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

Dodgers' early moves eye-opening

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.

 
 
 
 
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