It’s almost Thanksgiving and that means baseball fans everywhere are burning up the blogosphere with their analysis, predictions, and suggestions on the strategy their favorite team should employ this offseason as the Hot Stove starts to seriously heat up. We Dodger Fans are certainly not averse to giving our Über-Geek front office a generous helping of advice this holiday season, in fact, they need all the help they can get. Why else would Stan Kasten hire every unemployed former GM in the Baseball Universe? Input, baby! The Dodgers value input! Never let it be said that we here at Dodgers Bluepen are Scrooge-like about sharing our thoughts and desires. So, Andrew, Farhan and company, are you listening? Here’s our 2.27 cents worth (sorry, we felt a hike in costs was warranted due to the quality of the product we bring to the table, thanks for understanding.)
First, let’s take stock of our organization and try to determine what logical and prudent forward direction we should take.
All in all, the franchise is in good health. Four straight NL West Division titles. The farm system is strong with many soon-to-be major leaguers looking very good, in fact, several of them are being openly coveted by other teams. We have the Best Pitcher On The Planet in Clayton Kershaw. We have the Rookie Of The Year (and MVP candidate for the next ten years) in shortstop, Corey Seager. We have a nice mix of young players with great upside and solid, and still productive, veterans balancing the roster. We have the NL’s Manager Of The Year (Dave Roberts) and an elite coaching staff. We also have a glut of outfielders best suited for platooning and a bench that carried the team through times of great duress when the DL had more names on it than Pacoima’s phone book. Our bullpen was, overall, the best in the league.
But, and it’s a bigger “but” than J-Lo’s, despite this wealth of talent and resources, the Dodgers have still not appeared in a World Series since 1988. The Fans want a World Series. We expect a World Series. Every year! Failure to provide one will be considered a major flop, and Hollywood doesn’t like flops. So, here’s what we need to do …
Retain (or replace) key free agents. We’re talking about Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner. It is our humble opinion here at the Bluepen that both of these players need to be re-signed. Now, this is easy for us to say because we don’t control the organization’s purse strings. No, we just provide the contents of the purse. You guys (the Dodger organization) can talk all you want about keeping payroll under $200M, that’s fine, we want the team to be healthy fiscally. But, it’s our money you’re playing with and it’s our money that’s made you one of the most valuable franchises in the world of sports, so your phony tears of impoverishment aren’t really resonating with us – especially after you’ve announced a hike in ticket and parking prices (sorry, my inner-Bernie Sanders felt the need to rant a bit). So, for the purposes of this exercise, a few million here or there isn’t a major concern. This is particularly true when you consider the cost of replacing these players. What is a top tier closer going to cost in today’s market? Four to five years pushing $90-100M? If you’re going to pay somebody big-time closer cheese, why not Kenley? He’s already here, he’s a fan favorite and he was an absolute stud in the postseason. Show him the money! The same argument applies to J.T. as well. Who’s available that’s better? Sure, you could trade for a Frazier or Longoria, but it’s going to cost you an Urias, DeLeon, Bellinger and/or Verdugo and is it really an upgrade? Yeah, yeah, Turner isn’t a kid, but he’s far from done, and I’m going to add the Secret Word “intangibles” to my description of our hairy, red third baseman. He fits in that clubhouse, just ask Doc. We love Justin Turner … bring him back. Besides, if you are going to spend premium assets in the trade market, spend them to add, not replace, pieces.
Upgrade and bolster Starting Rotation:
Here is an area where the Dodgers can flex their muscles and use their resources in a way other teams can’t. Kersh needs some help. The bullpen can only be better if the starting pitching improves and takes their share of innings back. The Cubs got past us because their starting pitching was better rested and more comfortable in their role. Injuries have taken their toll but, be honest, some gambles were lost on oft-injured arms that put a strain on the organization’s pitching depth. The good news is that, for the most part, the pitchers that provided that depth performed better than anyone had a right to expect. Now we know Stripling, Urias, Maeda, DeLeon and the rest are reliable major league hurlers. That’s good. But, we would all feel better if we had that top-of-the-rotation punch we used to have with Greinke back in the day
So, what to do? If I were King Of The Forest, I would enter the trade market with my sights set on Chris Sale. I would offer the ChiSox Jose DeLeon, Willie Calhoun and Yasiel Puig for Sale. Or, some combination thereof. No good? How about Verdugo instead of Calhoun? Well, you see what I’m getting at … trade a combination of prospects (that doesn’t include Urias) to get an ace for the number two spot in the rotation.
Better yet, how about taking Zach Greinke off Arizona’s hands? If it’s just money and not premier talent used to get him back, why not? While you’re at it, go ahead and bring Rich Hill back. If I’m allowed to wander into Fantasy Land why not bring back Greinke or Hill and trade for Sale? Nuts, am I? How would you feel meeting Chicago in the NLCS with a rotation of Kershaw/Sale/Hill or Greinke/Urias/Maeda? Like your chances? Hey, it’s only money and you’d be surprised how nice and sweet Dodger fans can be after a couple of World Series Championships. Heck, we won’t even complain if ticket prices go up and we can’t get the games on TV. Come on, you guys owe us!
Misc. and Errata:
In regard to trades, the only “untouchables” in the organization are, of course, Clayton Kershaw and Corey Seager. Even if we’re talking Mike Trout.
Get better against left-handed pitching. Consider signing Cespedes. Come on, he’s already the player we hoped Puig would be. Use Yasiel as trade bait … he’d be valuable as a throw-in to get a Sale or Archer. Just think about it.
Give Toles (or a healthy Trayce Thompson) the LF job. Keep Ethier as an elder statesman and frequent OF fill-in. Yes, he’s an expensive bench player, but it is what it is.
Without breaking the bank, see if it’s possible to land an established second baseman. I’d be really cool with Dozier. Wouldn’t mind Kinsler either. If that’s not feasible, how far away is Calhoun? Can Barnes do the job? We’d be willing to bet Chase could be brought back even with minimal playing time being promised. Landing a solid 2B would be nice. We’re the Dodgers. We should be able to do this.
Oh, and Joe Blanton earned another year. Sure, The Grand Slam was a horror, but honestly, giving up a single would have been just as bad.
Well, guys, that’s a rough take on the offseason from us. We are completely aware that it is very early in the process and the situation is fluid, but ultimately, we’re close enough to smell The Promised Land. Now, we want some of that Milk and Honey they’re having in Wrigleyville right now. Let’s make it so.