Many Dodger fans and some writers have expressed displeasure with the fact the Dodgers sat on their hands during the recently concluded Winter Meetings. Getting past the angst of the unfathomable decision to not offer arbitration to Wolf and Hudson I'm having a hard time being outraged at the lack of movement.
In fact I'm even feeling kind of optimistic about the Dodgers keeping their hands away from the cookie jar where they have been burned time and time again during Ned's reign. Not much good has come when the Dodgers have gone to the winter meetings in the past. Pop over to MLBTR and check out all the moves that happened during these meeting and then add in the fact the Lowell to Ranger deal and I'm not looking at very much I think the Dodgers missed out on.
The big names want big deals and I haven't seen a big name in the 2009 FA class that I'd be interested in even if the Dodgers had money. Holliday or Bay? No thanks. Lackey would be great but not for his years and his price. It would have been nice to been in on the Granderson deal but we don't need an outfielder. E Jackson ended up being quite expensive so no thanks there.
I've stressed in the past that I wish we were able to dip our feet into the plethora of injured but substantial skill set of Harden/Sheets/Bedard but given the price and the health risk, maybe next year at this time we'll be glad we didn't have the money to spend on the fragility of the best pitchers available.
Once Brad Penny got 7.5 I was saying no thank you and maybe Ned was doing the same. At the end of the winter meetings he expressed that he would be okay with giving the group of Elbert/McDonald/Lindblom/Stults/Haeger a chance to battle it out in spring training for the fifth spot. For anyone who follows this blog, I think all of us who write for TBLA would be pleased if that really happened. Elbert was the minor league pitcher of the year in 2009 and McDonald in 2008. At least one of those pitchers should be able to capably handle the back end of a rotation spot. I'm much more worried about Billingsley and Kuroda rebounding and taking on the pressure of being the backbones of the rotation then I am of one of the Isotopes group not being able to handle their end of the rotation.
We are trying to fill the fourth spot by moving Juan Pierre. Given that Coco Crisp and Mike Cameron are still available for less by millions it still appears to be a long shot for the Dodgers to move Juan. My gut says that if they are unable to move Juan then they will try their best to trade Sherrill instead. Given that Sherrill might be on the move management did spend $100,000 on two Rule Five pitchers. Both have some upside as the Dodgers try the Venezuelan pipeline once again.
Even though the team ownership appears bleak I don't think the team itself should be lumped into the same problem sack. We have to replace Wolf but we don't really have to replace the Wolf of 2009 who was better then anyone imagined. The Dodgers will acquire a fourth starter, let us address the capabilities of that person when he's actually acquired. We need a 2nd baseman, which could come internally from DeWitt or a combo of DeWitt/Free Agent(Belliard) or maybe a Felipe Lopez will become available as Ned waits out this years free agent class.
Given the lack of financial flexibility the current Dodger management has to work with they kind of have to utilize the wait and see approach. Luckily for them it might simply be the best approach. The core of the team for 2010 is set.
1st - Loney 2nd - Unknown, SS - Furcal, 3rd - Blake, C - Martin
LF - Manny , CF - Kemp, RF - Andre
SP - Billingsley, Kershaw, Kuroda, (Elbert, Lindblom, Haeger, Stults, McDonald, Troncoso), Unknown
This team should improve at 1st, SS, LF, and catcher. I'd expect Blake to regress a bit. The bench needs to be built again. Right now it looks like Hu is the utility infielder with Pierre/Repko manning two outfield spots. One backup catcher is needed and then one left handed pinch hitter if Repko makes the team or a right handed pinch hitter if he doesn't.
A quiet winter is not the worse thing that could happen to this team given the turmoil going on as the battle for who will own the team continues behind the scenes. The demise of the Dodgers has been overly exaggerated. The team is who plays the games and we still have one hell of a team and given the possible improvements from Loney, Kershaw, rebounds from Martin/Billingsly, or exciting rotational debuts from Elbert, the combination of all these factors could keep them on the same path they have been on the past two years.
Ownership is a mess, the team isn't, lets not confuse the two. WIthout a doubt this team would be better suited to do battle with the Phillies/Cardinals/Braves with a payroll around the level of 2008 but it is not going to happen, so we just need to focus on what we can do with what we have to work with. This optimism may be short lived but I'll work with it as long as I'm feeling it.