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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
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9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
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12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Today Is the First Day of the Rest of Your Offseason (Or Maybe Tomorrow Is)
2009-01-01 06:44
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

To kick off the New Year, I went around the block and asked a few baseball-blogging comrades what they think the Dodgers should try to accomplish for the remainder of the offseason. None mentioned Claudio Vargas, but I present their opinions nonetheless.

Cliff Corcoran, Bronx Banter:

I would have urged the Dodgers not to re-sign Casey Blake or Rafael Furcal, but it's too late for that. I would urge them to bring back Derek Lowe, but it seems Lowe wants to return to the east coast. Their biggest need would seem to be another starting pitcher. A short incentive-laden deal for Ben Sheets could pay off big, but that risk is one the team still nursing Jason Schmidt might not be willing to take. On the opposite side of the risk/reward scale, Braden Looper could be a surprisingly solid bargain. Second to that, L.A. could use a legitimate backup catcher. Gregg Zaun and Javier Valentin are two that leap to mind.

The elephant in the room, of course, is Manny Ramirez. The Dodgers have been right to pursue him despite the fact that it would mean punting the second and final year of Andruw Jones' contract, but while Ramirez would be a boon to their offense, the Dodgers and their fans should not expect a repeat of his outburst over the final two months of 2008. Given their willingness to punt on Jones, the team should look elsewhere if its unable to land Ramirez, starting with Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell. A cheap, one-year deal for Jim Edmonds could be a budget-price alternative, as Edmonds could platoon with Jones in center while allowing Kemp to move back to right field where his 2008 splits suggest he's more comfortable.

David Pinto, Baseball Musings:

It strikes me that the Dodgers should be concentrating more on their starting pitching than their outfield. Kemp, Ethier, Jones and Pierre provide enough offense and defense that they should put their resources more into pitching. They've lost Penny and Lowe, and Schmidt isn't likely to contribute much. With the market for Lowe not that great, maybe they should try to resign him.

Rich Lederer, Baseball Analysts:

Signing Manny Ramirez should be priority No. 1. But, in defense of the Dodgers, management offered Manny a reasonable contract that apparently has fallen on deaf ears. Scott Boras may have overplayed his hand here, promising his client more years and money than what the market is willing to pay. The Dodgers have (rightfully) pulled their offer and are now reportedly pursuing other options (such as Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreu).

More than anything, I would remain committed to Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp while doing my best to move Andruw Jones and Juan Pierre (even if it means eating more than half of their remaining contracts). I believe the Dodgers should be pursuing longer-term deals with Ethier and Kemp, as well as James Loney and Russell Martin (and Chad Billingsley once he proves to be healthy after suffering a broken leg this winter). Buying out a year or two of free agency will give these players newfound wealth and job security while allowing the club to sign their best players at a discount to what it may cost by going to arbitration with them every year.

In addition to resolving the Ramirez situation and the contract status of these young players, the Dodgers need to acquire at least one reliable starting pitcher and another setup man, as I'm not convinced that Cory Wade will come close to duplicating his rookie season. The Dodgers should be in conversations with Derek Lowe if it turns out that the market is no better than, say, 3 x 12.

The Dodgers have lost more players than they have added, so it seems as if management has a lot to do between now and the start of spring training because I don't believe the farm system can fill the missing pieces of the puzzle. Bringing back Rafael Furcal was a good move. Bringing back Casey Blake? Not so good. The Mark Loretta acquisition was smart in terms of the cost and what it is he can bring to the club. It's time to step up: Make Manny a 1 x 25 "take it or leave it" offer that can turn into a 2 x 25 deal if he plays 150 games and/or gets 650 plate appearances. If that doesn't work, turn your attention to Dunn and offer him half of what the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira for (both in terms of years and average annual salary). A 4 x 11.25 seems like a fair contract for both sides and one which I would favor.

Tom Meagher, Fifth Outfielder:

My assessment is that the Dodgers should spend the remainder of the offseason trying to wisely use their payroll on free agents. I can't think of any trades they should be pursuing, given the relative immobility of any veterans they should trade and given that they likely won't get a decent return for any youngsters. Ramirez is the obvious target because, though he does not represent good bang for the buck, he's the only available free agent who would constitute a 2+ win upgrade at his position, given that nearly all the LF on the market have fielding prowesses that barely surpass Manny's.

I wouldn't mind an Orlando Hudson signing, though I'm completely unclear as to what the market for him is. If he's going to be cheap, then he might end up representing better value than Ramirez. Hudson could free up Casey Blake to be more of a super-sub type or simply a strict LF. I also haven't read up on the O-Dog's medical condition, so all I can say is that I suggest the Dodgers consider it and give it due diligence, what with Hudson being arguably a more valuable all around player than Manny. However, Hudson is a type A free agent, and I think that will prevent L.A. from even considering making a play for him, what with having pick No. 17 and all.

One of the best players on the market is one of my favorite players, but I hold out no hope for the Dodgers to pursue Milton Bradley.

The pitching market is thoroughly unexciting, and the Dodgers don't figure to get any starter that is well above average. The Dodgers are not in dire straits on the pitching front by any means, and Billingsley, Kershaw, Kuroda, McDonald, Stults and Troncoso could certainly be enough to get this team to the playoffs. The dilemma they face is that anyone they bring in in free agency will likely be an insubstantial upgrade from the latter half of those six, and anyone they bring in in trade would very likely require a misguided overpayment in prospects. Given their depth, as well as their ability to take on payroll (if not willingness), I would like to see the Dodgers pursue Ben Sheets: if they get 140 innings a year from him I'm guessing he'd still end up looking like a bargain (to me), but I don't have much knowledge of what it will take to sign him.

I'm not against rolling the dice on Takashi Saito, just as long as rolling the dice means a few million and not, like, Eric Gagne money.

I don't think the franchise can at all plausibly deny that they can afford to sign Ramirez, Sheets and Saito, and that would seem a pretty reasonable course of action. The knock on signing Sheets would be the lost pick, but if the Dodgers get a first-rounder for Lowe they shouldn't let that get in the way. The key here is that the Dodgers are good enough; they need to focus on adding very good or great players so that they can improve. Bringing back Furcal and Blake only brought back players who don't figure to contribute much more than league average overall value. The Dodgers have sufficient depth, between prospects and the veterans in the outfield, to forget about finding solid contributors and focus on finding great players, even if they are injury-prone.

In other words, the Dodgers already have a heightened replacement level on their roster, and it'll be a shame if they suck up the remainder of their payroll acquiring players who aren't much better than average when they take the field. And if they do have to resort to acquiring merely average players, it is obvious that stockpiling pitchers rather than position players is the way to go.

Comments (58)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2009-01-01 07:17:36
1.   Gen3Blue
Wow, several rather different takes on which way to go. I'm partial to trying to get the young players signed, and also to the idea that they don't need any more mediocre players right now.
2009-01-01 07:29:28
2.   D4P
The link to "Fifth Outfielder" points to Dodger Thoughts...
2009-01-01 07:34:43
3.   Jon Weisman
Fixed, thanks.
2009-01-01 07:40:45
4.   Sam DC
In other news, I have Bob and Stephanie on the Travel Channel!
2009-01-01 07:57:23
5.   timm
Jason Schmidt and Ben Sheets. Is there a difference???
2009-01-01 07:58:13
6.   madmac
I trust everyone had a nice New Years evening
2009-01-01 08:47:16
7.   Bluebleeder87
Hope everyone had a pleasant New Years eve...

I don't know (great read by the way Jon thanks) but Ben Sheets screams out red flag to me & from the pitchers the Dodgers do have (Billingsley, Kershaw, Kuroda, McDonald, Stults and Troncoso) to me Troncoso can be a dark horse (is that what you call it?) I really like 'em but maybe McDonald can surprise (honestly guys, who really knows) in '09. Veremos...

2009-01-01 08:49:43
8.   Bluebleeder87
another thing I had forgotten about is the MLB Network, I'm pretty stoked about that... the only thing is that I might have to go back to Time Warner (I have Dish at the present moment) hope Dish Network accommodates...
2009-01-01 08:50:17
9.   immouch
some interesting ideas. but i've gotta wonder what rock hit the fifth outfielder in the head? orlando hudson? egads.
rather than ponder players, i'd be thrilled if the dodgers focused on needs: homers, obp, etc. and the longer manny dithers, the better dunn (homers/obp) looks to me... i really don't understand our reluctance. a great piece at baseball analysts compares dunn to texiera. conclusion? they're not nearly as far apart on the field as they will be at the bank.
2009-01-01 09:02:26
10.   Bluebleeder87
I think our bullpen is gonna give us some headaches unless Brox or somebody else steps up to the plate. It's gonna be interesting man.
2009-01-01 09:04:45
11.   Bluebleeder87
my new years resolution for '09.

Stay as is...

2009-01-01 09:08:55
12.   preacherroe
Manny brings fan excitement more than anybody else acquirable . The Dodgers haven't had a larger than life offensive player like him since.....He is worth pursuing aggressively. Dunn or Abreu is an all right fallback position.
2009-01-01 09:17:01
13.   Bluebleeder87
Takashi Saito's career #'s as a Dodger:

W's 12
L's 7
Innings pitched 189.7
Strike Outs 245
era 1.95
era+ 229

_____

as I tip my hat, this Dodger fan will miss your services Mr. Saito.

2009-01-01 09:19:48
14.   Harold M Johnson
I was thinking the Dodgers probably end up re-signing Saito, but maybe not? Are there really teams he'd want to go to that would offer more?
2009-01-01 09:26:19
15.   Goiter
thinking about Manny, when was the last time the crowd got that excited over one player during a game? Eric Gagne? i really do see Manny accepting a shorter term contract.

if they can't sign Manny, i'd love to see Dunn added (as immouch mentioned) and then trade away Pierre and Jones and take the sunk cost.

adding to the bullpen and rotation would be nice, but nothing seems to stand out to me. after taking care of the acquisition of Manny or Dunn, i think the Dodgers should stop. see what happens on the field for the first half of 2009 and go from there. as mentioned previously, maybe spend additional resources on signing younger players to long term contracts. what happened to signing Martin long term? there was talk he didn't want to do it, and then I remember reading somewhere later that he would keep an open mind.

2009-01-01 09:32:02
16.   madmac
I'm starting to favor the "sign Sheets" camp..if the price is right. I mean the odds have to be in our favor that one of these risk guys will finally work out. Right?

My first choice is still Manny and then Dunn if we can't get Manny done. I would feel better if we picked up one pitcher and I think the only pitcher worth spending money on is Sheets. Fill out the pen from within and/or a couple camp invitees. Outside of this I say save the money.

2009-01-01 09:35:40
17.   bhsportsguy
81
124
126
96
106
128
113
92
2009-01-01 09:38:49
18.   immouch
13: well put. this may be heresy, but i actually like watching saito close more than i liked watching gagne... as a dodgers fan, i'd love to have saito back. but as a baseball fan, i hope he's healthy and pitching somewhere. he's a great combo of control, smarts and sneaky power.
2009-01-01 09:43:29
19.   bhsportsguy
103
65
81
85
46/97
96
101
64
2009-01-01 09:45:05
20.   D4P
The Giants, the NL West's most active team this winter, are quietly making an aggressive play for free agent Manny Ramirez, according to a major-league source

If there's one thing I trust, it's a Major League Source™.

2009-01-01 09:50:28
21.   immouch
a few things that might happen if we sign manny instead of dunn:
a: no saito gamble.
b: no sheets gamble.
c: randy wolf? again?
d: no flexibility for big-name acquisition...
i'm not against manny. great bat, cool hair, unpredictable OF events... etc. but, c'mon, what's our fixation about?
2009-01-01 09:51:05
22.   immouch
is bhsports a writer for LOST?
2009-01-01 09:55:05
23.   Big Game
20 So Boras found a willing writer to help start his manufactured market for Manny?
2009-01-01 10:00:11
24.   AKblue
20 If that is true, is doesn't really surprise me. The Giants seem to be one of the few remaining potential suitors for Manny now that the Nationals and the O's appear uninterested. Plus, Giants ownership needs to maintain peak attendance to pay for that beautiful ballpark of theirs. Wow, adding Man-Ram's bat to that potent pitching staff....yikes.
2009-01-01 10:03:25
25.   bhsportsguy
22 OPS+ for the 3B and SS for the World Series winning teams from 2001-2008, starting with the 2008 Phillies to the 2001 D-Backs.
2009-01-01 10:24:08
26.   immouch
25... cool, in a hung over, not quite drunk anymore kinda way.
2009-01-01 10:28:49
27.   immouch
a few things that might happen if we sign dunn instead of manny:
a: we get two extra years of power in LF, or...
b: a replacement part for loney, in case '08 was reality
c: roster flexibility
d: possible pitching gambles (saito, sheets, etc.)
2009-01-01 10:36:42
28.   68elcamino427
Happy New year to all!
2009-01-01 11:07:06
29.   Megaballs
The fact that Ned hasn't signed ONE SINGLE YOUNG GUY to a deal that buys out a couple of years of FA despite all the signings from Bill Mueller to Furcal II is a huge mistake IMO.

These kids risk injury every year and will surely look for the highest bidder if they're lucky enough to be healthy and successful during arb and free agency.

Its disgusting how we've thrown huge money at older, wealthier guys from elsewhere and done the opposite for our farm-grown kids.

2009-01-01 11:13:34
30.   Megaballs
The New York Daily News reports that Derek Lowe "recently told a friend that the Red Sox ... have never showed serious interest in him."

According to the newspaper, Lowe told the friend that he expects to sign with the Mets, who have reportedly offered him a three-year, $36 million deal." rotoworld

Lowe's friends have loose lips with media connections I guess.

2009-01-01 11:21:36
31.   underdog
What could be a better way to celebrate my bday and New Year's Day (and not being interested in the morning bowl games) than watching the Cartoon Network's Looney Tunes marathon? Yipee!

--

Btw, I've been an advocate of Braden Looper as a major bargain, and would be pleased if the Dodgers followed suit as suggested above. Haven't heard they have interest though.
--

Happy 09 everyone!

2009-01-01 11:23:58
32.   underdog
Btw, think there's any merit to this? Makes me nervous.

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/01/giants-aggressi.html

I think the Giants being more serious players would force the Dodgers to up their ante with Manny, which may be the Giants only intention there.

2009-01-01 11:31:12
33.   D4P
Lowe's friends have loose lips with media connections I guess

There's probably an inappropriate Carolyn Hughes joke in there somewhere...

2009-01-01 11:47:00
34.   regfairfield
Pay Manny Ramirez way less than he's worth doesn't seem like something he'd agree to.
2009-01-01 11:50:28
35.   herchyzer
32 . Bastiids!

I had always hoped (this offseason) that the Dodgers would try to overcome their misunderstanding/communication failure with Lowe to make him an offer somewhere around what the Mets appear to have made, and then, if they couldn't afford Manny, to go after Dunn. It seemed to me that would be achieving maximum value in terms of off-season aquisitions that would likely help the team.

I know Dunn gets a lot of grief due to certain limitations but he bangs out 35-40 bombs per season, for cryin' out loud! That seems like a lot to my baseball uneducated pea brain.

We'd have added a dangerous bat and a very dependable arm.

2009-01-01 11:57:35
36.   Harold M Johnson
I really can't see the Giants spend the kind of yearly money that the Dodgers have already offered, and I can't see them committing 3 years to Manny either. Now that the Mets, Nationals, and Angels have publicly themselves out of the running, and the Yankees have signed Teixiera, the Giants are one of the last scare-tactics Boras has to work with.

Although I could see the Mets jumping back in at the last minute, and you can never count out the Yankees.

The upside is that if Manny goes elsewhere, there are decent, lower-priced alternatives.

2009-01-01 11:57:52
37.   Disabled List
The Manny-to-SF rumor sure seems like an obvious response from Boras to the Dodgers-interested-in-Dunn rumor that was floated a couple of days ago. Except, the Giants signing Manny is a lot more plausible than Ned Colletti signing Adam Dunn.

Manny in SF is bad news for the NL West.

2009-01-01 11:59:32
38.   Sac Town Dodger Fan
Kids, just say NO to DUNN!

Sign Manny, 3 year $75 mil, eat up Jones contract (no pun intended), ditto with Pierre, and invest in arms.

31 Happy B-day!

Happy NEW YEAR everyone!

2009-01-01 12:37:47
39.   Sam DC
eat up Jones contract (no pun intended)

Maybe it's just the New Years in me, but that really made me laugh.

Happy birthday Underdog. May you have no fear.

2009-01-01 12:49:11
40.   fordprefect
31
thanks for the tip u-dog, & belated bday.
"you yellow dog of a cowardly cat"!
2009-01-01 13:06:13
41.   Physics DR
A question for Bob

What are the the largest book collections in private hands? (an individual or a family)

2009-01-01 14:08:36
42.   Gen3Blue
It is time for --Happy Birthday to Underdog!

I think 40 is the most anxiety provoking B-day for most people; it gets a bit better after that. I have had many people tell me that their 40's and 50's were there most satisfying years in the balance of increasing experience w/ declining physical abilities

2009-01-01 14:11:26
43.   Bumsrap
Sometimes addition by subtraction greatly improves the team. I think the Dodgers will be better just by Lowe and Kent leaving. Penney falls into that category as well.

If I were a pitcher of Wolf's capability or similar I would hesitate to sign with the Dodgers because they already have better talent. I don't think the Dodgers need more talent, they need innings. They have too many good young pitchers that might not succeed after they pitch 180 innings.

I hope the Dodgers play the best players and not automatically pencil in Blake and Furcal and Jones, and Pierre.

2009-01-01 14:13:37
44.   Bumsrap
I was talking with a guy who said he didn't feel anything different as he hit the 50, 60, 70, or 80th birthdays. What got to him was when his son turned 60.
2009-01-01 14:48:51
45.   Indiana Jon
Not a single mention here of the Rose Bowl? I'm shocked. So far it's a good game too.
2009-01-01 14:55:59
46.   JoeyP
True or False:

If Manny signs with the Giants, the Giants would be the best team in the NL West.

2009-01-01 15:06:25
47.   Indiana Jon
46 Depending on what other teams do this off season, it could be true. If the Dodgers picked up Dunn and a pitcher (a good one like Sheets, Lowe or maybe even Pettite), then I think they would be slightly favored again.
2009-01-01 15:21:28
48.   Alex41592
The only thing that can take away the feeling last season gave us would be if Manny signed with the Giants.

With that said it's not going to happen.

2009-01-01 15:23:09
49.   tjdub
The analysts at MLBTV are disagreeing with each other. I like this so far.
2009-01-01 15:25:09
50.   Alex41592
That field is very nice in HD.

Jimmy Rollins is not a big man.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2009-01-01 15:34:22
51.   das411
...these announcers are openly rooting for USC, aren't they? Tell me thats not just me that hears it?
2009-01-01 15:41:00
52.   Kevin Lewis
I think they are impressed by USC and the kind of Football team they are, but I wouldn't say they are rooting for them.

By the way, I am very pleased with this score...7 more points to cover the over.

2009-01-01 15:42:09
53.   Marty
Musberger is usually a Big Ten homer, so SC must have impressed him.
2009-01-01 15:43:25
54.   LAbits
45 Must mean USC is losing!

51 This is why they have a journalism school.

Just got back from the Parade & lunch. Penn State band more entertaining and better at going around the corner. Most fun float was the giant Bull Dog on Skateboard which had real skating bulldogs (not Hersheiser) on a oval track on it.

2009-01-01 15:47:43
55.   Indiana Jon
54 Not even close, but it was a good game for one quarter.
2009-01-01 15:49:14
56.   ToyCannon
47
No longer a good game. Pac-10 5-0 is impressive.
2009-01-01 15:50:53
57.   Jon Weisman
NPUT
2009-01-01 19:06:58
58.   capdodger
Could anybody figure out why there was a spare Side Judge standing behind the Line Judge on the sideline nearest to the TV?

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