With all the woes of how the Dodgers don't have money to spend on free agents, what would the team look like if LA really just went all out and got the best players available on the market to fill all the holes on the team? Intuitively, a surefire winner. You'd see Adrian Beltre, Adam Dunn, Carl Crawford, Victor Martinez, Orlando Hudson, Cliff Lee, Hiroki Kuroda, and all would be good. Right?
What could you do with a lineup of:
And a rotation of
That would only bump payroll up to about $160m.
I'm not a simulations expert, and I'm not sure what exactly to expect with the changes in pitching and defense, but think I have a general idea. I'll examine the offense more here, mostly because it's easier.Using the Baseball Musings lineup analysis tool, I inputed the starting 8's 3 yr average, best season, and worst season (with a min. 250 PA). I used the 1959-2004 model
This is worth 5.482 runs per game, or 888 runs, easily a record for the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose best in the West was 1962, the first year in Dodger Stadium, with 842. In 1953, though, the team scored 955 runs in what was then only a 154 game season, thanks to leading the league in all 3 triple slash offense categories with a team line of .285/.366/.474. That, combined with replacing the Dodgers' 5th starter from last season with Cliff Lee will lead to at least 100 wins, a feat last achieved by the 1974 Dodgers. But why hope for something that won't happen when you would rather be missing sour grapes? Let's say the whole team just plays terribly, equaling the worst they've done in the last three years. What would that look like?
Like a team that could score 685 runs. That's an 18 run improvement over the 2010 Dodgers, but exactly as many as the 2005 Dodgers and hardly justifies the expense. It says quite a bit for Adam Dunn and Andre Ethier, though, that in the last three years they didn't really have a season where they sucked (unless you want to talk outfield defense). But V-Mart succumbed to injury in 2008 when Crawford had a down year, Beltre's contract year and family jewels were shattered in 2009 while Furcal had a typical odd year performance, and Kemp and Hudson didn't have great years this year. But, hey, what are the odds that an entire team would not hit for an extended period of time? Let's go with average performance.
An 806 run team, which is still more than 100 runs better than this year's team, and easily a playoff contender. But what about injury risk? Who missed time over the last 3 seasons?
Lowest PA in a season since 2008:
While Jamey Carroll makes a decent backup for Furcal, there are considerable injury risks for just about everyone except for Kemp and Dunn (though Ethier had more of a freak accident than anything). While not certain, there is plenty of room for disappointment, especially if LA is left playing DeJesus, Hu and Carroll when a screamer nails a still cupless Adrian Beltre, Furcal runs for it and pulls a hamstring, and throws the ball off track so that Hudson moves for it and is run in to by a charging Pablo Sandoval (who of course was the runner on first at the start of the play).
The biggest impact would be to have a good rotation 1-5, which is really unheard of for even the best teams; that is what kept the Dodger winning some games in the second half. But even then, Kuroda and Lilly had injury issues in 2009, and there's only so much depth you can get for the 6th or 7th starter, though only 16 starts might not be too bad.
I'm sure that the Dodgers could make a couple smart signings, while recognizing there's no way they sign all these guys and a good chance they don't sign any. If anything, though, the consistent performance and lack of injury risk (along with not costing $20m/yr) makes Adam Dunn a great choice.