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Why Bother?

A few days ago, I was putting the finishing touches on my "offseason plan" post. If the Dodgers enacted this plan, they'd head into the 2007 with the following lineup:

SS Rafael Furcal
C  Russel Martin
CF J.D. Drew
LF Pat Burrell
2B Jeff Kent
RF Aubrey Huff
1B James Loney
3B Wilson Betemit

Along with this rotation

Brad Penny
Derek Lowe
Chad Billingsley
Aaron Heilman
Hong-Chih Kuo

Combine this with some efforts to shore up the bench and the bullpen, and you had yourself a mighty fine team*. I was about to do my write up on why picking up Aaron Boone was a good idea, but I decided to take a nap instead. A few hours later would make no real difference. Couple hours roll by, I wake up, and suddenly J.D. Drew is gone. That'll put a damper in the old plans. No problem, I just need to find a solution to centerfield, and we're back in business.

A week later, I'm still trying to find that solution.

The sudden lack of a centerfielder opened up a lot of holes in the Dodger organization. While previously the Dodgers had just enough resources to cover the weaknesses of the 2006 team, losing the best hitter on the team blows it wide open. There's a few reasons for this.

The first is the lack of centerfielders on the open market. They all fall into one of two categories, they will either be grossly overpaid (Gary Matthews Jr.), stink (Darin Erstad), or both (Juan Pierre). When Kenny Lofton is by far the most palatable option out there, something is terribly wrong. This makes the Dodgers hole in centerfield impossible near impossible fill on the open market. My vote is sign Jay Payton for strictly defensive purposes, but in a vacuum it?s a terrible signing thanks to Payton?s extreme lack of patience.

The second problem comes from the lack of trade chips the Dodgers have. With few exceptions, the Dodgers farm system consists of guys who are untouchable, and players with zero value. Sure, there's some interesting yet expendable players like Mark Alexander, but those are few and far between. It's another downside to Ned's moving almost all of the mid-tier prospects for what has effectively become Wilson Betemit. Maybe he can pull off an amazing deal and turn the rest of the cruft into useful players, but hoping Wayne Krivski or Dave Littlefield do something dumb that helps the Dodgers isn't the best plan.

Finally, there's the general problem of there being very little worthwhile free agents anywhere. I was high on Carlos Lee at the beginning of the season, but the 37 home runs he hit shot his value through the roof. Suddenly the guy I thought might sneak through this off season is going to get paid far more than he's worth. I like Carlos Lee, but I would never sign a guy who has never had a .900 OPS to the contract he's about to get. The less said about the other big name hitter, Alfonso Soriano, the better. That leaves J.D. Drew as the last big ticket hitter available, and I don?t think he?s coming back any time soon

Ultimately, every permutation of a 2007 team I can think of that doesn't ruin the future is just a worse version of the 2006 Dodgers. Sure, the rookies get older, and hopefully more productive, but when the heart of my suggested order consists of Pat Burrell, Jeff Kent, and Craig Wilson, it doesn't exactly solve the Dodger's power problem.

Of course, the last time I saw an off season as completely hopeless was 2005, and I felt Paul DePodesta did a pretty good job then. Maybe Colletti can pull together a miracle off season. It would certainly improve my opinion of him. At this point, however, I'll settle for not signing Alfonso Soriano. At this point, it?s looks like the best plan of action is to sign a few stop gaps, hope for a lucky playoff spot, and wait until 2008. It?s a depressing feeling.

*Claims about the mightiness of said team are not necessarily true.