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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Outfield Gaps
2006-02-15 09:16
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

True or false: The Dodger outfield of J.D. Drew, Kenny Lofton, Jose Cruz, Jr., Ricky Ledee, Jason Repko, Jayson Werth, Andre Ethier, Cody Ross and maybe Delwyn Young or Joel Guzman is something of a shambles.

In a couple of years, the Dodgers might boast about an outfield of, say, Drew, Guzman, Matt Kemp and Justin Ruggiano. But for now, even if Drew plays 130 games, there are gaps in the gap patrol. Lofton is adequate offensively but missed 52 games at age 38 last season, Cruz is wildly inconsistent, Werth and Ledee have health issues from minor to major, and Repko is a true backup. The bats of Ethier and Ross probably aren't ready, assuming they'll ever be, and career infielders Young and Guzman would have to learn the position. (Of course, it worked out okay for Florida's Miguel Cabrera.)

Despite trading Antonio Perez, Dodger general manager Ned Colletti has deepened the infield. When your backups are Hee Seop Choi, Willy Aybar, Oscar Robles and Olmedo Saenz and you have James Loney, Young, Guzman and Andy LaRoche on standby, both the present and the future look good.

But there's an imbalance here, one that almost certainly will have to be dealt with through position switches, trades or riding out some rough waters. Not to reignite the exhaustive Choi debate, considering that he may be the one to go by April 3, but I'm not sure everyone's going to be happy on the days that Repko is starting against a right-handed pitcher and Choi is watching from the dugout.

Comments
2006-02-15 10:05:11
1.   Andrew Shimmin
True. But Werth will save us. He'll come back 100%, and put up the numbers we expected (i.e. hoped for) last year. One Jayson to rule them all. . .

Alternately, the whole thing falls apart. Saenz sees time in LF; Colletti trades Billingsly, Elbert, and Travis Denker for Juan Encarnacion, at the break. All that has to happen is for our old guys to get too old, all at once, and for Drew to go down. Neither of those things is unlikely enough for my tastes.

2006-02-15 10:09:03
2.   Winthrop
Did someone say "Choi debate"? The Hee Seop Choi Marching and Chowder Society is ready.
2006-02-15 10:18:02
3.   Sam DC
I'm sure Nate would want you all to know that Sammy Sosa has rejected the Nationals' offer. All it will take to sign him is Frank Thomas money:

"A source familiar with the negotiations said if Sosa was offered a deal similar to Frank Thomas, who received a $500,000 guaranteed contract with incentives from the Athletics, he would have taken the deal. But the think tank in the Nationals' front office was very concerned about Sosa's eroding skills."

Of course, then you'd be betting against the "think tank" in the Nationals' front office.

article at nationals.com

2006-02-15 10:19:22
4.   DodgerJoe
Is there any chance Nomar plays left and Choi plays first? I guess not.

With all the moves Colletti is making, I am sure he'll find a free agent to play the outfield.

Just thinking, who comes off the payroll this year and who is a free agent next winter?

2006-02-15 10:28:39
5.   Sam DC
And Weaver goes to LA for $8.5 million.

Woulda done better through arbitration, no?

2006-02-15 10:32:11
6.   Sam DC
Funny, the latimes.com article has a pitcher of Weaver with the caption: "Same City, Different Team."

I guess.

2006-02-15 10:32:56
7.   regfairfield
4 We lose Kent, Gagne, Garciaparra, Baez, Cruz, Ledee, and Lofton.

The most notable outfielders are:
Luis Gonzalez
Cliff Floyd
Carlos Lee
Raul Ibanez
Milton Bradley
Randy Winn
David Delluci
Gary Sheffield
Shannon Stewart
Jose Guillen

A full list can be found here: http://www.mlb4u.com/0607FA.html

2006-02-15 10:33:32
8.   regfairfield
Missed Edmonds and Mike Cameron.
2006-02-15 10:34:06
9.   Steve
6 -- Don't question Big Brother.
2006-02-15 10:43:13
10.   DodgerJoe
7 - Thanks for the info

Some money should free up with Kent and Lofton at least.

I think that moving Guzman to the outfield will take until 2008. With Drew the only lock, I'd love to see Carlos Lee in left.

2006-02-15 11:04:35
11.   Jason LR
Lets see... a fan favorite doesn't resign with the Dodgers, goes to a rival (in a sense) and takes less money? Shouldn't Colletti expect a litany of criticism from the LAT? Maybe I'll refer to 9.
2006-02-15 11:17:02
12.   natepurcell
no colletti did the right thing.

7, 25, 31.... woohooooo!

2006-02-15 11:17:54
13.   Sam DC
Jason Stark has the Dodgers as the third most improved club in the NL and the Angels as the first most unimproved club in the AL.
2006-02-15 11:22:00
14.   mag357
Was Weaver labeled as a "A" Free Agent?
If so, don't we get the Angel's 1st round draft pick this year?
2006-02-15 11:22:08
15.   DXMachina
10 "With Drew the only lock,"

Can Drew still walk away after this season if he has a good year?

2006-02-15 11:29:17
16.   natepurcell
*Was Weaver labeled as a "A" Free Agent?
If so, don't we get the Angel's 1st round draft pick this year?*

we get picks 25 and 31 for weaver.

2006-02-15 11:29:42
17.   Winthrop
Any reason Choi can't play left field? I understand he probabaly has greater defensive value at first-base, but if Nomar is enthorned there, why not try the switch.

Konerko learned to play outfield in spring training before his first year with the big club (albeit he was younger then). Then again, all it did was get him traded.

2006-02-15 11:29:47
18.   Marty
Drew can walk away if he has a good, bad or indifferent year. It's just a matter of what works for him financially.
2006-02-15 11:29:59
19.   Colorado Blue
15 - Yes. Of course, he's welcome to walk if he has a bad year... are you listening J.D.?
2006-02-15 11:52:57
20.   blue22
Opt out or not, I just want him to have a season that even makes him consider it.

Opting out would be gravy.

2006-02-15 11:53:24
21.   Daniel Zappala
Whew, a couple inches and snow is still falling heavily. Meanwhile, spring training has started. How great is that!
2006-02-15 12:10:58
22.   Jon Weisman
11 - That's the first time I've ever heard Weaver called a fan favorite, but anyway ... a short post about the signing up top.
2006-02-15 12:24:41
23.   2atlow8
Drew's contract is such a joke. The only way Drew will opt out is if he turns into Berry Bond with a bat and stays off the DL. That out clause means the Dodgers will at best get a productive Drew for a couple of years, and he will opt out for more $$$. If he does what he has been doing his whole career then he might as well collect his pay with a ski mask. Cause the Dodgers are paying him 55mil to be productive, and there was no way to get 5 productive years from Drew with that out clause.
2006-02-15 12:30:34
24.   Jon Weisman
23 - Ah, this old debate again. If you're so down on Drew, why would you care if the Dodgers got a great year out of him and then were off the hook for the next three?

The gamble is whether Drew was worth 5/$55 or not, period. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. But the out clause is virtually meaningless.

2006-02-15 12:35:22
25.   Sam DC
I'm surprised that no one argues that the contact benefits the Dodgers becuase it builds in an extra contract year. Not that I much go in for the "contract year" theory, but most people seem to. Here, the Dodgers get that extra incentive for a mid-contract year that they would not otherwise have had in a standard $5/$55 deal.

Also, folks don't seem to argue that option helped the Dodgers by lowering the total contract price. E.g. Drew wanted $58 mill, but DePodesta convinced him to take this option thing (which DePo saw as worthless but Drew and Boras may have valued). In that scenario, if it's right that the option is neutral from the Dodgers' perspective, it may have saved them some money.

2006-02-15 12:38:21
26.   Jon Weisman
25 - I've made the second argument - that the out clause was a (harmless) tool to bridge the negotations. Your first point is a good one as well, as far as it goes.
2006-02-15 13:33:02
27.   blue22
23 - This has been discussed quite a few times before, but what kind of numbers will Drew need to put up to make him think he can top a 3/$33M contract this offseason?

And remember that Giles turned down a 3/$38M (?) offer from Toronto this offseason, for Giles' ages 35, 36, and 37 seasons.

His 2005 numbers:

.423/.483/.906 w/ 15 HR's and 83 RBI's.

He's more durable than Drew, but Drew is 5 years younger. I don't think it will take a "Berry Bond" year from Drew, but a healthy (140+ games) at his typical production levels to do it (.393/.514/.907 career averages).

2006-02-15 13:33:24
28.   underdog
I'm not sure the OF is a shambles so much as unpredictable or, if we shake up the ol' magic 8 ball, "ask again later." There are a lot of "Ifs" out there, but I'm starting to feel better about their options in the minor leagues in the OF, with Kemp and Ethier and, yes, Guzman - whether any of them would be ready to help if one of the current starters slips or gets injured is TBD. But Kenny Lofton continues to amaze me, he's an incredible athlete and while he's 38 he's more like 30 in body terms; he may surprise some of you. (Or he may surprise me and completely fall apart.) Drew, yeah, we'll just cross our fingers, or hope he wears body armor out there. I'm okay with Cruz and (a healthy) Werth, with Repko a capable reserve and Ledee to brittle to count on for much but a good hitter and also a capable reserve. In short, not awe-inspiring, but solid with some depth both on the bench and, finally in the minors. (Though not as much as the infield, as has been noted here.)

My two cents anyway. We'll see. "Ask again later."

Btw, anyone see the Sporting News baseball preview mag? I just got it. Dodgers are picked to finish 3rd. Ken Gurnick does their write-up and as expected does a pretty decent job. I don't quite understand the magazine's overall take as the Padres being quite a bit superior to LA, but I guess the latter has too many questions and "Ifs..."

2006-02-15 13:42:11
29.   2atlow8
24 - My point about the Drew contract is that you never would have gotten a productive player for 5/55 with a opt out. Since there is an opt out the gamble is not whether Drew is worth 5/55. If he out performs then he opts out and the Dodgers will need to resign him at a higher rate, but if he is injured again this year then he will collect all 55mil.

That contract can only have two outcome.

1. Drew becomes A-Rod opts out and gets more money from the dodgers or another team.

2. JD remembers he is JD and makes the money look as if it would have been better spent on Beltre.

The best outcome out of this contract is Drew opting out if he does well, and resigns at current market value at that time. All while he is guaranteed 55mill if he is a dog. This contract is not about whether he is worth 55/5. It is more of pay 55mill for a dog, or 33 for 3 years and reup for more money if he stays.

2006-02-15 13:46:01
30.   Steve
Among the several obvious criticisms of your point is that neither of your "only" two outcomes occurred.
2006-02-15 15:08:37
31.   Daniel Zappala
Would it be fair to say that it is unlikely that the Drew's contract will ever be considered a bargain for the Dodgers? If he underperforms, clearly it is not. If he outperforms, and does it early enough, he may opt out. It seems like the way for it to be a bargain is if he performs to expectation, decides to stay, and after 5 years the market has grown to the point where he is then underpaid. Or alternatively, he is bad for a few years, opts to stay, and then does really well.

It seems to me that the out clause thus reduces the probability that the contract will ever be considered a bargain. On the other hand there may be lots of ways that it may be considered fair to both parties.

2006-02-15 15:10:50
32.   Jon Weisman
It may never be a bargain, but that's a pretty high standard to live up to as far as a Type A free agent is concerned. Fair should be the goal. Bargain is gravy.
2006-02-15 15:56:39
33.   2atlow8
Jon,

If Depo was all about finding bargins, and that being the reason why he let Beltre go. How did the Dodgers get roped into the Drew deal?

Glad I found this site, and good to see so many Dodger fans.

2006-02-15 16:12:47
34.   Daniel Zappala
32 Right. To me it's a question of probabilities, and the part of the contract that gets some people upset is that the opt out decreases the probability of it being a bargain, without corresponding language that protects the Dodgers from a bust. You might argue that insurance provides this, but a mutual option does this better. I guess the market for Drew was such that DePodesta could not get a mutual option. I hope he was able to get insurance in case of injury.
2006-02-15 16:18:21
35.   Jon Weisman
33- Glad to have you, too. Clearly, you don't think Drew was worth the contract, and that's fine. I think it's very hard to get bargains with everyone on your roster - some guys are underpaid, some are overpaid. It's partially built into a system in MLB that rewards longevity.
2006-02-15 16:26:42
36.   Steve
If Depo was all about finding bargins, and that being the reason why he let Beltre go. How did the Dodgers get roped into the Drew deal?

Depo was not all about finding bargains, and that was not the reason he let Beltre go. The conditional and the conclusion it is based on are both faulty.

2006-02-15 16:54:21
37.   Brendan
Signing Type A Free Agents and the word bargain should never be in the same comment. exception to the rule is Vlad.
2006-02-15 21:49:02
38.   underdog
I thought Milton Bradley was Type A?

[duck]

2006-02-15 22:42:26
39.   Brendan
38

I wrote bargain not burden.

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