Blog Entry

Dodgers' early moves eye-opening

Posted on: November 30, 2010 2:56 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2010 12:07 pm

Come on now, the week's most intriguing issue isn't what the scales said when new Dodger Juan Uribe stepped on them during his physical examination Tuesday.

It's what the scale says when the Dodgers plop their 2011 payroll on top of it.

Maybe Uribe's new three-year, $21 million deal in Los Angeles will be looking a little ragged in 2013. Who knows, it might not look so great by the end of 2011. He's 31, seems like 36, and do you really think he can pop 24 homers in a summer again as he did in 2010?

But while the addition of Uribe provides plenty of cordwood for Hot Stove League debate, the fact that the Dodgers now have signed four significant free agents and we're not even to the Winter Meetings yet is the strongest signal yet that perhaps the worst of the Great McCourt Divorce Trial is starting to move through.

In handing left-hander Ted Lilly $33 million, right-hander Hiroki Kuroda $12 million, right-hander Jon Garland $5 million and now Uribe $21 million, the Dodgers have shelled out some $71 million during the offseason's first month.

You can argue that there is nary an impact player like a Cliff Lee or a Carl Crawford among them.

But neither, now, is there a Charlie Haeger in the projected mix for 2011.

The Dodgers are back in the game. Nobody's predicting a division title here but, already, the rotation is improved over that wing and a prayer they trotted out in 2010. Vicente Padilla as opening day starter was the organization's most embarrassing moment since the 1986 club filmed The Baseball Boogie music video.

In Garland and Lilly, general manager Ned Colletti is taking a smart, calculated gamble with veterans who are reliable and will handle a heavy innings-pitched workload. No, they don't completely close the gap with the world champion Giants of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. But more threadbare clubs like the Padres shouldn't run circles around them again.

Meanwhile, Uribe at second base at least has a better chance for a happy ending than Uribe at shortstop. No, that pear-shaped body isn't prototypical for a middle infield position. But a couple of things about Uribe:

-- He's a winner. He played pivotal roles on two World Series champion teams, the '05 White Sox and last year's Giants. When the stakes are high, he's come up big. He had nine RBIs in 14 post-season games last month.

-- He's beloved in the clubhouse. The Giants thought the world of him. On a Dodgers club that had clubhouse issues before Colletti arrived (Milton Bradley) and with a roster of younger players that still don't all get it (Matt Kemp), Uribe will add more than, say Manny Ramirez (no matter how the Dodgers spun his influence in the early days).

Again, this isn't to make Uribe out to be more than he is, which also is a man who batted .248 last season, owns a career on-base percentage of .300 and rarely works the count.

Truth be told, given where the Giants are and where the Dodgers are, this move is excellent for San Francisco, too. The Giants, who already specialize in ancient middle infielders (Omar Vizquel, Edgar Renteria), were smart not to over-extend with Uribe.

But for a Dodgers team that many figured would be drowning in the McCourt divorce saga for the next several years, the four moves so far at least represent hope that the clouds will part sooner rather than later.

And those don't even count what could be Colletti's best stroke of the winter, bringing back Dodgers legend Davey Lopes to coach first base. Lopes, a free agent after a dispute with the Phillies over his value, is the sharpest baserunning coach in the game.

That, and the possibility that maybe he can reach the still-maturing Kemp, make this way more than your average coach hire.

The Dodgers still have plenty to do and will be in the market for a catcher if they non-tender Russell Martin on Thursday (and the catching market is weaker than month-old iced tea).

But at the very least, a fourth-place club that finished 80-82 in 2010 has sprung out of the blocks quickly toward 2011. It's a start.


Since: Apr 18, 2008
Posted on: December 2, 2010 4:32 pm

Dodgers' early moves eye-opening

That's 21M over 3 years or 7M a year.  That doesn't look nearly as bad.

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: December 2, 2010 2:08 am

Dodgers' early moves eye-opening

Well, I didn't mean to imply that any minor league system has a lineup full of Hall of Famers. Maybe a few all-conference first-stringers.

But it appears I overstated my case in a bid to make a point. The point I wanted to make and will clarify is that for $21 million, the Dodgers could have made far more long-term beneficial investments in player personnel than they did by signing Uribe, who can't give them that dollar value, no matter if he has a career year in 2011. The 21 million could have been better invested in developing minor-league talent that will pay dividends in the future, if not become useful as trading chips.

I didn't want to open a can of worms and say that the "next Maury Wills" was in camp. That was called hyperbole.
Spending $21 million on one journeyman infielder is foolhardy. I like Uribe. He's a gutsy, good ballplayer. That fwiw.

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: December 1, 2010 4:15 pm

Dodgers' early moves eye-opening

"When did LA realize they really needed a shortstop?"

Unless they've seen enough of Dee Gordon at Double-A to think he's not the tough out Furcal is (despite his contract and barking vertabrae), and all of Gordon's speed will be vapor to the team right now. I haven't seen Gordon, but he hit over .300 till his first year in AA.

Since: Jan 18, 2007
Posted on: December 1, 2010 3:18 pm

Dodgers' early moves eye-opening

Dodger Trend is to sign a player past his prime (i.e Fred McGriff, Andrew Jones, Manny Ramirez, Jason Schmidt)!

It is not unusual for the Dodgers to did this every year. Signing Uribe? Really? They should go out and get Crawford to play center field, moving Kemp to left, keeping Either in right, and Gibbons as back up. The Dodgers do not need a 2B. How about replacing Blake with some power, like Evan Longoria, who is young and has a lot of years left in the tank. I hope they do not bring Beltre back, because that is their trend. As much as I hate to say it, let Martin go, sign Barajas as a back up to Ellis who had a decent year.

As far as the pitching goes, Garland is a good signing, but should have been done last year, instead of Padilla. They need an ACE that will lead them to the promise land. Hopefully, get someone to fill in during mid season. The rotation is great: Kershaw, Garland, Kuroda, Lilly, and Billingsley. Let Kuo be the closer, with Broxton as set up. I just saw to many big games blown by Broxton including the 2009 NLCS homerun given up to Shane Victorino at Dodger Stadium.


Frustrated Dodgers Fan.

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: December 1, 2010 2:30 pm

Dodgers' early moves eye-opening

How about getting a big bat at 1B, 3B, or LF?  

They're looking, but who is available?  Dunn can hit but looking for major dollars and is a horrendus liability defensively at 1B.  Crawford would be nice in LF I admit but not huge HR numbers and, again, not exactly cheap but I'd do it if I were LA.  3B -- Beltre is available but I point out, other than is contract year in LA and last season, rather pedestrian HR and average numbers (although he would be an upgrade over Blake) and, again, likely seeking a contract that well exceeds his actual value.  Don't get me wrong, I want a big bat at one or more of these positions too -- the question is at what cost for how many years -- the Dodgers have been burned by a lot of long-term and big name free agent deals (Shawn Green, Kevin Brown, Jason Schmidt, Darren Driefort, Darryle Strawberry, Eric Davis, Andruw Jones, Manny's second contract, Gary Sheffield, Milton Bradley, etc) and are understandably nervous about committing hundreds of millions on these type contracts rather than trying to develop players internally ala (Kemp, Loney, Ethier --although he was a trade aquisition, he was young and cheap).

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: December 1, 2010 2:21 pm

Dodgers' early moves eye-opening

A year or two away? No, I don't have to figure that at all. When did LA realize they really needed a shortstop

Not a dispute John, just a good natured difference of opinion. I understand your position but I disagree in some respects. First, Uribe was signed primarily to play 2B not SS, although he is capable of being the RESERVE SS if Furcal gets hurt or needs a day off.  Second, very few new signees in the minors are ready, without playing in the minors, to be every day players at the major league level, especially to play at the level of Maury Wills.  As for 2B, the Dodgers have lots of them in the minors and if they thought any of them were ready to play every day in the majors at a level near or better than Uribe, then I agree...let the youngster play for less money.  Obviously the Dodgers are not convinced that any of their minor league 2B are major league ready yet -- its not because they have not been looking, nobody drafts players thinking "gee, this guy will never be a major league player" but it is, IMO, a little oversimplistic to say "just go sign a bunch of minor league infielders and sort through them until you find the next Maury Wills".  How many years has it been that the Dodgers, and really every other team in baseball, has been looking for the "next Maury Wills", "the next Sandy Koufax", or the "next (insert name of all time great player here)".  Sign Cliff Lee?  Why?  Just call up a minor leaguer to be the next great starting pitcher at a tenth of the cost. Its just not that easy to find great players.  Think about how many players get drafted every year, how few of them make it to the majors and how few of them become starters, much less all-time greats like Maury Wills.

Ideally, yes, fill all of your positions of need witht the next great whoever --- don't sign Lilly, call up the next Koufax; don't sign Garland, call up the next Don Drysdale; don't sign an established catcher, call up the next Yogi Berra.  Again, not for lack of trying, but sometimes you do have to "patch the seams" -- EVERY team does it EVERY year, there is not a single team in MLB that has an all-star caliber player at every position, not even close---that is why guys like Uribe are starting in the majors every year for every team.  This is why trades happen, this is why free agents get signed, you cannot always replace right away from within the organization.

Do I want the Dodgers to have the next Maury Wills at 2B next year?  Of course.  Does he exist in the Dodgers' farm system ready to play every day at the major league level?  Unfortunately,  I don't think so.  Given that, for now, I think the Uribe signing is good -- doesn't mean if I am Ned Colletti I am not looking for a young, future star at 2B.

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: December 1, 2010 12:45 pm

Dodgers' early moves eye-opening

If the Dodgers do suddenly find "another Maury Wills" in their farm system you have to figure he's a year or two away at least and Uribe is not a bad short term fill-in.

I am not inclined to carry on a long-term dispute over this but a short-term fill-in is what turns good teams into second-division bottom feeders. You build a real team from the ground up.  And if you don't have a clue about who's in the farm system who can play SS by now, then you spent money in the wrong place. You should be hiring scouts and coaches.

A year or two away? No, I don't have to figure that at all. When did LA realize they really needed a shortstop? If your contention is that the alternative to Uribe was to go out and start looking for the next Wills, I say, you should already have identified that kid and 4 more just like him. That kid should at least be in Double-A by now. You get Uribe to sit on the bench and play 4 games out of 16.

This is throwing bad money after worse money, and the Dodgers don't get better by patching the seams with past-prime veterans.

Very bad strategy for a team that is only a year away from the NL playoffs.

Or you could bring back Manny.

Since: Nov 26, 2007
Posted on: December 1, 2010 12:21 pm

Dodgers' early moves eye-opening

These moves are eye-opening to a larger problem that McCourt is going to continue to put a very sub-par product out on the field until he is forced to sell the team.  The guy is broke and looking for the cheapest way to appease the fan base while at the same time trying to fill the seats to clear the debts that he created by taking out loans against future ticket sales.  The guy has completely leveraged himself and the divorce will with any luck force him to sell this team.  Please type his name and divorce into any search engine and read about some of the findings that have been disclosed in the court documents or any Bill Plaschke article covering the divorce.  It's disgusting!
I do feel bad for Ned Colletti because this guy has to start each and every offseason by grabbing a list of the current free agents and then crossing off the first 50 guys because they are well out of there price range.  The Dodgers just signed an innings eater...code for he might not be good but hey at least he won't be injured.  Uribe is a career .256 that has only twice played 150 games or more in a given season.  Read between the lines here we increased our power at a position like 2B.  This means you get power for cheap.  How about getting a big bat at 1B, 3B, or LF?  Well that will not happen because it will cost to much money.  James Loney has about as much power as Will Venable but while he is still cheap he will continue to be the everyday Dodger 1B. Blake at 3B hit .248 last year and only has 20 HR potential.  Why does he still have a job?  
I will agree that the Davey Lopes signing is great for the organization.  He should immediately help Kemp who is oblivious on the base paths and better utilize the speed that is on that team.
However, last I checked Los Angeles was a Major Market and yet we are run like the Kansas City Royals.  It is a complete joke!  Scott Miller keep feeding into this notion that the Dodgers are spending big money.

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: December 1, 2010 12:16 pm

Dodgers' early moves eye-opening

This particular signing makes no sense whatsoever. Not for this much money.
You could sign 20 minor league infielders for this price and sort them out until you find another Maury Wills

Personally, I do not want my Dodgers to spend next year sorting through 20 minor league infielders hoping to find the next Maury Wills...that is what the minor leagues are for and it certainly did not work for the Dodgers last year with Belliard, Theriot, DeWitt, etc.  Uribe has a lifetime average of .256 and 19 HR per year and can play 2B, 3B and SS which gives LA a lot of infield flexibility for injuries/rest to Uribe, Blake (who is in the last year of his contract and the Dodgers want to transition to a part timer player if he stays past that) and Furcal if necessary, and he is only 31.  IMO, all of that for a relatively short, relatively small contract ($7mill per year is not huge money for average players in this day and age) is not a bad risk by the Dodgers, probably pretty smart.  If the Dodgers do suddenly find "another Maury Wills" in their farm system you have to figure he's a year or two away at least and Uribe is not a bad short term fill-in.

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: December 1, 2010 11:39 am

Dodgers' early moves eye-opening

Are you really calling the Rockies' contract to Tulo stupid? Do you watch baseball? Tulo is better in his prime right now than Jeter was in his; I know because I've seen both play.

So, is this an endorsement for the player, or for your insistence that you are qualified to write this comment?
I haven't found too many posters on who are legitimate evaluators of talent.
I do read a lot from homers, however.

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