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Offseason Priorities
2003-09-30 08:58
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Dodger 2003 OPS by Batting Slot (with League Rank)
No. 1 batters: .622 (16th)
No. 2 batters: .609 (16th)
No. 3 batters: .804 (12th)
No. 4 batters: .757 (16th)
No. 5 batters: .785 (10th)
No. 6 batters: .645 (16th)
No. 7 batters: .731 (7th)
No. 8 batters: .633 (13th)
No. 9 batters: .416 (15th)

Dodger 2003 OPS by Position (with League Rank)
Pitchers: .305 (11th)
Catchers: .732 (8th)
First basemen: .710 (15th)
Second basemen: .703 (13th)
Third basemen: .702 (12th)
Shortstops: .576 (16th)
Left fielders: .646 (16th)
Center fielders: .682 (14th)
Right fielders: .809 (9th)

If you are last in the league in offensive production at two positions, and if one of those positions provides great defensive value, then you need to priortize finding someone for the other position.

Ceasr Izturis is an offensive liability - perhaps so big an offensive liability that his outstanding defense cannot compensate. But before the Dodgers find a new shortstop, they had first better find a good-hitting left fielder (one that could legitimately bat fourth in the lineup would be nice).

And if Shawn Green is moving to first base, then the team's next mission is to find a good-hitting right fielder.

And unless those two new outfielders are poor defensive players, the Dodgers' third priority should be to find a better-hitting center fielder.

Dave Roberts? He had an OPS of .638 last season. Factor in his 40 stolen bases and 14 caught stealing, and you would add 26 total bases to his offense, giving him an OPS of .704. Not enough. To put it in perspective, Roberts (.248 EQA) had a poorer season than Tom Goodwin (.256 EQA).

Jolbert Cabrera? He had a good season for the Dodgers, but his OPS in part-time duty was .775. He was hit by 10 pitches, but walked 17 times all year. Dave Roberts and Jolbert Cabrera would give you a great bench.

Start in the outfield with some real solutions. Then, and only then, try to improve the infield, whose defense at least can help the pitching staff maintain its excellence.

And by the way, Paul Lo Duca should stay at catcher. The Dodgers just need to show more confidence in their backup catchers, who also hit adequately for the position.

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