Not that there's any fear over the McCourts having to sell; Dodger fans would love that. But this couldn't have come at a worse time, because the young core of the Dodgers - off two straight NLCS appearances - are all arbitration-elgible. If the team can't spend money, then the worst nightmares of Dodger fans about seeing their young, talented players being sold off might come to fruition. On top of that, if this gets as ugly as it's already sounding, then the Dodgers are going to be a national embarrassment. So yes, there might be a few "significant issues" as a result of this disaster.
4. It's been rumored that Donny Baseball will takeover the Dodgers when Joe Torre packs it in. A) What do you think about this? and B) Do you think Torre is done after the 2010 season?
It's hard to predict what type of manager Don Mattingly would be, because he's never done it anywhere previously. That said, he was a finalist for the Yankee job that went to Joe Girardi (which Mattingly might have had if family issues hadn't forced his withdrawal), interviewed with Cleveland this offseason, and turned down an interview with Washington. So clearly, other teams think he makes for an intriguing managerial candidate as well, not just the Dodgers. As for Torre, he's said that he'll step down, but he's also left the door open more than a crack to change his mind. It probably depends in large part on how the ownership situation has played out by then; he likely wouldn't return to a team that he didn't feel was trying its best to win.
5. Both Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla have 10+ Million dollar options, do you think the team picks up either? Do you think either winds up on the team next year?
"No" and "Hell, no" in that order. Neither is worth anywhere near that much, and especially not to a team that's made their cashflow problems clear. Garland in particular is likely to look for a multiyear deal, and with the weak starting pitching market he's likely to get it somewhere. Padilla was surprisingly effective, but with his past and bizarre "accidental shooting" situation in Central America last week, he's unlikely to get a major commitment from anyway. If he's willing to settle for a one-year deal at just a few million dollars, the Dodgers would probably welcome him back.
6. It seems like the Dodgers entire roster is Arbitration Eligible, will they try to sign any to long term deals? If so whom?
This is another issue that the ownership situation is throwing into turmoil. You'd think that guys like Matt Kemp, Jonathan Broxton, Chad Billingsley, and Andre Ethier would be perfect candidates to sign long-term, buying out arbitration and free-agent years. Going year-to-year with those guys is going to kill you and ruin any cost certainty in your budget. But with the questions about ownership and finances, it remains to be seen how badly Ned Colletti's hands are tied here. The worst fear is that the young core gets broken up due to the divorce mess.
7. Which free agents do you think the Dodgers will target this offseason?
Everything keeps coming back to the divorce, unfortunately, so no big names. Other than second base, the lineup is basically set anyway, but they'll need to add at least one starting pitcher. With the market so barren, a guy like John Lackey - who's a nice pitcher, but no "ace" - might get $100m, which is far out of the Dodgers' range. No, what the Dodgers will do is similar to what they did last year, which is try to buy low on guys with question marks. It worked out with Randy Wolf and Orlando Hudson, so I fully expect to see them take a shot at one of the talented pitchers who can't stay healthy, like Erik Bedard or Rich Harden. They'll also need to bolster the bench with some power, so perhaps a one year deal for someone like Troy Glaus, coming off a lost season, and possibly a second baseman if they don't go with DeWitt.
8. Which Dodger prospect are you most looking forward to in 2010?
Most of the Dodger "prospects" have graduated to the big team - Clayton Kershaw, Kemp, etc. - and the next wave of guys like Devaris Gordon and Ethan Martin are at least a year or two away. That said, there's room on the pitching staff for young players to make a splash, and I'd like to see what Scott Elbert can do. Though a starter in the minors, he's made spot appearances in the MLB bullpen in each of the last two seasons, though not enough to exhaust his rookie eligibility. He's been prone to the longball in his short time up, but he's still struck out 10.2 per 9 innings, so there's real talent there. He'll either get a crack at the last spot in the rotation in 2010 or serve as a power lefty out of the pen.
9. I'm giving you the option to cut players without any salary repercussions, which Dodgers do you part way with?
This is a question so easy that it's about on the level of "do you prefer to be on fire, or to not be on fire?" Juan Pierre is the only possible answer to that question. Part of that is the fact that with the finally expired contract of the corpse of Jason Schmidt, Pierre is the only big-salaried player who's not pulling his weight. Unless you're the Yankees, you just can't be paying a backup outfielder $9m per year, and Pierre's not even a great fit for the job. Sure, he can run, and that's well and good. It's just that his noodle arm doesn't make him an ideal defensive replacement for Manny, and his complete lack of power hinders pinch-hitting opportunities in big spots. Now, tell me how I can go about making this happen, please.
10. Final Question, you've got a crystal ball, the Dodgers win the World Series in _______.
The fan in me says "2011", hoping that Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball, Matt Kemp is a megastar behind only Albert Pujols, and that Chad Billingsley's turned it around to form a solid 1-2 punch with Kershaw. The skeptic in me says "not any time soon", because if the Dodgers can't pay to keep their talented young players or bring in any talent to support them, then they're not going to be able to take that next step any time soon.